In the previous post of our seven-part blog series on practice management, we discussed the importance of making sure that the right tasks are assigned to the right people. At the core of this idea is finding people in your practice, or even outside of it, who have the readiness—the will, skill and time—to carry out the necessary assignments. But what comes next, after the tasks have been completed?
After all the proverbial “i’s” have been dotted and “t’s” crossed, it’s time to start taking a good, hard look at whether your efforts have been effective. While taking stock of what the results coming in mean, think back to our previous discussion about strategies, tactics and tasks. When you’re evaluating at this stage, tying strategies to a measurable result–a key performance indicator (KPI)–will help to clarify the new incoming data.
So, what is your KPI? Here’s an example: If you set out to implement a new referral engagement strategy, the KPI, or the metric you want to have moved, is the number of new clients you acquired. While there are likely to be lots of numbers coming in after you’ve started implementing tasks, your KPI is the ultimate sign of whether or not you’re hitting the mark. For each strategy that you laid out earlier in this process, you should have an associated KPI, for example, “net new assets,” “increased revenue per employee” or “profit per employee.”
In a situation where your tactics and tasks didn’t move your KPI, you need to understand why that’s the case. Continuing with our example with a KPI of “new clients acquired,” look at the underlying indicators. To bring on a new client, one subfactor is whether your existing clientele is willing to make referrals to your practice. A client who’s pleased will be more willing to make a referral, but if you’re failing to serve them well, they’re unlikely to pass on your name. If they aren’t completely happy with their experience, it could lead them to believe that your practice doesn’t have the capacity to take on new clients and serve everyone effectively.
It is important to remember that it is very valuable to capture validated learnings even if you are not achieving a specific KPI or goal. Instead of becoming discouraged that you executed the tasks but you didn’t receive the desired results, focus instead on what you learned–what happened, how, and why–and try and discover what in your process broke or what assumptions you made that turned out to be false. Even if you execute on strategies and tasks that did not work out as you had hoped, you are still able to learn very important lessons about your practice that you might not otherwise have uncovered.
Key learnings are very valuable because you might find that you assigned the task to someone you thought had the will, skill and time but, in reality, that person may not have had one or more of those attributes. Maybe the goal you had had and the tasks assigned were unrealistic. Maybe factors out of your control held you back from achieving your goal. Maybe the goal you had was the wrong goal in the first place. For example, if you’re not meeting your KPI of bringing in new clients, you might have to reconsider whether that should actually be your goal. Instead, the goal might be improving your service model to a point where clients are happy to make referrals.
On a brighter note, you might find that you are actually driving the KPIs in the right direction. In that case, by all means, give yourself and your team a pat on the back. But while you’re celebrating, don’t take your eye off the ball. This is an ongoing process, and you’ll need to build success on success, rather than resting on your laurels.
Attentive practice management demands that when things are going right, you need to start benchmarking. While you’re moving toward achieving your goals, it’s important to continually ask yourself whether things are working as well as they could.
In our next post, we’ll talk about techniques for benchmarking to make sure that you and your team are performing to the best of your and their ability.
See all the blogs in this practice management series by visiting the ActiFi Practice Management Primer home page.