Set Some Rules to Set the Rhythm
As the ‘conductor of your orchestra’, the business leader sets the rules, ensuring all areas of the business are in time with each other, and each knows when to play their part in the overall symphony.
So what does that mean for you?
As the business owner and leader it is up to you to explain what you need and when you need it.
Timely information and actions will support smooth operation and an efficient use of your time and knowledge.
To discover where to start, simply ask yourself; ‘what tasks are repetitive and time sensitive?’
These will likely be:
- Marketing – Social media cycles of releases
- Customer/Sales enquiry follow-up
- Sales tracking – alerts to new sales and leads that have extended past the normal decision cycle
- Material ordering – stock maintenance and levelling for maximum cash return
- Operations planning – maximising production runs and product mix
- Invoicing – timely control and accuracy
- Debtor control – routine contact to ensure clients are aware
- Paying creditors – routine payment runs to build supplier confidence
- Cash management – daily, weekly understanding of the cash position
- Profit and Loss review – monthly accountability for reaching budget
Some of these will be relevant to your business and some will not. There may also be other tasks you need to consider because of the marketplace you operate within.
Once we have the list, we prioritise it according to the risk of it not being done. Then we can focus on the ‘who and when’ these things need to be done and ‘how’ you can find out whether they are being done on time and in the way required.
Some businesses use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Dashboards as tools to manage their business rhythm. While this may work, it does not necessarily mean that they have a ‘rhythm’ to their business – things might still be erratic and need constant managing. These tools are, however, useful when applied correctly. They may help you understand your requirements for the rhythm you want to have. We talk more about KPI’s and their uses in other releases.
Setting the rules:
When implementing any change in business, explanation, discussion and agreement is the only way to achieve a sustainable outcome.
The rules can be as simple as the following examples.
- Marketing releases:
- Required rhythm: We will release one piece of marketing material per month for the next twelve months
- The person (and you will need a name of the responsible person here) will release the agreed material on the 1st working day of the month.
- A confirmation of this being done will be sent to you every time it is done.
- You will acknowledge receipt of the confirmation.
After only a few months the habit will be formed and action will be taken without prompting. This may be established simply by adopting a diary reminder for the person responsible for the action. If a task is not done, it becomes an exception, then the rhythm is broken and needs to be reset.
- Material Ordering:
- Required rhythm: Maintain each stock item to within one week of the material lead time from the supplier
- If using an inventory management tool, which could be a simple Excel sheet, a minimum stock level is set to flag when reached.
- A routine check of the inventory system (hourly, daily or weekly depending on the usage cycles and sales demand), will identify the materials in flagged status.
- Determine the lead time to deliver and volume required, then place the stock order with the supplier.
- Only if a material is in a critical supply state will the person responsible flag the exception to you, then you can assist in any corrective action if needed.
The process of establishing the rules and the operating rhythm you want will take a little time. It ultimately depends on the people you have working with you and their ability to routinely do what is required of them without you prompting them every time.
By establishing a ‘check in’ time and day with each of the responsible people, they and you will quickly build the knowledge and trust needed, so that you can extend the regularity of check-ins. You will be notified if, in the interim, something is not right.
The signs of a good, effective and established operating rhythm are when your people know what’s coming next and know what to do if it doesn’t happen. People will generally be more relaxed, in tune with their co-workers and only have good things to say about how one section of the business is supporting another.
This becomes a part of the business culture and when new tasks or operational changes come along, the teams work cohesively to adopt the new process or task, each understanding the impact on the others.
It is satisfying to know when things are under control and that the business is operating in a ‘competently conscious’ state while you are checking the pulse when needed.
It could be said that an operating rhythm is just a set of routines based on critical tasks and this may be true for some. A true operating rhythm is when you know something is wrong when you walk through the door or the voice on the end of the phone sounds different, simply because it doesn’t feel right!
We can help you establish the rules around the operating rhythm your business needs.
Sign in for our FREE Guest Membership.