There’s one simple thing that every scaling business does each month that ensures growth stays on track.
If it’s not sales training, executive leadership meetings or R&D updates, what could it possibly be?
In today’s blog, we’re talking about the one thing that scaling companies do every month.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING?
Every successful business that hopes to scale up in the future needs to be doing one very important thing every month. You may already be doing it at your company, but a monthly operations check-in meeting is something that almost every growing business is doing.
But hold on a second, that’s it? A monthly meeting? Doesn’t your senior leadership team and executive management group already meet way too often every month?
Well, while that might be true, not all meetings are the same. If you’ve been to a two-hour Zoom call that could have easily just been an email, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
The monthly operations check-up is different from your quarterly planning meetings or even your monthly stand-up.
So, what exactly do you cover in a monthly operations check-in meeting?
THE MONTH IN REVIEW
Treat every meeting like the first two minutes of your favorite Netflix drama, that is, with a quick recap of everything you might have missed last time. Go over the previous month’s wins, losses and give updates on the progress of any items raised at last month’s meetings. It’s here we can talk numbers and see how our projections lined up to reality.
It’s a chance to review the metrics we’ve set for success and then tweak them based on updated data. It’s also an opportunity to have a look at the people that make up our business and decide whether everyone is being used optimally. The monthly operations check-in is more than just an executive catch-up, it’s the pulse of the business and the first place you’ll see issues that need to be fixed. So, let’s take a look at a couple of the agenda items you’ll need in your monthly operations check-in.
Key performance indicators or KPIs are those magical metrics which tell a story about how your business is travelling. Your business probably has thousands of them – everything from weekly sales targets and profit margins, all the way to the most granular of data, like calls per minute or tickets closed per day.
Knowing which KPIs are relevant to the overall performance of the company is half the battle. You probably wouldn’t spend half an hour discussing how much time customer service is spending on lunch breaks when there are other more important data sets to review. Look for metrics which directly translate to the business’ goals and strategies and organize them into four categories: Employees, Customers, Revenue and Processes. Pick between 10-12 of your most important KPIs and have them arranged on a red/green dashboard for easy reference. Green means the KPI was met, red means the KPI wasn’t reached and some improvement is needed.
The KPI dashboard should also be a good mix of both leading and results indicators. Result indicators tell you what has already happened, like sales revenue or items sold. Leading indicators give you an idea of what is to come, like projected profit or seasonal demand.
When it comes to discussing and analyzing KPIs in your monthly operations check-in, the COO should have already selected 3-4 KPI’s that need special attention. This could be based on a drop in performance or as a response to changed company priorities. Other times, it could be because one particular KPI has been sitting in the red for months with no signs of improvement.
Action plans should be established for the KPIs that are underperforming with the hopes they’ll be back in the green next month.
As a side note, if meetings in your business are notorious for running overtime, consider adding the meeting length as a final KPI on your dashboard. It’s sure to get a chuckle as well as maybe reducing the meeting length.
As part of the senior executive leadership team, you should have already been indoctrinated with the CEO’s vision along with his grand plan for the company and the future. While its easy to get bogged down with weekly sales figures and project updates, the long-term strategic plan of the business should always be in the back of your mind.
The monthly operations check-in is the perfect place to see how you’re tracking against the CEO’s endgame. Are you taking steps to make sure this dream is realized in a reasonable timeframe? What roadblocks are preventing progress? Is the CEO’s plan even still viable? These are the questions you need to be asking to make sure you’re all still aligned and working towards the same thing.
It may not be feasible to review your CEO’s 40-page plan every monthly check-in, so abridging a shorter, lean version can help speed up the process. Just make sure this document covers everything from company identity, the core problem that are being solved for your customers, solutions, competition, and sales and marketing strategy.
People will almost always be the core of your business and having the right people in the right positions is crucial to your success. A high-level review of all staff, team and crucial positions can help you fine-tune your business’ operations.
Now, this doesn’t mean you pull up an org chart in the meeting and start crossing off the names of people you consider to be underperforming. That kind of people management is best left for their direct managers.
A people and team review is about working out where the inefficiencies and bottlenecks of your business are. Rather than singling out specific employees, this review is a chance to identify teams, departments and workflows that are underperforming and discuss ways to remedy them.
In business, we need to keep a constant eye on money flowing in and out. That’s why we make a habit of analyzing financial records at almost all of our executive meetings. That includes the quarterly planning, annual review and even monthly operations check-ins.
In terms of what we should be looking at, ideally, you’ll have the opportunity to review all relevant monthly financial statements. This includes your Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement. These will provide a high-level overview of your financial position and help identify any obvious anomalies.
With that top-level exploration in mind, you can then start looking into your budget, financial forecast scenarios, and any specific elements that may seem relevant. This may include things like your expense categories, accounts receivable and payment schedules.
More than that, reviewing the data as a team allows for greater transparency and encourages constructive discussion about how to plug leaky money sinks.
If you weren’t paying attention in the meeting, there might be a few issues, because there’s homework. Each action plan, each resolve and every decision needs someone attached to it. It’s all well and good to promise a 15% increase in sales, but if no-one is delegated the responsibility of performing the task, it’s just going to end up an incomplete project for next month’s meeting.
Next to every action, project or promise, document the name of a person, team or department to take ownership. That team or individual will have a full calendar month to start making changes and their progress can be reported on at the next check-in.
On the flipside of this, staff that have successfully completed assigned tasks from the previous month should be recognized and rewarded for their contribution.
Knowing what needs to be covered and what advantages it can bring to your company, the Monthly Operations check-in is a crucial way for businesses to keep on track of their progress throughout the year and make changes as situations change.
If you’re looking for help planning and strategizing for the future, the right advice is priceless. Contact us today and we can go from there.
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