This informal CPD article on Stepping away from the detail and carrying out a review of your business operation was provided by Kerry Chown from BulliesOut, a charity working to prevent and address bullying behaviour.
Are you working on the business or in it?
As a Board member of BulliesOut and a business owner, I hear this expression regularly. It’s very easy to get ‘stuck in’ doing work for clients and service users without thinking of the big picture. Many people spend all their time ‘doing the job’.
When carrying out a review of your charity or business, there are several topics for consideration. The following three, however, are key:
- Is the strategy still relevant?
- Are we living our values?
- How can we assess the service we provide to our ‘customers’ and do we need to change how we operate?
Generally, charities will have a growth strategy. There are always more people out there that we can help. Even so, the external environment changes all the time. A SWOT analysis can be valuable in reviewing the charity’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. For many organisations, getting funding will be the big challenge. Having people on the Board who have expertise in this area will be really valuable.
To do a business review, you need data, and lots of it! Think about the data you have available to run your charity or business. Having good data makes the whole review more evidence based. It’s one thing though having lots of spreadsheets, but another, entirely, making sense of them all.
Something I’ve used to good effect, is to get together with some great colleagues who can challenge our thinking. Sometimes we can get too close to things and having external challenge is a good thing, though it can sometimes be uncomfortable when people tell you something you don’t want to hear. Do you have the data you need to manage your business? If you are not sure, it’s worth finding out. Also, if you don’t have a trusted adviser who can be honest with you, it’s worth doing something about that. Even if you have a healthy number of Trustees on the Board, having an external source of challenge will be an asset.
Living the values
One of our values is: Excellence:
Evaluating the effectiveness of what the business does is important if you want to perform well and ensure you are meeting service users’ needs. Running a survey or asking people at an event shows the values are more than something collecting dust on the shelf.
Don’t forget the performance of the Board of Trustees too. Having a Board appraisal process in place, enables you to review skills and behaviours and to identify areas where you can improve over the coming year. This shows you are serious about your values.
It’s no good asking for feedback and getting some though. Make sure you incorporate the findings in your action plan for the development of the charity.
The service user dimension
It’s a true saying that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. What do your service users think of the service they are receiving. Hopefully, as a charity, you are giving very valuable service to those who really need it. However, it’s good to ask those who benefit from your services, for their views on where you provide a strong offer and where you could improve even further. It’s always a mistake to assume you know.
Another area where you can improve is to have service users on your Board of Trustees. They can have a valuable role in influencing the objectives of the charity, so the organisation is continuing to respond to need, despite the ongoing changes in the external environment.
We hope this article was helpful. For more information from BulliesOut, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.