Some people kick the New Year off with resolutions, which is fine if you can sustain them. Personally I prefer not to make resolutions but to take actions, and this starts with asking myself just one question: “What am I going to do differently this year?”
Actually, I asked myself the same question in early December when I started planning for 2015. It’s the same question I ask myself every year, and the same question that I ask the people that I work with, and also one I’d ask of anybody in January.
For me doing something differently is about adding more value to whatever I deliver, and that means that I have to review each client that I work for, and what I deliver to each client. I also need to be in a position to know what worked well over the previous twelve months, what didn’t work so well, and what could have been done better. The common denominator across the board is time, and the correct approach for time is that it has to be well-managed. Fail to manage time and you fail to deliver. Or if you do deliver, you may not deliver against expectations.
I’m quite fortunate that the requirements on my time for all my clients is reasonably flexible, with the odd exception, so across each month I have the versatility to decide when I want to work for each client, which puts me in control. Then it’s down to how I manage the time I give to each client, and what I need to do in that time. This is where I can start making decisions where I can add value.
Adding value means different things to different people. But to me in adding value to something I that deliver can be measured from two angles: what it means to the client that I’m delivering to, and what it means to me. For example for the client it might be that I can deliver something faster, clearer, or with more features. For me it might be that making something more efficient I might make those less interesting but necessary tasks more interesting. The important thing to remember is to find out what will add value to the client, not what I think will add value.
Take one T&C scheme that I look after, for example. With over twenty members there’s a lot of admin to be done, and some tasks can consume a considerable amount of time and, with a little thought, could be delivered more efficiently and effectively.
The management information for T&C schemes subject to the FCA rules, like many processes, run on Checks and Balances. The Checks are the inputs, such as the routine tasks like file check results, SPS renewals, CPD hours recorded etc. The Balances are the outputs, such as management information. In this particular scheme much of this to date has been the manual transfer of information from different sources, often in a variety of different formats, which then need to be converted into a different format to produce the management information outputs. All of which took up a lot of my time. Consulting with the client, the added value for them was identified as being a change in the amount of information but also in a more simplistic format.
This provided a more manageable and practical system for all involved
The solution was a complete redesign of all the input sources, and then the same with the output material. Of the latter, one of the documents identified as needing a complete overhaul was the monthly supervisor reports used in 121 meetings. Consultations were held to identify the preferred format and content before redesign commenced. The end result is that these supervisor reports are now considerably easier to use and, whereas previously they contained just the year to date information, with the supervisor needing to refer to previous reports where necessary, the management information is now shown on a month by month basis as well as year to date and matched to the KPI’s. More information with less time spent to deliver it.
Another example of adding value was a complete review of another client’s T&C calendar. Previously this had been set up so that some annual tasks were scheduled too close together, for example an internal TCF survey conducted in one month, followed by the annual benchmarking testing the next month and so on. This would inevitably create bottlenecks and quite a lot of chasing for responses as it focused on a much wider audience involving all members of the scheme. Other tasks such as competency assessments were also affected since these were spread across the whole calendar year and there was always the inevitable rush to get the last ones completed in December.
Consulting with not just the T&C Supervisor but also the members, the solution for the annual tasks was to revise the entire calendar and reschedule so that there were decent intervals in between the tasks. This provided a more manageable and practical system for all involved, and should get more buy-in as by providing some breathing space the scheme members won’t feel as if they are under a constant barrage. We also agreed to reschedule the competency assessments across a shorter time frame, taking into account potential busy periods and holiday periods but also building capacity for over-runs and avoiding situations where assessments had to be carried over.
Time is with us in everything that we do. Time can also be against us if we don’t recognise how it can be managed. Within our T&C frameworks, like with any other process, we don’t have to let things stay the same. Time plays a big part and, in as much as the members of a T&C scheme are expected to demonstrate continuous personal development, there’s absolutely no reason why those of us who look after T&C schemes should not consider, if not actually undertake, some form of continuous development, personal or process-wise, within the T&C scheme itself. So part of that development must be to use time as effectively as possible.