Think ahead! (Or mop up afterwards.)

The effort to mop up afterwards is considerable and makes your effort to think ahead well worth it. While mopping up a flood, how many times did you wish you had called the plumber in time?

Like many of you, I have more than one competing line of work. I am an academic and I operate across many schedules and through many different teams. This is the case for most people in largish organisations. It’s hard to find time to think ahead plan things well. It’s even harder to maintain focus once the plan is underway because of competing needs for your time.

As an academic, I realise the huge amount of effort involved in undoing mistakes. The effort falls into three main areas: cost; erosion of trust and pain. I will describe each of them and consider common factors for all.

Cost of not thinking ahead

I estimate the cost of mopping up to be around 3-5 times that of cost of the original process. This is a conservative estimate as it only considers the immediate costs of re-work. It does not consider the lost income. Neither does it include the increased workload in various parts of the organisation. A good workflow will prevent this.

The National Audit Office wrote “Investigation into government procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic”. They concluded that “everyone was trying to do their best, working hard to meet deadlines but errors happened, nonetheless”.

Erosion of Trust

Mistakes caused the subtle loss of trust with a client in one of the organisations I have worked for. In consequence, the client re-evaluated the entire relationship. They maintained the existing contracts but they did not award any further work. The organisation had allowed their inability to plan and perform to erode the client’s trust in them.

Pain

The loss of a client caused the above organisation massive duress. It experienced cashflow issues and wore out a lot of shoe-leather looking for new clients. While they succeeded in this, it caused a delay of 20 months to their strategic plan. Their brand and their reputation were also casualties of this terrible mistake. And that’s not to mention missing out on a buyout opportunity. The pain was out of all proportion with the original error. This is why I am a strong advocate of ‘right first time’!

Common features

In my own general experience these errors seem to have the following common features:

  1. lack of vision or absence of continual re-evaluation of the vision
  2. lapse of concentration
  3. lapse of judgement
  4. lack of time
  5. lack of client focus.

You must continue to check that your vision is correct. Verify that your team has the time and judgement to concentrate on it. Never forget that the client must always be in sharp focus.

These factors carry enormous cost of failure risks. If the contract is part of a B2B relationship, the consequence of failure are horrendous.

Prevention is better than cure

Design your systems to identify mistakes early.

Plan to achieve resolution in hours or days, not weeks.

Encourage a culture of trust so that staff are willing to shout out the problems. A blame culture will only propagate concealment and self-protection.

Act now as delay can often mean it is too late to install new processes in time to save the goal.

Our solution, for you…

Contract Toolkit creates a shared workspace for you and your partner. It allows you to assign contractual obligations to a named individual. These individuals can belong to your own organisation or to your partner.

The app provides a real-time status for each of the contract obligations. It is easy to see where someone or something is failing.

Dashboards provide information specific to the manager’s role and responsibility. They spotlight areas of concern so that even the most hard-pressed of managers can act in time. This will protect service levels and promote ‘right first time’.

Contract Toolkit creates a shared workspace for you and your partner. It allows you to assign contractual obligations to a named individual. These individuals can belong to your own organisation or to your partner.

The app provides a real-time status for each of the contract obligations. It is easy to see where someone or something is failing.

Dashboards provide information specific to the manager’s role and responsibility. They spotlight areas of concern so that even the most hard-pressed of managers can act in time. This will protect service levels and promote ‘right first time’.

We can develop these features and processes within your own existing software stack.

Contract Toolkit is an intuitive, easy-to-use app developed on the Claris Filemaker platform (Apple Inc.). It is capable of running in the cloud or as an on-premise solution.

Contact us today for more information about how we could help you.

Author: Monica Augustine