In "unprecedented" times cashflow is more important than ever. Cashflow Plus can dramatically improve your cashflow process; resulting in increased capital to continue investment in growth, or simply to ensure the continued survival of your business. We asked our Founding Director Steve Harvey to explain more about how it works and how it came about…
One of the many frustrations I experienced in decades as a practicing commercial lawyer was being repeatedly asked to draft commercial terms and conditions which I knew would probably end up ‘filed’ away in a top drawer to gather dust. While my efforts weren’t recognised at the time, it gave me some comfort that those terms - drafted to facilitate better cashflow and contractual certainty - would come into their own further down the line in the event of a client failing to pay.
In my experience, that’s how most clients use their legal professional. Rather than approach a problem in a root and branch manner, the identify specific aspects of a process and apply expertise without ever looking at the whole.
It’s probably no surprise therefore that one of the things that we set out to achieve with The Uncommon Practice was an integrated multi-discipline professional services approach to issues like cashflow. Rather than looking at a problem from the perspective of a lawyer or accountant, we came at it with the objective problem-solving eye of integrated professional services experts.
The whole process of getting your cashflow right - especially when it comes to contracting with customers - stems from the work that's put in right at the beginning.
Understanding your market, the research and development you do, the market intelligence you generate and the innovation it leads to. That feeds into the business strategy, which documents your understanding of the market opportunity, the competitor set, your customer profile and how your products and services are put together and taken to market.
Your business strategy works side by side with an implementation plan, which focuses on things like the structure of the business, workflow processes, resource management and how to automate as much of the sales funnel as possible.
The strategy - and the plan that accompanies it - are then critical to the way in which your sales team operates….
Most companies have a sales funnel, which needs management. It needs clear leadership to avoid the wrong type of sales, and it needs the sales staff to be engaged, with the appropriate key performance indicators in place to measure their performance.
And the way that team is organised in your business is absolutely critical to the success you’ll have with your cashflow improvement program.
Why? Because the efforts of any sales team should culminate in…sales! And those sales more often than not result in a contract being drafted between you and this new customer, which takes us back how you're using your legal advisors and ultimately to whether or not you have something appropriate to fall back on further down the line in the event of that client failing to pay…
So you can see - once you start seeing your cashflow process as a professional services challenge rather than a legal problem - the Management Consultant is a critical part of setting the whole process up to run smoothly from the get-go.
For the Finance expert it's not just about monitoring and reporting the cash-flow. They take the insight on price elasticity from your market review; look at the costs from the implementation plan and makes the recommendation on price for your product or service. Getting that recommendation right goes a long way towards the success that your sales team will have in negotiations, as well as ensuring the ongoing profitability of the business. Then they constantly review competitor pricing (where known), raw materials and currency fluctuations (where required) as well as the ever-increasing cost of labour; and feed back in a virtuous loop of ongoing market insight and iterative commercial improvement.
The finance expert is a super hero in brown loafers – make no mistake.
Once any sale is finalised and the product or service is delivered, the process moves on to the production of an invoice and Finance expert is on more familiar ground, overseeing Credit Control and ultimately perhaps Debt Recovery, (if the debt remains outstanding and anyone remembers the whereabouts of the signed terms I drafted).
Very often when we talk about automation within a business it's in relation to the delivery phase. But once you start thinking in terms of integrating your professional services providers you can see how there might be a role for automation in your planning process and how your sales funnel should be automated to the extent that it can be. It’s easy to see that the delivery of contracts and the incorporation of terms and conditions could - and in most cases should - be automated; and automating invoicing and debt management would be immediately and unquestionably beneficial.
But then you’re going to need an IT Expert to make all that automation work…
Because, having recognised the need for them all, you go ahead and approach an IT expert independent of their Legal professional, who in turn is independent of the Finance expert, who doesn’t even know the Management Consultant...
The constant project management needed across the various professional advisors is hugely time consuming, costly and unsustainable. You get frustrated with Professional Services as a whole, the guidance is contrary, confusing and ultimately counter-productive and inevitably something falls between the gaps of the advice being given with potentially serious commercial implications.
In short, you're into a lifetime of herding cats...
The Uncommon Practice offers co-ordinated professional services support. That’s fully integrated, specialist expertise; tailored to your needs; working seamlessly together to drive exponential business growth.
Our fully customisable suite of professional services products includes Cashflow Plus; a root and branch review of the whole of your cashflow process; involving all of the relevant subject matter experts, curated and co-ordinated by us to deliver a cohesive and coherent optimisation plan , tailored for the specific needs of your business.
To find out more about Cashflow Plus or to discover how co-ordinated professional services support could save you time and money, get in touch today.