Being Business Forward Prepared Us For This Pandemic
When we started Spur we knew we wanted to be nimble as a business. We wanted to be out from underneath the burden of being outdated, of having to upgrade, of owning stuff that was no longer valuable. At the time this meant owning as little as possible and putting everything we could in the cloud. Little did we know this would position us to be ready to handle the need to work remotely so quickly and seamlessly.
Here are some of the operating principles that have allowed us to transition quickly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the legal requirements of our government leaders:
- Standardize equipment and service - all laptops are the same make model and have the same image. This has several advantages; 1. It makes trouble shooting and repair much more efficient for our IT folks, including if a laptop has a catastrophic failure, we can swamp in a new machine that same day that is ready to go for the employee. 2. All phone service is the same and we purchase mobile hotspots with the service, so our folks have internet even if they have trouble with their home service. 3. All office workstations are set up for hoteling. We operate an open office concept that allows anyone to sit anywhere on any day. This set is made up of free-standing monitors and cables for power and connecting to laptops. We don’t use docking stations, and this saves us hardware costs when we get new machines. If we need to make changes, it’s only to cables. This also makes it simple to quickly disassemble and have people “checkout” equipment for use outside the office. Which we did with extreme efficiency when we chose to have our people work remotely. IT created a checklist and people simply checkout monitors, mice and even our office chairs as needed.
- Own as little as possible and outsource as much as you can – the promise of the cloud is finally a reality that businesses can rely on. We chose oh so many years ago not to own servers and computers, but rather lease hardware and utilize cloud services. We also chose not to have in house IT positions. This has allowed us to flex our support as needed without the time and cost of recruiting, hiring and onboarding.
- Put as much of compensation in incentive pay as you can – a compensation package that flexes with revenue/profitability helps you survive downturns in the economy. People appreciate a job and a steady income and understand that if the company has revenue, we can achieve our incentive pay and when the revenue isn’t there we might miss the incentive pay. As a consulting services firm that largely means a billable utilization target. It’s easy math and logic. If you work the allotted amount for your bonus, you get your bonus. As a business owner this is a pure 1:1 relationship. If you’re fully billable you're bringing in the revenue to cover your bonus. The employee understands that if they aren’t fully billable then the money just isn’t there. Be warned, this can be a source of contention for employees that don’t yet understand the business continuity advantage of this approach. It requires constant dialog with your people to manage potential dissatisfaction.
Our approach to how we manage our business is proving to be a true competitive advantage for The Spur Group. Hopefully some of these ideas help someone overcome business challenges and put a more stable operation in place.