05/03/2013 - 23:27

Embrace the chance to review your practices

05/03/2013 - 23:27


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A BUSINESS cannot move forward without continuously reviewing the past; not to be critical of our mistakes, but to ensure the journey forward continues to improve.

Unfortunately, some opportunities to review aspects of a business end up in conflict. Rather than seeking out common ground, parties have simply bunkered down in an effort to defend their positions to the end.

The concept of a ‘review’ is simple - assess the current status quo and ascertain whether a better or different position is possible that could lead to improved outcomes. An assessment is then completed and a decision made in relation to whether a change is required or deferred.

You may think that all players in the business world would welcome the opportunity to review a relationship, a product, service or process to ascertain if a better position is available.

You would be wrong. Many people have no concept of the benefits of a review and the chance to interact with a colleague, customer or staff member. They see it as an assault on their personal or professional position and will defend the status quo (at the expense of potentially discovering something better).

Banking relationship

A client approached me with concerns their existing banking relationship may not be as good as it could be. The relationship had existed for some years but recent events had undermined their confidence that they had the most suitable and cost-effective banking package.

A confidential review was completed against other debt, transactional and internet products/services available. To ensure objectivity, all financial and security details were provided to the other banks to ensure that quotes were achievable.

The review highlighted a number of areas that could be improved. The bank was gently approached and asked if it would undertake a review to see if a better position could be achieved in relation to the existing banking.

You can understand my surprise when this opportunity to interact and help a client was re-engineered into a defence strategy by the manager. The response was one of personal disappointment, disbelief, claims that the quotes obtained could not have been based on full information, and a restating that the current products and services were the best available. Imagine my further surprise when senior management within the bank also took an adversarial approach to the review - a review requested by the customer due to the breakdown in confidence between themselves and the bank.

Commercial valuations

Having been involved in real estate since 1984, I have a reasonable grasp on what is required to produce a commercial valuation. It is an opinion of value based on experience supported by objective facts and available data. If data have been used incorrectly, if additional data not used are uncovered or if comparative data are in fact not comparative, then I believe a review is required.

In my experience, rather than accept that there may be mitigating facts or additional data, most valuers will generally batten down and defend their position. They will not consider that they could be wrong and would rather discount or discredit all other data that could possibly assist in coming up with an alternative value.

Occasionally I find someone who, based on the provision of objective facts, is prepared to adjust or modify their valuation. This is not about simply getting a better value; it is about reviewing someone’s opinion and assessing if it is the best opinion, given the available data.

Staff reviews

A staff review is an opportunity for management to discuss the performance of an individual and discuss areas for improvement or praise. It is also the chance for an employee to discuss concerns or improvement opportunities with management to ensure the optimum working environment.

It should not be a personal attack; it is meant to be an objective discussion based on information collated throughout the year. It does, however, highlight the importance of fully documented KPIs, processes and procedures.

Supplier reviews

The relevance and cost of suppliers will continually need to be reviewed. Is the product still relevant to my business? Is there a better product or possibly a cheaper replacement that needs to be considered? What are my terms of trade and could they be better? Is my relationship exclusive or open to all my competitors?

So never underestimate the power and benefit of a review and ensure that you, or at least your trusted team, continually use the process in all aspects of your business.

Paul Rowe is chief executive of Razor Business Solutions, which has been advising businesses nationwide for 15 years.
Contact Paul on: prowe@razorbs.com.au | 0406 800 928


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