Can’t see the forest for the trees.
This old cliche refers to a circumstance where an individual is so close or involved in a situation that they are incapable of maintaining their perspective or view of the big picture. This cliche applies to many owners and managers within the staffing industry.
Our rebounding economy is creating an environment in which many staffing firms are enjoying increased growth in sales and profits. However, much of that growth is due to external factors versus internal competencies. Although this may appear to be acceptable with our expanding economy, it could spell disaster when the economy slows and demand for services decreases.
Now is the time for owners and managers to look beyond the trees (external demand) and see the forest (internal competencies). In many instances the best way to accomplish this is through a comprehensive operational audit. The objective of an operational audit is to provide owners and managers with an objective evaluation of their firm’s strengths and weaknesses; then, based on the audit’s results, implement a process of start, stop, continue, and change to insure the firm’s long-term success, regardless of external factors.
Begin with the Business Plan
A complete operational audit begins with a careful review of the firm’s strategic business plan (or lack thereof), market share, client share, organizational structure, physical plant and equipment, as well as technological capability. Internal policies, systems and procedures are evaluated in order to determine if they are designed and operating in the best interest of clients, candidates, contractors, and/or temporaries. However, one of the most important components of an operational audit is the objective evaluation of management and staff competencies, including performance standards and ratios.
Remember: “Most firms do not suffer from an absence of resources, rather, they suffer from an absence of focus for those resources.”
Many staffing firms squander their available resources through the lack of a clearly defined business plan, through improper cross-referencing of their informational databases, through account and candidate ownership programs that are based on protectionism and not productivity, and through an operational structure that is based on personality and preference versus efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, the core competences of management and staff are not properly developed or utilized, resulting in a lack of confidence, inconsistent performance and compromised results.
“We’ve Always Done It This Way”
Owners and managers may not be aware of the problems because of inadequate monitoring and communication mechanisms, outdated or inappropriate performance standards, counter-productive systems, or a certain inertia that is created by an attitude of “We’ve always done it this way and besides, our results are pretty good.”
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Although it’s important to take full advantage of available business opportunities, assuming they meet your established criteria for accepting business, it is also important to insure the long-term viability of your business. A properly conducted operational audit will show you how to be more successful today. Of even more importance, the results of the audit will serve as a blueprint to maximizing your firm’s efficiency, effectiveness and results, thereby serving as the foundation for the future of your business.
Step back from the trees and take a look at the forest. Maximize your firm’s potential through a comprehensive, objective operational audit.
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