Do you have champions?

My business takes me into many different companies.  I get to see the good and the bad and, most importantly, I find the common themes to good and bad business practices.  I want to share one of the good ones with you today.

Here’s a question:  does your company use software to help you process transactions?  Quicbkooks?  Autocad?  Excel and Word?  I already know the answer and it is yes.  Here is the next question:  do you have a champion for the production software you use in your business?  Someone that is really good, that is really passionate about making that software sing for you.  Too often, this answer is no and if you don’t have a champion, your company is not running as well as it could.

I have a client that uses Quickbooks for all of his accounting.  The accountant is good enough to create invoices, process checks and pay bills.  But he is not a champion of Quickbooks, he simply uses it to do his job.  The result is the owner of the company does not get good reports, the banker is always at the owner because the financial statements are a little out of kilter.  And the owner does not get business intelligence reports to help him make better decisions.

I have another client that uses Excel in all her estimating.  She is good enough in excel to create some pretty sophisticated calculations but she is not good enough to bullet proof the workbook and protect the integrity of the numbers.  Others go into that workbook and can easily make changes that screw up the formulas.  If she had a champion of Excel, her business would operate more efficiently and the threats of bad data would be greatly diminished.

Here is what I believe you should do to help your business be more successful.  Make a list of your mission critical software.  Then do an honest evaluation of your staff to find the champion of that software.  If you don’t have one, add that criteria to the job description of a new hire.  In the hiring process, find a way to evaluate whether someone is really good with a particular mission critical software.  If you are not qualified to evaluate this person’s technical skills, find someone to help you with that evaluation.  Maybe your CPA, maybe me, maybe a vendor that you trust.

Well, do you have champions? Once our business is up and running, there are no revolutionary actions that will take us to the next level.  It’s all about making our business better – subtle step by subtle step.  This is one of those steps.

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