Are Your Internal Teams Running the Same Play While Growing?
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
Fall is upon us here in Wisconsin, and with that means football season is in full swing. To me, football is more than just about watching the games and ingesting a beer or a brat. It is about watching a team work together to grow throughout the season and accomplish success as they define it. Each game, or even each play within each game, brings its own adversities. However, a clear vision, defined goals, success measurements, constant and clear communication, and personal execution and accountability, will result in success for the team play-by-play and throughout the season. As execution occurs, each team member needs to be working on the same play or else chaos, misalignment, and a loss of yards will occur. Just like a football team trying to grow and succeed, the same can be said of a growing business. In order to succeed, it takes a team working together in unison. For that to happen, you as the business owner or leader of the organization need to be transparent across all departments of the organization when it comes to the vision and growth goals of the business. It is essential that this transparency occurs prior to diving into the new opportunities, ensuring all departments can hit the ground running at the same time and move forward together. Once the vision and goals have been communicated, the team needs to come together to map out the duties for each department and assign these duties to specific individuals. These duties can vary based on the specific goals and departments, but some examples may be identifying new sales prospects or opportunities, documenting processes, analyzing and implementing more streamlined software solutions, or doing analysis on additional equipment or staffing needs. As Ken Blanchard said, “None of us is as smart as all of us,” therefore, doing this process as a team ensures that all duties are accounted for based on the needs of each department. This also provides clarity and understanding among and between departments. This will create accountability across departments and create efficiencies by eliminating duplicate and unnecessary work. My role at Journey Consulting has mainly been in the Interim CFO/Controller arena within growing clients. It usually starts off as being hired for management/executive level support and turns into being immersed in the day to day accounting functions within the accounting department, to clean up and develop infrastructure for growth. Typically in these engagements, the accounting and finance functions are left in the dark regarding growth opportunities and decisions, and in turn, sets the team and the organizational up to faulter, resulting in lost opportunities, inefficiencies, and negative financial performance. From current and past experiences, it is typical that the owner, operations and other revenue generating departments are already running the ‘2nd Down’ play in football, while the Finance department and other non-revenue generating departments (marketing, information technology, customer service, and human resources to name a few) are still getting to the line of scrimmage to run the ‘1st Down’ play. When you think of the accounting department and other non-revenue generating or support departments, these are internal service providers to the various departments across the organization. These departments, specifically the managers of the revenue generating departments, should be relying on these support functions to provide useful and timely data to help them make informed management decisions. However, if all departments are not running the same play at the same time, it makes it impossible for the data to be timely or accurate. For example, it is a common occurrence amongst our clients to bring on a new customer or obtain a new VERBAL agreement (rarely written contracts seem to ever be signed) from an existing customer. The accounting department tends to find out about it at the point they are told to invoice the new customer or for the new services. What happens then is that costs are not accurate, the invoice generated is not accurate, and the business incurs twice the amount of work on the back-end. While good communication would have allowed for efficient, accurate invoicing, resulting in faster collections, increased cash flow and satisfied customers. Working together as a team at the same pace, and running the same play on the same down, will only increase your chances of growing with fewer lost downs and negative yards. Therefore, prior to jumping into growth opportunities, communicate the vision and growth goals across the organization and collaborate as team to establish and assign the duties necessary. Once this is done, the organization can move forward TOGETHER with execution, and hold each other accountable. As James Cash Penney said, “The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” Brad Archambeau, CPA, is a consultant at Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay Photo: Creator: Al Bello, Credit: Getty Images, Copyright: 2016 Getty Images