by Chris Moore
Current Situation: A national non-profit receives news that one of their largest financial contributors is changing direction, and as a result they will no longer be a financial donor. The end result is that revenue will decline by 20% for the following year. The remaining revenue is fee-for-service and the organization has a few months to expand operations and make up for the lost revenue.
Strategy: A logical plan was presented to the Board that reflected an increase of new customers to accommodate the lost revenue. The team felt confident that existing staff could absorb the additional work load and address the revenue shortage within six months. The plan was presented to the Board for approval.
The Discussion: An engaging discussion ensued after several questions were asked, “How do you plan on quickly increasing sales? Who are your prospects? Who is responsible for sales and what are their monthly goals? Are the operations of the business scalable to support such rapid growth? What is the utilization rates of exiting human resources and what are the FTE requirements by subject matter expertise to onboard new work? What are the human resource variances of the proposed new organization as compared to the current state? Are expenses well controlled to allow for hiring ahead of the revenue curve? And if not, what is the finance strategy? And most importantly, what does the Business Intelligence Dashboard say about leading key performance indicators of success?”
The Challenge: Leadership realized quickly that they weren’t prepared to fully answer these questions, and their non-profit needed to act very differently in a 100% fee-for-service model. Before, any financial or service shortcomings were addressed by pulling funds from their financial donor. Now, they have to ensure that 100% of fee-for-service revenue exceeded expenses.
Hypothesis: Before the non-profit was in a position to expand operations, it needed to answer the questions outlined above. In short, it needed to know:
- How staff time was being allocated in relation to budget (this meant it needed to create a staff configuration plan for all employees).
- What customers were saying about their service in real time (not at the end of the year).
- Was its service model functioning as intended from the perspective of all constituent groups?
Solution: IES was selected to create a comprehensive BID to answer these questions so management could adjust operations when and where necessary. The exercise resulted in 1) streamlining operations, 2) creating data so that 26 business “touchpoints” could be realized, 3) and more closely managing fee-for-service revenue and expenses.
Outcome: Two critical outcomes resulted. First, the non-profit quickly adapted its operations to work within fee-for-service revenue without dramatically impacting staff. They worked smarter with greater productivity. The second outcome was that the organization was positioned, vie the BID, to scale operations and at any given point in time, ensure that growth was nimble, agile and that any problems were quickly identified and managed.