The team had been decimated by personnel losses. The director and half of the remaining employees had left the department. Those who stayed were highly competitive with each other and defensive about perceived slights from the rest of the organization, which was impeding their productivity to a significant degree. AGS was brought in to assess the situation and recommend a turnaround strategy for increasing efficiency and improving team morale.
Seeking to Understand
We held an off-site with the existing team and interim leadership to establish a baseline of each member’s strengths and opportunities for improvement as well as a list of the team’s top priorities. We met with their internal clients to gather their top priorities for this team, then brainstormed with the team members on ways to align theirs and their clients’ priorities and ways to improve working relationships within and outside of the team.
Empowering The Team
The number one issue for the team was feeling disempowered. They would make recommendations to their internal clients but could not secure contracts under their own authority. Rather, their clients had to have final authority, which often meant delayed contract process with increased prices or unavailable vendors. A conservative estimate was $100K in increased prices and lost opportunity costs during a four-month period due to this process. Not scalable.
Involving The Internal Clients. We met with the internal clients to reconfigure the recommendation process for efficiency while maintaining inclusion. The team offered presentations with all recommendations earlier than they had before and agreed to a “drop date.” If their client had not weighed in on the presentation by that date, the team member would move forward with the recommended contract.
Within a few months, internal clients were working collaboratively with the team and trusting their recommendations, which led to a more streamlined planning process. As empowered decision-makers, associates built better relationships with outside vendors and their internal clients. Employees leveraged those vendor relationships to secure better pricing, with an overall annual savings of 5% compared to the year prior. Further, increasing individual responsibility diffused tensions within the team, and they worked more collaboratively. With the improved team functionality, leadership brought three more hires on board within a year, all of whom were retained past the one-year hire mark.
A client in the events industry needed to provide potential investors with the ROI on a per-event basis. Under their current finance system, that was not possible. Two drivers produced this situation: 1) They had a new CFO and Comptroller who received no knowledge transfer from the departing team. 2) Finance was understaffed and lacking the necessary technology to integrate with the rest of the company’s platforms.
When to build a workaround
The executive sponsor made it clear that there was no budget for a new technology solution at the time. AGS had to work with the platforms in place but create a workaround that would meet immediate reporting needs and be able to integrate with finance as they replaced their existing platforms/processes in future.
Engaging the Stakeholders
We worked with the finance team to develop a new Chart of Accounts, one that would provide the drill-down capability they needed. We identified Salesforce as the best existing platform for their needs and worked with the SF administrator to create a customized system to track all the budget and cost data for individual events through their existing SF campaigns. By using a clear communication strategy, soft rollouts and training that included ongoing support, they had 100% adoption.
Investors had the data they needed historically, and the process is now in place for creating future budgets and forecasts based on the built system. Further, employees have the capability not only to manage each event budget they are responsible for but also to enter estimated costs, offering invaluable intel for future decision making. And the finance team now has all of the data in one platform that can be easily integrated with numerous BI tools in the future.