One of my favorite things about working in a Business and Accounting Advisory role is walking alongside businesses to help identify areas for improvement.
I recall a conversation with a company during which it became clear that while they had developed a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) and spreadsheets to measure productivity throughout the company, the recording and tracking of this data had become the primary focus. Almost every conversation revolved around this spreadsheet or that one, and how the sales were continuing to decline.
The data almost became irrelevant because the focus on what the company actually produced and sold was lost. While they were struggling to make sales, manage quality control issues, and maintain cash flow, the entire organization was focused not on how to improve sales, but on how to track data and what specific spreadsheets showed. Rarely did the conversation involve what the numbers actually meant, or the “why” behind them.
I love data and Excel spreadsheets but when the operations team is focused on a spreadsheet rather than the product itself, it is difficult to turn the ship around.
What you focus on, determines what you miss.
This phrase came to life when observing the operations team. In realizing the focus was misdirected, they were able to start reassessing the roles and responsibilities of key players, letting the operations team focus on operations while the finance team focused on tracking the data and keeping all informed. One might think it obvious that the operations team should focus on operations and product improvement, but as with many things in life, if you are too close to the situation it can be difficult to identify all the issues.
Determining the appropriate focus is key to having a road map to success. In stepping back and looking at what the team was doing on a daily basis, it became clearer.
About the Author
+Amanda Bullock is a consultant with Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim controller services, recruitment, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Amanda directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 212.