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Trust the Process

Process is only a word until you’ve worked on defining it for yourself. But how does a growing agency make it work for them? Tracy Engelbrecht, Programme Director at Quazar, suggests looking inwards before adopting one of the many methodologies that already exist.

Everything worked fine when you were a small, one-man band and your to-do list, future planning, and big strategy ideas lived in your head. Somehow, you kept the balls in the air. Your small team could read your mind, you used shorthand to communicate, and things were working fine.

Now, you’ve scaled. You’ve got a team and you don’t have your eye on all the nitty gritty details like you used to. The balls in the air have only multiplied, along with the number of hands juggling them. With that, the margin for error increases, and suddenly it doesn’t feel quite like it’s working as well as it used to.

There’s a feeling of chaos creeping in. You feel it, your team feels it, maybe your clients even feel it.

Regaining control without micromanaging

The answer is process.

Boring, right?

Developing a process for “how you work” sounds like admin, a hassle that an already overworked team doesn’t need. And at first, sure, it can be. But once you’ve got that process figured out, tested, adjusted and running smoothly, everybody’s lives become easier. No more frantic 10pm calls for status updates, approvals omitted, or entire projects falling through the cracks.

There are a million different project management methodologies and tools, many with fancy names and equally fancy prices. You don’t necessarily need all that, especially if you’re just starting out on this road. Tools help, but they’re not the whole story. Shiny new technology will not solve all your problems – it starts with an understanding of how things work now, and a mental picture of where you want to get to.

A process for a process

People first
There is no fancy piece of tech that will solve a people problem.

Be realistic about how your team works in practice. You’ll already have an idea of where things are slipping – start there and figure out how all the pieces fit together from beginning to end.

No matter what process you choose, your teams will have to adapt their behaviour. This will be easier if you understand how they currently DO work, and adjust from there, rather than reinventing the wheel entirely.

And listen to their feedback! A process that is overly onerous or doesn’t make sense will be ignored. People want to understand why they’re doing something, so showcase your ideal end result.

Would this new process result in great usable data, for instance? Improved billing efficiency?

Let them know how it will help them in the end. You can’t get buy in without understanding the why.

Check your toolbox

What systems or tools do you already have in place and, more importantly, are they being used properly?

Before investing in anything new, take a good look at what you’ve got. If you’re having to resort to workarounds half the time, it’s time for a change. If all it would take is people actually using existing tools – that’s where you start.

With many teams working remotely, sometimes all it takes is improved communication: do you need a daily or weekly standing check-in meeting? Do you need better integration between your task management and billing systems?

Before you sign up for project management tools or software, have an analogue version of the components and steps you need clear in your mind.

Dial a nerd

Implementing this new process doesn’t happen by itself. You need someone with an in-depth understanding of your team’s inner workings, as well as a clear picture of where you want to get to, to champion your “new way of working”.

That person is probably not you.

You’ll need someone to introduce the process, socialise it with your teams, check that they are sticking to it, and keep track of the end result. That role won’t be needed forever, but it’s essential in the beginning.

Tweak it

Once you’re up and running, there will be bumps in the road. You’ll discover steps you’d forgotten. You’ll realise that there are some clients that have “special circumstances” and need to be handled differently.

Don’t be afraid to revisit things.

Add steps, remove steps, reassign steps. Make the system work for you, not the other way around.

Just do it

At some point, you’re past the growing pains stage, and your process should be second nature. There should no longer be pushback and it becomes non-negotiable.

As long as you’ve taken feedback and the realities of people’s work into consideration along the way, this shouldn’t be a problem. It won’t be “that new way” anymore, it will just be “our way”.

INN8 white
The client, part of South Africa’s largest financial institution, realised that it was not a platform destination of choice for the IFA market in SA. In an effort to address this valuable market and to futureproof their business they undertook to build a new investment platform. With this platform they needed to gain clarity and certainty on the appropriate brand and positioning to penetrate a highly competitive market and grow market share quickly.
Process 
We undertook a comprehensive global and local audit and research program, talking to current users of the brand as well as the target market IFAs. We looked at global trends and analysed behaviour across 3 markets. We spoke to competitors, partners and staff and then we made a recommendation. Created a new independent brand focused only on the IFA. Becoming the one thing an IFA really needed – a partner in their corner with no agenda other than to enable and facilitate their growth which would ultimately result in the platform growth.
Outcome
INN8 a fintech investment platform brand “Changing the way investments are done in South Africa by becoming “The Adviser’s Partner.” We created the brand and developed its narrative and we launched it into a very tough closed market. To this day, we’re still punching above our weight and getting above industry average engagement across all our touch points.