Becoming and Award Winning Business – Part 6

Creating Your Company’s DNA – No Silver Bullet

Recap of previous blog

In my last blog I listed the steps I took on how I came up with a set of Values for EDIStech. These values had to serve two purposes. Firstly they had to create for EDIStech, clear differentiators from our competitors and also, they must be able to stand the test of time. Not coming from the IT industry, I listed what I hated about IT companies and then set about creating a set of Values that would rid EDIStech of our shortcomings that appeared on my HATE list.

 


 

No Silver Bullet

Unfortunately, the process of inculcating a set of Values into a company has no Silver Bullet. It takes a huge amount of repetition, patience and rewarding behaviour that is in line with the Values we subscribe to.

After I had introduced the set of Values to the management team that I was certain would create an IT company far superior to our competitors, I introduced these to our employees at our staff meetings in a way that I felt would get “Buy In” from them.

I started by listing up on the white board, all the things that I hated about IT companies (see last week’s blog). I asked the staff to add any of their ideas to the list. I gave them the opportunity to disagree with the list. We then had a discussion on why these items were in the list and the effect on our clients if EDIStech were to behave in this way.  We then had a discussion on what practices, if implemented, would eradicate this list from our behaviour.

The result was that the staff came up with the same set of Values as I had.

Training, Training and More Training!

For the next eighteen months at every staff meeting I discussed these Values. I looked for examples whereby our staff upheld these values during the week and praised them at our meetings. I also looked at examples of where we did not uphold the values (I started with my own short comings) and discussed the impact on the client and how we could improve.

Story Telling to Hit Home the Point

I also focussed our discussion on how our values translated to our clients. I taught our staff to look at our offering through our Clients’ eyes. I told lots and lots of stories about my own personal experiences in regards to how these values had affected me as a client. Story telling for a leader, I believe, is so important. People remember stories and the learnings are better remembered.

By George We Got It!!!

I will never forget the day that we completed a very large implementation for a new client (July 2017). They had engaged another EDI company who had let them down. EDIStech was given the job with only an 8 week window to complete the project. (Normal integrations of this size take 12 weeks+).

At the end of the project (completed in the 8 weeks) we asked the client for a testimonial. When I received it, I thought that my BDM had told the CFO what our values were, as the testimonial hit on every one of the 4 Values we had implemented. I rang the CFO and asked who assisted her with the testimonial. She stated that the testimonial was a culmination of the 8 people within her implementation team and no outside influences.

WOW!!! From that day on I knew we had finally GOT IT!!!!

This was the culmination of 18 months of repetition, training and story telling – No Silver Bullet

NB1: With new staff you have to start all over again with inculcating the values into them. It is also a good reminder for the rest of the team.

NB2: Our Values form part of our performance appraisals and also form part of our hiring process for new staff. The weighting of our hiring decisions are equal between technical and cultural fit to our values. This is really important to retain staff and reduce staff turnover.

NB3: After two years of me starting with EDIStech, our staff turnover went from 100% to 7%.

NB4: The list of our Values in Poster size is in our office and a smaller version is in our Board Room.

Join me next week as I discuss how we discovered our WHY

 

 


About Me:

Ray Edward-Paul has been the General Manager of EDIStech since 2015. His leadership and strategic planning know-how has grown with experience in General Management, Regional Sales & Operations and senior Finance positions. And of course the nuances and insights gained working across sectors – from retail, manufacturing & importing, to the service realms of PR and now IT.

 


Becoming and Award Winning Business – Part 5

 How to Discover Your Company’s DNA

Recap of previous blog

In order to build momentum and align the organisation so that everyone is on the same page, introducing Daily and Weekly meetings was critical. Weekly staff meetings consisted of sharing our client successes and failures, reporting on system improvements and sharing the company’s strategic plan as well as sharing the company’s financial results against plan.

As a SaaS company we introduced daily Scrum Meetings to give us transparency around every project. We had a history of exceeding our time budgets so this meeting regime helped us pull this back.


 

What Are Your Differentiators?

 

After about six to eight months into the job I started to look at the company and ask;

“What is EDIStech’s differentiators from our competitors”?  I could not come up with any compelling answers!

Momentum was just starting to happen and internal systems were starting to improve. I felt that our staff were gaining more trust and faith in me and the management team.

So I felt the time was right to now start on;

 

Who is EDIStech?       What is our Why?         What do we stand for?

 

I guess I was lucky in that, both myself and the Global Business Development Manager were not from the IT Industry. This enabled us to look at EDIStech, our competitors and other IT companies (not in our niche) and ask ; “What do we HATE about IT companies?”

We came up with the following list;

 

  • Generally speaking, IT companies are terrible at communicating with clients about issue resolution. Worse still they are terrible at communicating how projects are progressing. They are not pro-active communicators. I guess this is a symptom of the sort of people attracted to IT as a profession.
  • When they do communicate, they use “IT Speak” and some lay people within our client organisations do not understand what is being communicated.
  • Post implementation Support can be poor. The sales teams and development teams generally are good, but once the project goes live, support can be slow and the client is forever following up with the Support Desk
  • Some IT companies take short cuts to appease the client. However this just leads to problems down the track.
  • External IT consulting firms don’t understand that the reputation of the client CIO and CFO is riding on the performance of the consulting firm, as they were the ones most likely to have made the appointment.

 

Create Your Company’s Values

When I looked at this list and then at EDIStech, unfortunately I saw some of these shortcomings within our business.

So from this list, I created a set of values that if applied within EDIStech, would rid us of these shortcomings and create for us critical differentiators from our competitors.

How we did this will be covered in my next blog.

 

 


About Me:

Ray Edward-Paul has been the General Manager of EDIStech since 2015. His leadership and strategic planning know-how has grown with experience in General Management, Regional Sales & Operations and senior Finance positions. And of course the nuances and insights gained working across sectors – from retail, manufacturing & importing, to the service realms of PR and now IT.

 


Becoming an Award Winning Business – Part 4

Aligning the company through weekly and daily meetings

Recap of previous blog

In my last blog I talked about the importance of listening and observing when you are new to a leadership role. Talk with all your staff in a neutral location preferably offsite in a café or similar. Let them talk about their frustrations and what they see could be done better within the organisation. Prioritise these points and act on some easy ones quickly to build momentum and build personal credibility.


Daily and Weekly Meetings Build Consistency

This week I want to talk about setting up a regime of Daily and Weekly meetings. The purpose of these are to keep focus on the issues needing resolution and later to align all staff with a set of values that are the company’s D&A. I instigated a weekly staff meeting (all employees) and a daily scrum meeting for our software developers of 15 to 20 minutes maximum.

Weekly staff meeting (Approx 1-1.5 hours)

The thing about staff meetings is that the agenda needs to be thought out clearly so the “buy in” to the meeting is high by all staff.

I set the agenda and forwarded this to all staff so they knew in advance what was to be covered. The agenda followed the same pattern until that pattern needed to change. In general the agenda covered;

  • Weekly Wins – New clients on-boarded or additional business from existing clients.
  • Business Development Manager’s Report – Prospects in the pipeline
  • Marketing Manager’s Report – What marketing activity was coming up and a review of marketing activity just completed.
  • General Manager Report – I would summarize the Good and the Bad from that week as I saw it. The key thing was what we learned from the Bad that needed to change.

I would also train all staff on some aspect of the Business. In EDIS’s evolution these topics covered things like; effective communication, explaining our strategic planning process and the expectation on staff from this process, understanding the company’s KPIs (which I had developed) and reviewing our recent results against these indicators. I also spent a lot of time training our team on our Values – (A dedicated Blog on our Values is coming!)

  • System Improvements – As a collective, we picked a system or procedure within the company that needed improving. We discussed how we could improve the system. Then the GM would draw up an action plan to implement the improvements. At each weekly meeting

we discussed progress against the action plan and those responsible for delivery would report their progress.

NB: A key learning of mine from the start of my career was that; “You only get what you measure”

So holding staff and management to account against a set of action plans and asking them to report on progress was a great incentive for ensuring they delivered.

 

Daily Scrum Meeting (only for the Software Developers) 15-20 min max

 

EDIS had a history of going over the time budget for projects. So I instigated a Daily Scrum Meeting. This consisted of a Scrum Board in our meeting room which listed all jobs currently being worked on and the developers working on each job. In affect this meeting was a WIP meeting. But again we held staff accountable to delivery dates on key project milestones. These milestones were clearly written on the board. With this transparency around projects we improved our “On Time” project delivery.

 

Instigating a weekly and daily meeting regime I believe was vital to building momentum. I also believed that total transparency and understanding of both our strategy and our financials was important to build commitment and Buy In. EDIS had a 100% developer turnover per year, so commitment and buy in was critically important to stem this bleeding of experience.

Every quarter I would present the financials to all staff against our revenue, sales and overheads budget. Again this was to build trust, increase transparency and to build a team culture.

 

 

 

Quarterly Review Meetings:

I also conducted a quarterly Review Meetings with the management team. At this meeting we reviewed where we were against our Strategic Plan. Our plan details the actions required and the completion dates. So this meeting was to ensure we were on track to achieve these deadlines. We also identified Red Flags where delivery dates may be compromised. Therefore we had an opportunity to either revisit the delivery date or add more resource to the project.

Again, its all about keeping that momentum going.

 

 


About Me:

Ray Edward-Paul has been the General Manager of EDIStech since 2015. His leadership and strategic planning know-how has grown with experience in General Management, Regional Sales & Operations and senior Finance positions. And of course the nuances and insights gained working across sectors – from retail, manufacturing & importing, to the service realms of PR and now IT.