Do you have any of these project types sitting on your desk and swimming around in your brain? We see many different projects with our clients and thought it would be fun to classify some of them in this way.
The “back burner” project is one of our favorites. This is a project that was born out of a meeting with a group of people who were discussing something, then someone said we really should do this when we have more time. The group agreed it was a good idea, that it really needed done, but also agreed that no one really had the time to tackle it. This project then got put on someone’s list who is planning to handle it when they have time. Now everyday they see this on their list and it’s on their mind, but they just don’t see when they’ll have time to deal with it. Eventually, this type of project either gets forgotten or worse, it moves to the “on fire” list when something comes up that forces the team to give it attention.
The “prerequisite project” can be ever daunting because you know that once you get this project done, there is another one immediately following. You know this type of project, people are discussing a project they are getting ready to work on, or they are in the middle of a project, and they discover something else has to be cleaned up before they can proceed.
“After the first of the year” projects are booked after the first of the year because the people making that schedule truly think their schedules will slow down at that time. They intend to really focus on these projects and knock them out in the first quarter, but sometimes other things pop up that need their attention, so these get pushed back.
It seems that many projects are “on fire” and must be dealt with right away. These projects steal us away from all the other things we meant to do. This type of project is born out of the discovery of a problem internally or a customer reported issue and take the highest priority. In this type of project, the team can be frazzled and can often times make mistakes in their haste.
The “regulatory” project is not usually thought of as a fun project, but it’s absolutely necessary. These projects at least have specific guidelines we know we must follow but sometimes those guidelines are rather lengthy and can be confusing. When the team is pressed for time, reading those requirements and understanding them can be difficult.
Whatever the project type, it can be overwhelming when you think about all you have to do and the time frame you have allotted. We find it best to make an exhaustive list of all projects at hand first, once you have that you can truly start to find your way. Stay tuned for our next post with some tips and tricks on best practices for tackling a large project list.
One reason that some business owners and managers fear outsourcing processes is because they think they will “lose control” over areas of the business. That, in part, boils down to the fact that they are afraid the process will evolve, get updated, they will become reliant on the whoever is performing the process, and then control is gone. We completely understand that fear, and we remedy it by sharing ALL knowledge with our clients. When we go into a client to perform a process for them, we document that process and make sure to include detailed instructions and screen shots. Process documents are shared with the client in an editable format after they are created, and any time they are edited or updated. Our business model is built to support clients using us for the short or long term. Many times, we are brought on to support a client who then grows into the stage of needing to hire someone internally.
The bottom line is, we don’t do messy break-ups after a project closes. We are happy the client used us in the first place and feel proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. We share the knowledge because it’s the right thing to do, but also because we want clients who stay with us because they are getting value out of what we do, not because they feel handcuffed, and we always want them to know they can come back anytime they have another project or need.
We are a vendor for our clients. We deal with our clients’ vendors on a daily basis and we have been highly impressed with some and aghast at others. The vendors that do a great job are the ones that show their clients daily that they WANT their business by being responsive, respecting deadlines, understanding their needs and being proactive.
Client happiness should be of paramount importance to companies but many times it seems that it’s not. When we don’t get communication and action from our vendors, we don’t feel respected. We don’t feel that they find us important and that if we stopped doing business with them, no one would even care. Communication is extremely important, but how often are we NOT getting that from our vendors? Have we come to accept a certain level of non-responsiveness?
We show our clients respect and truly operate as an extension of them. We make it our business to understand what they want up front and we are always accountable for our actions.
In addition to worrying about all the administrative tasks that come along with taking on a new company, it’s also important to spend a great deal of time on the communication aspect for the new employees. As humans, we all tend to deal with the known more easily than the unknown. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. The staff you are acquiring will have a great amount of questions and need information to make them feel secure. Mergers and acquisitions touch many different departments within a company and a Project Manager is needed to ensure everyone is on the same page, tasks are getting completed and the newly acquired and existing staff understands how it affects them.
There are pages upon pages of tasks that need to be completed but to name a few… our Project Managers start with a structured meeting with your key stakeholders to discuss the merger or acquisition and develop a project plan. Inevitably, new things come to light as we move through the process, that’s okay – we can update our project plan throughout to make sure all tasks are completed on time. Our project matrix will be constantly updated, and regular meetings will be held.
While we focus on completing the administrative tasks that must be done, we also never forget to communicate with your staff, both existing and newly acquired, at the level where you are comfortable. After the initial announcement is made, we will be ready to roll out our New Staff presentation which covers all items pertinent to the new staff such as payroll, benefits, Acquiring Company's High Level staff intro/summary and technical access items.
All I-9s from acquired company will be audited and remediated timely, processes will be put into place to ensure compliant I-9s going forward. Also, new staff will be provided a New Hire packet and a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that we create. Staff will undoubtedly have questions regarding benefits, even after the presentation. We can handle those questions for you and make sure all staff complete the required paperwork. We are also happy to review the company handbook with new staff, we can review the staff’s old handbook to make sure we point out benefits or rules that may be different to them.
Behind the scenes we will be working to assimilate data for your internal departments in the format they need. Many times, you will be given data in several different formats and combining can be time consuming, no worries, we’ve got that! We will also pull the data you need for your payroll, HRIS/HRM and benefits administrators.
We will of course review your newly acquired employee files, make sure I-9s are audited and that files are moved to the storage location of your choice.
There is much, much more to this type of project, if you have a merger or acquisition in the future please reach out to see how we can help.
We hear the word "mess" quite a bit at RHO. Crystal and I have met several business owners and managers who think they have a big mess. They think their policies and procedures are lacking, or all over the place. They think their files are out of control, they don't know what is where. They apologize up front for the "mess" we are about to see.
What we've observed is that all of these business owners and managers who think they have the world's biggest mess have tunnel vision, they think it is only their company who has such struggles. That's just not the case. Not at all. As a business grows, papers get shoved into drawers, contracts get scanned and saved in one place, then someone else comes along and saves the same contract in another location. Before you know it, you can't always find the files you need.
The TRUTH is... we actually love a good mess, we get joy from walking into a situation where the people involved need help and helping them. We like finding things in disarray and straightening them out, cleaning them up. We get excited thinking about working with the staff directly (out of the manager's hair) to figure out where a process is going wrong and helping them get organized, setting policies and procedures for the future, and training all staff on the new way. We are there for a defined amount of time per the business owner's preference, or we can stay on indefinitely to add that extra layer of organization. We love what we do and we want to do it for you!
Organizing employee files is fun... right? Maybe fun isn't the right word but it sure does feel good to get those filing cabinets dusted off and the papers in their right place. We are in the process of a major employee file clean up for a client and they have seen stacks and stacks of papers disappear into nice, neat, labeled file folders. We also took these paper records and have created an employee database that is easily searchable. Then each employee file was reviewed so that we know what pertinent items we're missing on each person. Now each employee can come by to meet with us in the office to make sure we have all of the important papers reviewed and signed.
Many companies are in this position, you hire a few people and the employee files aren't all that important. Your company is small but mighty and you've got a lot of other work to do.
Then you hire a few more people, and a few more, and before you know it your files are a mess. You've gotten so busy that taking the time to focus on those files is really not something you can do. We can help.
We view our role as Project Managers as not only designing the road map, we also do the work to get you across the finish line. Your day can continue as normal and trust that the work is getting done - and getting done correctly!
Over the past few weeks Crystal (our COO) and I have had an amazing journey. As we have met new people, formed new client relationships and friendships there is a glaring theme. All businesses have struggles. Period. This isn't a news flash to anyone, I realize, and it wasn't a news flash to me either. However, what has been eye opening is how MUCH the same business owners and managers feel across varying organizations.
One of the most common issues companies realize they must face is their lack of documentation of processes. After you've been in business for several years and you look around at who is responsible for which tasks... and then who else knows how to do those tasks you may realize that you really don't have a good contingency plan if one of your key staff were to suddenly be out of work. Just the thought of sitting down and typing all processes gives managers and executives a headache, and half the time it's hard to even know where to begin.
We always begin with a simple list. Gather a few key staff and get started. List all departments within the company, then list sub-departments of each department. Then list the key products or services each of those sub-departments produces for your company, what important work comes out of that area. Assign names to those tasks.
At this stage we like to enter the information into our Project Management software but if you don't have that you can use a spreadsheet. Once you have a comprehensive list of tasks you'll need to assign someone to take the lead on getting processes created, collected, language/voice streamlined and then into a master document. This is the part that will take all the time and this is where most companies have to put things on hold for other fires they need to put out. That's understandable and it's the number one reason why companies are lacking this important documentation. This is definitely a project where you must stay the course to get it completed and then from there it must be monitored and updated as things change. It takes a few vigilant people who are committed to having well documented processes and lots of time but it's very worth it and rewarding in the end.
Open Enrollment meeting assistance is something we love to do! Last week we had the opportunity to join a broker team to assist them with employee meetings.
We know that clear communication is the key to a successful Open Enrollment. Prior to the meeting we had a brief but thorough discussion with the broker to determine their expectations and requirements of us for the meetings. This was an employer group not using a Benefit Admin system so we prepared election forms and an Open Enrollment booklet for the broker to review and approve.
During the OE meetings we spent time with members, had one-on-one discussions about their benefit options, answered questions, noted additional ID card orders, and of course made sure all required information was collected.
Following the OE meetings, we took all forms (securely) to our office and digitized all employee forms into a spreadsheet as well as scanned copies for the broker’s records. All the while the employer group had no idea we were not actually employees of the broker’s office. We operated like a well-oiled machine, even though we had never actually worked with this broker before. It comes from years of experience on the broker’s side as well as ours and working toward a common goal of satisfied members.
If you are a broker or an employer group and think it would be helpful to have an extra set of (experienced) hands at your Open Enrollment meeting, please contact us, we’d love to join you!
Right Hand Operations is thrilled to welcome Crystal Saunders to our team!
Crystal is a highly skilled professional with years of comprehensive experience, most recently in the health insurance field. Crystal has experience running large-scale projects as the Project Manager and is adept at Developing Policies & Procedures, Client Service, Process Improvement and Streamlining Office Operations. When Crystal gets involved with a project, she embeds herself in the processes andculture. Starting with the end goal in mind keeps her focused and allows for proper goal setting for project team members. She has a unique way with employees which creates motivation and dedication among all, as she promotes learning into daily activities. Clients feel comfortable and confident knowing Crystal has their best interest at heart and will move mountains to meet deadlines. We couldn’t be more excited to have her on our team and we look forward to a great future!
We can all agree that our people are our most valuable resources in a company.
In my experience, the best business owners and managers know not only the value – but also the LIMITATIONS of their staff.
They give people a chance, show them the way, and then let them do their thing.
If you give people more than they can handle, you’re setting them up for failure, they will be unhappy, and they will hurt your business in the long run.
If you truly KNOW your staff and can honestly evaluate their skills and abilities, you can appropriately assign tasks and responsibilities and get the most productivity out of your people.
I'm Lindsey Crabtree, the Founder and CEO of Right Hand Operations. I love meeting new people and making connections, I love observing the commonalities between our clients and how we all have similar struggles in the business world. As I have time I enjoy reflecting on experiences and sharing what I've learned.