The old adage of ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ comes to mind (honestly!) as our business passes another financial year end.
At the end of the year we conduct a full business SWOT and make our improvement plans for the year ahead.
We should also take a little time to celebrate success, however due to the nature of the team, we rarely do too much of this and it’s usually a brief nod and a wink, a pat on the back, and then away we go again.
At this time our forecasts are also set. Or are they targets? Whatever they are, they are decided upon, written down and we work to them.
I reflect upon ten years ago when it was quite simple to lay out the forecast; Inputting the sales from where we knew they were going to come, adding in the costs where we knew we’d need to spend. All very easy back in the day.
How times have changed.
We turnover more now, so that in itself makes the task harder, however it’s the uncertainty from customers that leads to forecasting being an altogether more difficult task.
Client wallets, or in particular thoughts on when they are going to spend, have tended to stay closed a lot more in recent years.
Economic uncertainty, I.T. becoming more reliant, our ability to give quicker DR solutions should a catasrophe arise have all contributed to this as well. Now we see more ‘we’ll spend it when we have to!’ budgeting.
The impact of this can be great to a service delivery organisation. If clients aren’t sure when they are going to upgrade, add new businesses or develop systems then we can never be sure on when to ‘staff up’ or invest too.
Not only this but trends on technical fault calls into our business seem to follow very little pattern these days. Gone is the Monday rush, the Friday afternoon relax, and the weekend ‘shut up shop’.
Customers now work flexible hours in flexible locations and rarely follow the traditional rush hour, all enabled by the I.T. and telecoms we provide and support of course.
So we’ve set a forecast for this year like we always do. We have a plan to follow in terms of staff recruitment, our own internal systems investment, our own technical training and our marketing funds. We have also listed how many technical faults we believe our clients will have, on each day of each month…
I now forecast that by the end of the 1st quarter an additional urgent client request for a new system, a customer call regarding a business they’ve just purchased, a new client out of the blue requiring an urgent overhaul and the latest technology requiring plenty of investment for staff training, will have turned that forecast upside down, and time will continue to fly.
That’s modern business in this sector, and it’s our response to this that sees us continue to grow and retain clients and staff alike. Sitting in this industry and simply following ‘the forecast’ is a recipe for disaster.
That’s why I love coming to work in a morning.
Steve Brown – MD