For years, running a systems contracting business was pretty simple, really. You got up, went to work, worked hard and balanced your day in three basic areas: one-third of your time was spent with your employees; one-third with vendors and related functions; and one-third with customer-related activities. It was fairly predictable and easy to give proper attention to the people and priorities ahead of you. You balanced those three things accordingly and when you were out at a trade show or working on a special customer project one week, then the next week you caught up on the other areas the next week. It was the simple life of running a profitable systems integration company…
But now, NSCA members report a very different structure to their work day/week. They seem to spend: one-third of their time collecting money and managing cash flow; one-third with contract disputes and project issues; and one-third with human resources, banking and legal issues. When I ask about the key employees, the time spent with good customers and the relationship with key vendors … well, you get the picture.
What I’ve discovered is that key employees are being neglected, valued relationships are being strained and loyal customers are being compromised in order to get through the day. It’s like that kid’s game Whack-A-Mole, where you constantly have one unexpected problem pop up just as the last one gets resolved. They never seem to go away to make time for the most important matters.
So, how do we break that pattern? We place unwavering priority on contacting customers, interacting with key employees and managing vendor relations. We absolutely must place those aspects of business in higher priority than fixing the day-to-day problems that, by the way, should be delegated to those who hired to manage them. To me, a time-management plan for the senior management is as important to the business as a strategic plan. Sticking to it with today’s business climate is a huge challenge. I encourage you to be mindful of this change in business.