If your 2021 business plan clearly outlines goals for growth, is everything already in place to effectively support it? It’s easy to look at the bigger picture and be motivated by numbers and targets but if the business infrastructure isn’t set-up to support them, business growth and increased revenue on paper might not mean an increase in profitability in reality. We’re going to explore the importance of creating, managing and maintaining business cadences to support business growth, no matter how big or small or rapid or slow the potential opportunities.
What is a business cadence?
Before we dive in, let’s be clear on what we mean by a business cadence. Think of business cadence as a rhythmic sequence of routines, processes and systems that happen with varying frequency within a business. It could be team meetings, staff reviews, quarterly releases…etc.
Why are business cadences important?
First and foremost, formalizing business cadences can increase the efficiency of a business. For instance, in professional service industries, skilled resources should be focusing their skilled time on billable hours (whether that’s client retention or growth) not losing time on administrative or in-house tasks that could be completed more efficiently. That’s not to say these tasks don’t have an important role in the smooth running of a business. But establishing a business cadence will consider how these can be completed with minimum timing and effort to free resources up for billable hours. And even within those billable hours, a set of business cadences might be created to support profitable delivery of a project and improve client retention. It’s all about how to make resources work smarter, not necessarily harder. Business cadences give structure and by doing so support discipline and predictability within an organization.
Business cadences are like an organization’s muscle memory. The more they are used, managed and maintained, the stronger and more intuitive they become. After time, they become capable of being pushed to do more which brings us onto why business cadences are important for growth – because they directly support scalability of a business. If a business is running efficiently then business growth becomes both a possibility and perhaps already a reality. If there are issues within an organization in terms of processes (or lack thereof), ambiguity, uncertainty or inefficiencies, these are only put under the spotlight as an organization expands, in turn becoming larger issues and pressure points.
So how are business cadences established?
There’s probably a lot taking place already – weekly team meetings, recording of timesheets, monthly invoicing…etc. So, first of all consider everything that’s already happening – their frequencies and if they’re a necessity. Consider how it could be streamlined. Automation becomes key here – especially for some of the more administrative tasks. What can be automated to free up all important resource to focus on activities that support the core of the business and its growth? Also by automating certain processes (like timesheets), it can remove human error – in turn making the running of the business far more efficient. A structured cadence can also help remove some of the IP from individuals and places it back into the business – allowing for future growth and expansion that is not tied to individuals.
Where possible software can be used to automate or set up business cadences. At Mission Control, we like to break our cadences down into frequency:
Here we’re looking at the micro running of the business.
This should be done daily for accuracy. Not only will this help in assessing profitability of projects but it will also inform quoting on future work. There are also a range of tools available to automate time tracking to save both time and improve accuracy. At Mission Control we utilize tools like the ‘Calendar Converter’ which converts Salesforce events into time log entries. Also ‘Meeting Manager’ which will record meeting times for everyone involved, meaning no discrepancies between team records.
With a tool like ‘Daily Digest’, the daily ‘to-do’ list need not be considered and created each day. Simply have it emailed straight to your teams’ individual inboxes to free up time for them to actually start working through the tasks – not creating them.
Whether it’s a stand-up meeting or daily morning huddle, this is an efficient cadence to have to gain instant visibility on the wider teams’ daily focus. Structure the meeting with a tool like Mission Control’s ‘Kanban’ which shows all actions planned, in progress and completed. It streamlines the meeting and allows the team to see progression across the project.
From weekly WIP meetings to pipeline reviews to working sessions, ensure every meeting has a cadence; that is a clear frequency but also purpose and expected outcome. Again ‘Meeting Manager’ will allow you to formalize this in one place with agenda items, agenda tasks, full team visibility and meeting outcomes. To prepare for business growth, there should be a good mix of meetings from servicing and reviewing existing work to exploring opportunities for growth and new business revenue generation.
How efficiently is your organizations’ resource working? The ‘Role Utilization’ report can tell you in a snapshot. From overall utilization through to billable performance, it’s critical to track this regularly in order to get an early indication of whether performance could impact cash flow. Consider starting this weekly and moving out to monthly once an understanding and insights are sufficiently gained.
By making this a business cadence, it allows an organization to be on the front foot with resourcing shortfalls or bottlenecks. It also allows an organization to be prepared ahead of likely business wins. A tool like Mission Control’s ‘Scheduler’ allows you to get a holistic view of resource capacity, current allocations, and factors like non-working days to safeguard against any issues well ahead of time.
If not completed weekly, then this will include invoicing – critical to cash flow for a growing business. Whether you’re using fixed price, milestone deliverables, or time & materials for billing, use software tools, like Mission Control, to help keep you up-to-date with your invoicing. Automatically generate and issue invoices when needed and keep track of all payments in one place.
This is important for any business but especially those with significant growth plans. Use a tool like ‘Revenue Recognition’ to see actual, scheduled and forecast revenue distribution to inform monthly conversations and planning.
Whilst we’ve covered a range of arguably more administrative business cadences, it’s essential an organization that plans to grow, also establishes and prioritizes a strategic cadence. This could be daily leadership team huddles, weekly department updates and monthly board meetings – all of which are critical to not only unifying stakeholders in the present but engaging them for future goals. Setting up an infrastructure and rhythm for stakeholders to be part of, stay informed and help shape the future growth of a business will be instrumental to the overall success and engagement in the growth plans.
If your organization uses Salesforce and would like to explore how to utilize native software to establish business cadences, chat to the Aprika team today.