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From FacePalm To (Almost) FistPump

It’s not often (although more often than I’d like to admit) that I see a business who couldn’t have got things anymore wrong if they’d tried. This case study is about one of those businesses.

I was recruited after the departure of a Finance Director and his member of staff, to help build a new finance team and turn around the perception of Finance to the other departments.

There were a number of fundamental problems in the business as whole.

  • no staff morale,
  • the wrong people in the wrong jobs,
  • no automation,
  • clunky software,
  • bad management,
  • and the finances in a complete mess.

My first focus was the get the Finance Team working the way it should. The Finance Director had recruited a brilliant administrator into a Credit Control role and she was completely out of her comfort and skill zone. I began by helping her work out if she would grow into the role with some support and training. However, it soon became very clear that, although she would have been brilliant in a different job, this was not her calling and unfortunately I had to terminate her contract. I replaced her with a seasoned credit controller who took the 90+ day debt percentage from 50% to 5% of overall outstanding debt in 3 months.

In the meantime, I started picking at the numbers. It became incredibly clear very quickly that nothing had been reconciled since the beginning of time, and there were a lot of holes in the data meaning the management information the leadership team were receiving each month was completely useless. Myself and my team got to work reconciling everything: Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, all the Intercompany accounts and the entire Balance Sheet. We also had to correct some incorrect Accounting practices that had been used and got the numbers to a point where they were nice and shiny, and most importantly correct, so that the leadership team could rely on them to make better decisions.

Next;  sort out the shonky payroll and HR software. I changed it to an online system and outsourced the Payroll to a dedicated payroll company, taking the pressure off the team to make sure they stayed up to date with legal updates. It also took away the risk of single point of failure should anything happen to the member of staff dealing with it previously.

Finally, staff morale. I created an employee satisfaction survey which brought out some shocking results. Staff morale was as low as you could imagine, and it needed fixing… fast. I introduced an employee benefits scheme, looked at the roles people were doing and organised additional training where needed, as well as implementing ways of making sure everyone was involved in the overall goals of the business.

It was no easy feat and is by no means finished, but the business is in a very different place to when I started.