Alexis S. Becker
MAXIS helps attain your best possible results
Whether owning the business or running it, the success of the organization is dependent on the decisions you make. Regardless of the level of complexity, making the right choice can be stressful, particularly when it could compromise integrity or profitability. A study by Harvard Business Review reported, “In a ten-year longitudinal study of more than 2,700 leaders, 57% percent of newly appointed executives said that decisions were more complicated and difficult than they expected.” To complicate matters, in a recent survey, Gartner found that 65% of decisions made are more complex (involving more stakeholders or choices) than they were two years ago.
Why are decisions so difficult to make and how can we ensure we arrive at the most beneficial outcome?
Strategic Decision Making: The Struggle Is Real
We all struggle to make day-to-day decisions, from what to wear to which milk to purchase to where to eat. Business decisions should be seemingly less stressful because they present fewer options. Yet even when confronted with only a handful of choices, experienced leaders can still experience anxiety when considering the ramifications of selecting the wrong one. Avoidance is not a strategy. Neither is selecting the ‘safer’ option. And dodging difficult decisions is never a viable option. So where does that leave them?
Some decision-makers prefer to play it safer, using the certainty of picking one of only two options. The consequence, in their mind, is that they only made the wrong choice between the two. They don’t consider the fallout from the decision that follows. Even understanding the responsibilities of their role, some leaders still try to shortcut how they formulate a rationale for their decisions, like flipping a coin. In one instance, a client made a decision based upon where the second hand was when he consulted the clock — if it was between 12 and 6, one decision was made. If it landed between 6 and 12, the opposite choice was selected.
These “systems” may seem absurd to you and me. But to those who need a softer landing, the “lesser of two evils” approach may be less reliable but considerably safer. Regardless of the complexities involved in coming to a conclusion, not making a decision, not making one on time, or making one based on incorrect information can be detrimental to the organization.
In situations where a calculated outcome is critical for the business, it is possible for leaders to better evaluate their choices and select the best option. And fortunately, taking the guesswork out of the equation has become easier.
Hey, Nineteen: A Strategic Decision Making Framework
Three For Three: Steps to More Strategic Business Decisions
1. Business Process Assessment (one-time event) Our team works with yours to complete an analysis of all end-to-end processes, a review of the current status of systems to ensure you have the right technology in place, and identification of roles and responsibilities. Once we have determined the scope of your internal resources and identified menial and repetitive back-office tasks that should be automated — and where accounting staff can be more beneficial to your organization — we collectively develop a custom plan to be driven by and toward your immediate and future financial and operational goals. This is another element of the process that is, for the most part, self-sustainable.
Custom deliverables will include a process map by cycle, establishment of business key business performance indicators (KPIs), a responsibility matrix, and creating a schedule for reporting needs to pave your path forward. This cost-effective and efficient assessment is conducted for a one-time fee and takes approximately four weeks* to complete.
2. Tangible Implementation (one-time event)
System configurations and applications are designed, integrated, and implemented for the organization’s immediate use. A project plan aligns to phase in the transition of responsibilities and system usage. Process maps are adapted as needed if/when changes are identified from the assessment phase. At the onset, a parallel process is run in conjunction with the current process to ensure the most granular details and nuances are captured in the future process.
Service level expectations and transactional KPIs are identified and documented. Reporting needs and dashboard designs are met and information is properly flowing for reporting. Custom reports are designed to extract information specific to the organization. The implementation takes about four to six weeks* and is completed with a one-time fee.
3. Deployment (ongoing)
Once deployed, the processes and responsibilities are functioning as designed. Accurate and timely financial information is easily extracted and specific data highlighted. Methodical, custom reports are packaged to make sense of content and highlight significant and actionable insights.
Full deployment includes recurring monthly services and agreed-upon deliverables, such as monthly financials, balanced scorecard, transactional KPI reporting, etc. Routine service level reviews occur and adjustments are made where necessary as changes to the business dictate.
Real or near-real-time reporting enables data-driven operational decisions by providing insights. The ongoing services are designed with an agreed-upon recurring monthly fee.
Making Strategic Business Decisions: Good, Not Easy
The one tried-and-true method that is most effective in every model for successful decision making, is the inclusion of the “power of partnership” — the ability to rely on a trusted advisor, like Freed Maxick, to help muddle through the noise, make sense of the situation, and serve as the “voice of reason.”
Changing processes and behaviors is challenging, to say the very least. The growing pains of implementing a new system, the learning-curve frustration associated with training, and the overall trust and comfort in the operation take time. Having a partner in the process eases the pressure and creates for more accountability all around.
In a partnership with MAXIS, which supports the executive wearing the many hats of the role — HR, marketing, IT, admin, sales, operations, etc., the professionals at Freed Maxick serve as the decision maker’s reliable and trustworthy finance and accounting partner. With this service, silos are broken down and collaboration occurs with consistency and certainty. Decisions are arrived at with clarity with the addition of diverse perspectives and expertise to inform decisions.
“Decisions should be a trusted, reliable core capability for every organization and its people. Without making effective and efficient decisions, the organization is adrift, or blind to changes in market conditions, customer perceptions and citizen behaviors,” affirms Gartner.