How to power a cost-conscious culture in firms

Team discussion in boardroom
John Smith Blue Vision By John Smith, Technical Director, Vision Blue Solutions

5 April 2018

John Smith, Technical Director at Vision Blue Solutions, outlines the key considerations insolvency practitioners need to think about when improving inefficient processes.

This is a testing period for insolvency practitioners; available fees are diminishing as creditors' involvement intensifies and assets are subject to even more charges. It’s during these times when practitioner’s must look to not only cut costs but to do so in a manner that doesn’t have a negative impact on revenue. From working with insolvency practitioners, we have found that they can cut down on costs by working more efficiently.

Achieving efficiencies does not happen overnight. It takes time to put the foundations in place to allow a practice to increase productivity and business performance levels. Steve Jobs once said: “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

No two practices are the same

Spotting inefficient processes is not always easy. It requires us to take a step back and view our process from an outsiders’ perspective.

Something that I’ve been guilty of myself is thinking that I’m too busy to take that step back. The reason for taking a step back is to consider ideas that would decrease time on administrative tasks and increase levels of productivity. How could I be too busy to at least think about that?

Out-of-the-box, a case management solution (CMS) is a tool that can help a practice achieve efficiencies. However, it must be remembered that no two practices, large or small, will process cases in the exact same way. A regular mistake is taking the CMS at its ‘out-of-the-box’ state and determining that it is not the right fit. A second mistake is not taking the time to review and understand how to amend the CMS to meet with the practice’s processes.

Improve the experience

We sometimes hear that a practice “is not getting the most out of the system”. Often, this can be attributed to the CMS provider being viewed, simply as an IT software provider and not a trusted partner. I believe that CMS providers must always look to improve each clients’ experience of their system. To do so, an open channel of communication between client and provider must be sustained. This ensures that resolutions to pain points can be found, whether that be through existing functionality or new enhancements.

Investing time and resources to tailor your needs will result in your practice achieving efficiencies and reducing costs.

These pain points can be as straightforward as; diary lines not appearing in line with a practice’s requirements, documents not being formatted to the company’s standards and core brand values, reports not meeting with the firms KPI’s. Speaking from the viewpoint of a provider with many years’ experience in supplying solutions to the insolvency industry, we enjoy nothing more than working with a customer to try and solve these areas of pain.

What we cannot do however is fix something we do not know about. Having a customer, who has made the time to take a step back, think about their process and problem and then provide us with their initial thoughts and requirements is invaluable. From there, we can plan and develop a solution together.

Make it simple

A new customer has two options when engaging with an ‘off-the-shelf’ solution. The first is to hope that the standard solution will fulfil your requirements. The second is to take the standard and look for ways to tailor it so that it works for your specific needs with respect to your diaries, your documents and your KPI reports.

I’m not declaring that settling for an out-of-the-box solution will always decrease productivity but it is comparable to buying a Ferrari and driving it like a Fiesta – you’re just not getting your money’s worth. The tragedy of this approach is that efficiencies that are within a practice’s reach are never attained. Fortunately, it’s never too late to take that step back and begin to lay the foundations.

As Steve Jobs said: "You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple". Investing time and resources to tailor your CMS to your needs will result in your practice achieving efficiencies and reducing costs – allowing you to go forth and move mountains.

About the author

John Smith worked in practice for 12 years prior to joining Vision Blue Solutions in 2009. As Technical Director at Vision Blue Solutions, John is involved in ensuring efficiencies are achieved throughout standard functionalities as well as customer specific adaptations to documents and diaries.

This blog is one of a series of articles from our commercial partners.
The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of ICAS.

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