There Should Be a Way To….
Multiple times this week, I’ve heard this phrase, “there should be a way to….” insert task. Some of these are reasonable, for example, “email everyone at your internal domain.” Others, less so, such as, “bill in a way that is clearly not in compliance with the existing contract.” I generally prefer the first type, as those are the problems I like to solve.
When looking for ways to improve a business, whether it is a law firm, a non-profit, or other business, we start by looking at the major processes in the major functional areas. Are those processes even working? Do they make sense for the business type and size? Is there a commonly-known better way? Once everything is working, then we work on customization. What would work better for the people involved? Can we adjust tasks so that the most competent person is handling each task? And my favorite, is there a way to automate it? (You’d be amazed at what can be outsourced and automated.)
The second type of problem comes up frequently, though. There are often things that would make life easier or make a business more money, but cannot or should not be done for some reason. Then my job becomes education, about what the contract says, what the law says, or simply why certain things are not technically possible (or if possible, not reasonably affordable). This is an important conversation to have, as tasks, investments in technology, and business processes should be reviewed critically.
Recently, I recommended some custom software that was quoted to cost over $75K to an organization and was met with shock. They wanted the solution, needed it, could afford it, but the sticker shock was hard to overcome. More than just education was needed, so we had to take a two-prong approach. First, we accomplished the goal in multiple different ways, cheaper. This clearly illustrated the problems with the cheaper solutions. Second, we broke the project up into much smaller, more palatable steps, so decision makers could clearly see what was happening each step of the way. A few extra steps, but that’s what it took to get everyone on board with the plan.
I try to speak regularly with every business I work with because it’s that comment, “there should be a way to,” that keeps us coming up with fun new improvements and challenges. After all, there should be a way to better visualize your case data or get you out of the middle of the intake process.