Karl Jones

I struggled as I tried to enter invoices into the check writing system. My typing skills were poor and I didn’t have a familiar process for entering the invoice details. It had taken me an hour to enter just a handful of invoices and I had many more to do.

I had no one but myself to blame for this predicament. It was no surprise when the vacancy in the accounts payable office occurred. I failed to apply a lesson learned many years earlier.

I had learned that changes are going to happen and that they would occur without warning. Having a plan could help me better weather the change.

When you identify all the influencers for a company you will see many. Some of these influencers include staff, suppliers/contractors, management, market and technology. None of these are as stable as you expect. Most likely at least one is in flux but it is not uncommon to have a couple going on at the same time. So what is the solution?

Develop a "what if" plan so when a change occurs you’ve already put some thought and wheels into motion to help with your response. Start planning by identifying key staff that you need to sustain your business. I learned to be on the lookout for qualified people who could possibly be good hires. When I met someone I put them on my short list of possible employees.

Look at your customers and suppliers. Ask yourself, are there one or two that could severely degrade your business if you lose them?

The next step is to figure out what you should do if one of those changes were to occur. The people piece can include staff on-hand and the training required to bring someone up to speed so they are familiar with other key duties. Diversifying your customer base and suppliers may warrant some evaluation.

There is always an excuse not to plan. However, avoidance is not a solution. Change is going to happen. Take time every week and start putting together your “what-if plan." Planning doesn’t have to be hard. Don’t strive for perfection. You can make progress by spending 15 minutes once a week.

Changes are going to happen. Good employees leave for many reasons. Many of those reasons are beyond your control.

Finally, we were able to hire someone who was very well suited for the accounts payable position. I started working immediately on my short list.

Karl Jones is a principal for Organizational Insight, where he helps managers to gain commitment. Find more information at orginsightmt.com, on Facebook at OrganizationalInsight or on Twitter at KarlJones9.

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