The IMPACT of having a solid operations foundation and management framework

Starting a business may seem simple on the surface, but there are many components that are necessary for a business to be successful and potentially scalable. For a startup or small business, the thought of that can be overwhelming. Having worked with many businesses over the past 25+ years, I know firsthand what happens to businesses that have the drive and desire to grow and scale, but their operations foundation components such as systems, documented processes, training programs and materials, organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, and performance measures are not established in a manner that will support the desired growth.

 

You can have a great product or service and a solid brand and marketing program in place, but if you don’t have solid operational foundations, support components and a strong management framework, it will be difficult to sustain growth or expand while maintaining your current level of quality/customer service and brand integrity. You may also find it difficult to identify where changes truly need to occur, and/or understand the impact of those changes. 

 

The questions below will help you evaluate your need to establish/review your operational foundation components and management framework. Ask yourself…

 

  • Do you envision your company continuing without your involvement?

 

  • Has your business grown faster than you were prepared for?

 

  • Do you need to adjust or incorporate new KPIs or Objectives and Key Results (OKR)? Is your business consistently missing your Key Performance Indicators (KPI)?

 

  • Do you know how much it really costs to run your business down to the process level?

 

  • Do you have the data needed to identify and/or support improvement opportunities such as efficiencies, cost reductions, consistency in quality, adjustment to customer demands?

 

  • Does your current training program impact your ability to provide cross-training or train a new hire without impacting your current staff’s productivity?

 

To build a business that will grow and is capable of scaling, it is critical that you ensure the operational foundational components and framework are established and maintained throughout the life of the business. If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, the components described in the IMPACT method below, will ensure the structural supports for continued growth are implemented and ready for use at the applicable time. Similar to building a sturdy house, a business is dependent upon four primary structural supports to establish the operational foundation it will be built upon; people, process, systems, and data. The management framework ensures there is a cadence of periodical performance reviews and a culture of continuous improvement established within the tactical delivery teams in addition to the leadership team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The IMPACT method guides a company through the establishment of core operational components to create a foundation for growth and communication. Similar to the scientific method, the IMPACT method is an ongoing process that includes interdependencies and should be executed in a sequential manner. As you implement new components, enhancements, or your business changes, updates to supporting components will be necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a brief overview of each of the IMPACT method components to help you get started:

 

I – Infrastructure

At minimum, establish and maintain the core operational documents including but not limited to; Brand Strategy, Business Strategic Plan, Business Plan, Vision boards, Tactical growth roadmaps, and a comprehensive operations manual that provides policies, organizational structures, roles and responsibilities, process documentation, training manuals by role or process, and an inventory including supporting details about your transactional and reporting solutions. Depending on your industry or business maturity level, continuity plans and succession plans are also recommended.

 

M – Measurements

As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, then you can’t manage it.” It is critical to understand the duration, cost, level of quality, and satisfaction for the receiving consumer for any process to deliver a service or product regardless of if it is internal or external facing. Businesses of all sizes and maturity levels must incorporate data collection, objectives and key results (OKR), key performance indicators (KPI), to definitively understand if they are moving in the desired direction. Ensuring the data collection processes and tools are dependable and support accurate and timely reporting is also critical to establish trust in the data collected. Our minds and feelings can trick us, but reliable data can provide insights that our minds may block.

 

P - Plan

Once you have a clear picture of your current state processes and performance, you can identify and establish plans for implementing new services / products, or enhancements/ improvements to existing ones. Roadmaps and Project Plans help you establish tactical designs and implementation plans detailing the steps you need to reach your objective, mitigate an identified or perceived risk, or solve an identified problem. These plans enable transparent communication between involved parties regarding expectations and status. There are many techniques to choose from. It is important to find the one that works best within your company.

 

A – Act

Now that you have your plan, it’s time to take action. Ensure the success criteria or outcome expectations are clearly defined and communicated throughout the organization. It is also important that the leadership team provide support to the execution team and remove obstacles to keep progress moving forward on schedule.

 

C – Continuous Improvement Program

Establishing a continuous improvement program within the culture of your business will train your team to consistently identify and communicate opportunities for improvement. Your continuous improvement program may or may not include incentives but must include frequent review and discussion of performance measurements.

 

T – Transparency

Establish open transparency and traceability throughout your data flow and reporting to facilitate efficient and effective analysis, communication, knowledge sharing, and data driven decision making. Schedule regular performance review meetings within the leadership and tactical delivery teams. This will foster buy in and a sense of pride and ownership from the ground up. When you achieve a performance target or objective, be sure to celebrate the achievements and then set a new goal to raise the target to an achievable new level that still will require your team to stretch out of their comfort zone to reach. This will foster growth and new ideas.

 

Make a positive impact on your business and for your customers by regularly reviewing/and updating your operational foundation components and management framework. It will help you stay focused on the “how” and “why” aspects of your business, ensure you are getting the returns on your investments, and position you for more efficient and grounded growth decisions.