Effective managers are aware of the 80 : 20 rule in relation to a number of aspects of running a business, for example:
- 80% of revenue is generated by the top 20% of the sales team - 80% of profitability is generated by focusing on 20% of key activities
The same applies to major projects – for projects to be successful, 80% of the effort must be put into the planning. Only 20% is down to the implementation. Last week we were called in by a restaurant that had an emergency – they had asked a refrigeration company to install a cold room to facilitate their growth and make life easier for their kitchen staff. Unfortunately when we arrived the cold room was partially built and the refrigeration company had gone AWOL (or in this climate probably up the wall) as they were nowhere to be seen. We immediately noted a number of problems, including:
- The floor was not level
This meant that:
o it was impossible for the panels to fit securely together, o without an airtight seal the refrigeration unit would not operate effectively, o the food would not be maintained at the optimum temperature, and o running costs would escalate.
- There was exposed electrical cable in the room
I don’t need to spell out the risks here!
- The refrigeration unit selected to fit in the cold room in the room was not appropriate for the produce that was to be stored
This meant that:
o the food would not be maintained at the correct temperature (and would go off quickly), and o there would be a regular build up of ice that would compound the problem.
Fortunately for our client we have seen these problems before and were able to rectify them BEFORE the food was stored and our client (and more importantly their customers) was affected. All of the above could have been avoided if more time was spent at the planning stage:
- Talking to the client to ascertain their objectives - Determining the appropriate equipment required to meet the objectives - Considering whether the requisite skills set exists in house or if better to outsource - Being realistic about the costs and pricing - Agreeing a suitable timetable to ensure that the project is undertaken from start to finish - Communicating with the client throughout the process.
Like many areas in life when you put it down on paper, it seems obvious. The problem is that not everyone does, and it often ends up costing someone a lot of money, or even worse than that...