In the midst of managing the day to day operations of our department or business, we can often miss the subtle clues that tell us if everything is running as it should be. If we want to be proactive in terms of business health, we can conduct a mini review or audit of key areas on a regular basis to ensure our operating infrastructure is sound, any potential issues that could cause damage or distress are dealt to, when they first appear and what works well is identified and celebrated. Here’s some steps to get you on your way:
1. Strategic goals and objectives
Check there are processes around annual strategic thinking and thinking activities that result in a documented strategic plan, with strategic goals and objectives. Check that something is done with the plan i.e. translated into annual business plans, and that the plans are actioned, monitored, adjusted and monitored throughout their life span. Identify the systems in place to ensure the strategic goals and objectives and, the goals and objectives of business plans, are achieved.
2. Values and Culture
Identify what the documented organisational values are and ask staff to describe the values and culture of the business or their section, to determine whether the values and culture are healthy and positive or something else entirely. Check the norms regarding communications, working as a team, being collegial, being professional, adhering to company policies and legislative requirements, customer service and relationship building.
Check whether the organisational structure has been developed by default or design; and whether it still meets the current needs of the business i.e. too lean and mean or soft and flabby? Check the formal power structure versus the informal power structure to see if they’re similar or wildly different. Check whether leadership exists and if so, in leadership roles or other roles. Check the structure in relation to strategic goals and objectives to see if it can support future organisational growth and development.
Check to see all the systems needed run the business actually exist and being used by staff. Determine whether there are any duplicated or missing systems. Check whether the key systems are user friendly, easy to use and known by all staff. Check what systems exist to ensure policies, procedures and systems are reviewed regularly and updated, if need be. Check the internal quality control systems, to ensure products and/or services, are critiqued regularly; check the complaints system and procedures, to ensure client/customer feedback is captured. Check the system for monitoring the strategic plans and annual business plans, so the strategic goals are achieved.
Check to see if the staffing levels are appropriate; whether the right people, with the right skills, are in the right roles. Determine whether roles are clearly defined and all staff know what is expected of them. Check whether staff are actively engaged and enthusiastic about their work or disengaged and stale. Check whether staff are supported in their work. Check whether staff are resourced to do their job.
5. Policies and Procedures
Check that policies and procedures are documented and updated regularly. Determine where policy/procedure gaps exist and where duplications occur. Check whether standard operating procedures are in an easy to follow/use form – and are actually being used, in the manner intended.
6. Products and/or services
Check to see the current product/service offerings are relevant and what the market requires. Check client/customer and staff feedback for complaints or suggestions for improvement. Determine where the products/services are in their life cycle. Determine what the competitors are doing.
Check whether the business/unit is viable. Check whether the business is operating within budget and closely monitored. Check the appropriateness of financial policies on debtors/creditors; investments; debt financing, cash handling, cheque signatories, overdrafts etc. Check whether the GST/IRD funds are being used only for those purposes. Check the record keeping is up to date and appropriately filed. Check whether end of year financial information is compiled and sent to the accountant within a designated time frame.
8. PR and Communications
Check the status of the communications plan, to see if it is documented or held in people’s heads. Identify the key stakeholders and the channels used to communicate with them. Check the frequency of the communications. Check the professionalism of the communications (i.e. error free, right tone, clear messages). Examine customer/staff formal and informal feedback to see how the business/unit is perceived or experienced. Examine the physical work space to determine the message it conveys to staff and the public. Check the image staff are conveying by their dress code, to se it fits with the organisation’s professional image.
Check the profile of customers/clients to determine who they are and where they’re from. Determine whether the database of customers/clients is regularly updated. Determine whether you want to keep all or some of your customers/clients. Check the ways customers/clients are acknowledged by the business.
10. Leadership & Management
Check whether the leaders are leading and the managers are managing. Check whether the leadership and management styles are appropriate and conducive for achieving the business goals and enabling staff to be their best. Check whether people walk the talk or simply talk the talk. Check what they are role modelling to others.
Mini reviews enable a reviewer to take a quick snapshot of a business or unit at a particular point in time. They’re a great opportunity to identify and celebrate what works well and what may need attention.