Think back, if you can, to a time which seemed ‘normal’. A time when the phone was ringing off the hook, we were rushing around trying to attend conferences and in-person meetings. During these times, we always had a ‘best intentions list’ of things we really wished we had the time to do, we knew it would be good for us and also our business if we could complete them, but they were not tasks that were screaming loudly to be done ‘today’.
Now that some of the more attention-grabbing activities have decreased, we have a bit more time to focus on a bit of business housekeeping. This might not sound too glamorous but the benefits are clear: once the pace picks-up again the businesses who used this time to review their processes, their policies, their company documentation will be more efficient and better positioned to seize new opportunities, and avoid making costly mistakes.
So, what, are we recommending our clients look at from a legal ‘housekeeping’ perspective?
- Governance review. The boards of well-managed, high growth businesses align resources to achieve the goals that it sets – be that growth in revenue, EBIT, market share or any other metric. They also have mechanisms in place to make sure the obstacles to achieving their goals are identified and removed. Culture and communication are the keys to alignment, but you need policies to protect the business from both internal and external threats to protect the business from internal or external sabotage. Making sure that you have a clear risk policy that flows into human resource, operating and technology procedures as well as marketing and communications procedures keeps your directors and your business on the right track.
- Review standard terms of sale and purchase. You can manage most of the relationships that keep your business moving by just one standard terms of sale (for your clients) and one standard terms of purchase (for your suppliers). These set-and-forget, one-size-fits-most contractual documents should be integrated into your proposal templates and your purchase order system. So every time a client sends you that acceptance or a supplier delivers you the materials you need, the business is protected against clients expecting your team to do more than they budgeted for or suppliers selling you sub-standard materials. These need to be reviewed at least every three years to make sure that they still reflect your business model and to take advantage of any changes in law. Does your business sell only products? Or have you built a service offering alongside your products? If so, what happens when your customer changes the scope of the work? Are your suppliers accountable for delivering to time, quantity and quality? What happens if they don’t? And what happens if your customer or supply goes into insolvency? These are just some of the risks that you want your business to be protected from.
- Employment contract review. For many businesses, the last time they would have reviewed their employment contracts would have been in 2010 after the introduction of the Fair Work Act. Over the past couple of months there have been big changes to the way people work and how they are expected to work. It is likely that most existing employment contracts require some updating to reflect the times in which we now live. Businesses that do not take this into account leave themselves vulnerable to HR issues. Key issues to update include how leave is calculated (particularly for part-time and shift workers), whether to use hourly rates or annualised wages as well as how your employment contract fits with EBAs, awards and other applicable industrial instruments. You also want to specify the behaviours that are not acceptable as part of your business- and what you can do about them.
- Training. Investing in people during this uncertain time with truly meaningful and useful training opportunities will help to keep your workforce up to speed, keep them engaged and remind them that they are part of something bigger than their laptop on the kitchen table might indicate. We recently ran bespoke training for our clients on contracts, taking them from business entities, to contract fundamentals before a hands-on workshop on how to administer complex contracts. We can deliver training workshops using best adult learning principles and designed to meet the needs of your workforce in a number of areas. Some of the workshops we have delivered include using the Personal Property Security Register to make sure your customers pay, contract administration in infrastructure projects and how to manage conflict and disputes in complex projects.
- One more thing…if you have customers who just aren’t paying for valuable services or products that your team has delivered, you may have more avenues available to you than just writing letters that never get a response. As specialists in the infrastructure, industrial and technical sectors, you might be surprised at the results we have achieved where others have failed.
If you would like any assistance with these tasks, or have any questions, please get in touch and we would be happy to talk through your options.