Many speciality trade contractors are compartmentalized when it comes to decision making. The solution? Pick a champion and streamline the process.
By / Jessica Kirby
Business today is all about collaboration and feedback, but that can sometimes become too much of a good thing. Considering a new investment from all angles and needs can result in a more robust decision, but if it goes on for too long or crosses too may desks, the process can be paralyzed.
Just look at what happened at one sheet metal shop when the company bought a new spiral machine that included a metal burning label printer—except the printer that arrived was not the correct model. Rectifying the situation required decisions about several factors, and before long it became clear that no one was available to make the final decision. To solve it, the shop employees, who needed resolution the most, stepped forward and said the decision had already been made.
“It is important to have a champion, and that person doesn’t have to be a technical person,” says James Beveridge, CEO at BuildCentrix. “That person should know why the decision is important, understand how the solution will benefit the group, and be willing to step forward.”
Part of the solution leans on a bigger story about spend management. You don’t want to give employees cart blanche spending power, but there may be times when the shop needs a new piece of equipment, like a specialized printer, and if they can’t get through to anyone to get approval, they can end up stuck and so can productivity.
“The whole decision-making by panel is understandable because consulting people with skill sets in different areas makes sense, but the execution can fail a bit,” Beveridge says.
Buying new technology
When it comes to choosing new technology, companies seldom want a platform that only does one thing. They are typically looking for something that covers multiple vendors and something they can grow into.
“That works well for us because our system integrates with most popular apps and software, so for the client, everything is in one place,” Beveridge says. “The challenge we face is that a platform with multiple functions requires multiple approvals.
Even if several individuals approve, they may need to share the expense with other departments, introducing new layers of approval.”
For instance, a technology decision might need examination and approval from IT, the executive, VDC, field workers, payroll, and, potentially, the operational branch.
“With so many stakeholders, it can be really difficult to get to a place where someone says, ‘Yes, let’s do it’,” Beveridge says.
Who’s your champion?
The solution begins with readdressing the decision-making process. That could mean holding specific, action item meetings for these kinds of decisions or using a weighted scale or metric for determining support.
A streamlined, effective process should consider the time horizon for the proposed change or purchase. What does the ideal case look like and when can you get there?
“So, if you want your system to be full optimized within 12 months, it’s important to determine the starting case, where the process begins, and subsequent steps to achieve the ideal space,” Beveridge says. “It’s important that the plan covers achievable, trackable milestones from execution to decision making.”
Budget versus value
When it comes to new technology, the value question is easy and the return on investment is simple to calculate. And once the decision is made, it is not one people wish to revisit. That is why the vendor should be consulted to ensure the correct decision about the most suitable products—for now and for the future—are up for consideration.
“When I meet with clients, I just want to help them,” Beveridge says. “It is frustrating when you know you can help a company move forward, save money, and be more productive but you keep running into roadblocks. We want to help companies and help them see we have ideas for how to do that. We just need the engagement.”
Learn more at BuildCentrix.com.