How to Redefine Priorities Through Process-Based Management
SSI Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine discusses how a process-based management approach can help electronic security companies maintain quality and continuity.
Is anyone in your company – including yourself – indispensable? Although the best answer is “No,” I am betting the farm most people, especially those owning or employed with SMBs, answered to the affirmative. The truth is if the intent of your organization is to remain a successful, ongoing concern, grow and possibly eventually fetch a lucrative sales price, then relying too much on any single individual or supplier is an egregious error likely to reap grave consequences.
While it has become in vogue to say “people are the difference,” in actuality it is the company or corporate culture that truly makes the difference. Central to ensuring the integrity of that culture is instituting process-based management that clearly defines and documents roles, responsibilities and procedures.
For too many companies the absence of a key person performing assigned duties – whether due to leaving for another opportunity, being moved to a different position, an extended leave or illness, or death – can cause operations and/ or customer service to suffer. A similar hardship can arise when an outsourced business relationship terminates for whatever reason. Taking it to a greater extreme would be a personnel shakeup as the result of a merger or acquisition. In any of those cases there exists the imperative for that company to move onward without missing a beat, internally or externally.
Having experienced the grief of such circumstances firsthand, where no one knew how to accomplish critical tasks or “where the bodies were buried,” I can attest to just how damaging it can be to an enterprise’s forward trajectory as well as the effectiveness and morale of its legacy staff. This is a recipe for potential disaster in which details fall through cracks that rupture into gaping canyons that expand into black holes that threaten the business’ very existence. Given this, companies’ failure to adequately plan and train to harmoniously withstand these human or supplier losses is downright irresponsible.
A process-based management approach prioritizes what and how above who and thusly maintains enduring quality and continuity. Yes, you have to “have the right people on the bus,” but that bus needs to be mechanically sound or no one is getting very far. So what to do and how to get it started? Regardless of the size of your company it ain’t going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. I asked several colleagues who are experts in the business of security to weigh in.
“The first step is embracing the internal commitment to the process of implementing change throughout the company. The leader needs to create the right conditions where people are committed to change, and promote and adapt a learning organizational culture throughout the company,” says ESX Chairman George DeMarco. “Consider: What is the best way to capture the information? What is the right delivery system for staff to use? What is the best method to measure its effectiveness? How is it maintained and updated?”
“Engage in face-to-face communications and conversations. No E-mails please! The leader must ‘own’ this phase of establishing processes and protocols by establishing the reasons to create, implement and improve their business,” says Matterhorn Consulting Principal Paul Boucherle. Wife and business partner Jayne Boucherle adds, “Include the entire team. The receptionist to the CEO is important to an organization. If you call a meeting, have an agenda and provide it in advance. Many individuals need time to digest and plan what they would like to contribute in a meeting. Those who may have not contributed much in the past could very well have something important to say.”
Attrition Busters President Bob Harris adds: “When I was a security dealer, we had a very detailed SOP [standard operating procedures] notebook for every department that included job descriptions for every position in the company. In addition, we cross-trained our team with ‘utility players’ in every department. Managers had at minimum two employees who could step in and take over at a moment’s notice. We proactively invested the time to sit down one-on-one and go through the specific details everyone had to know to do each other’s jobs.”
“Awareness, consistency and verifying that the process is being adhered to are key,” says IDS Research & Development President Jeff Zwirn. “Each of your team needs to be able to not only understand their duties but those of others on their segment of the platform, and proper execution of those duties. Moreover, each employee needs to recognize and report when the process is not being followed, and take the necessary steps to report and correct the deficiency forthwith.”
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