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The value of project management

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Roderic Renison

Roderic Rennison, Director, The Ideas Lab

The pressure of multi-tasking is one reason that obtaining external assistance is not just a good idea, it will become essential for many businesses if they are to survive. The clash of priorities at the tax year end with exam dates puts the spotlight on this issue.

Having non-integrated plans is a recipe for more clashes. Many advisers have never used a GANTT chart but this is the time to do it. A GANNT chart produces multiple time lines and illustrates interdependencies allowing you to avoid clashes and recognise that some tasks are dependent on others being completed first.

Personally, I use project management software called Project Kickstart - its low-cost and intuitive, an unbeatable combination.

You can also use it to build processes, which will be the DNA of any RDR-ready business.

These clashes will undoubtedly increase as we head toward the December 31, 2012 deadline. It is also important that no current activity or process is seen as sacrosanct.

The RDR-proof business needs to be built from the bottom up. Doing this now is hard, telling employers that they need to pay fees for intermediaries providing services on GPPS when we still have providers paying commission (admittedly on a declining level) and major employee benefit firms that have moved to a fee offset model that it has a limited shelf life.

That is a major challenge that is changing when so many others are deferring the inevitable. It also important to recognise that relying on others comments in the media is not the way to set a stable strategy. The away day is essential, as is the participation of all the team but that is just half of the task. Implementing the action points on time and as agreed will build on the day. Letting this part slip wipes the day from
the diary.

Involving your clients in your journey is very important. It can reveal to you points that you miss when all discussions are internal. While it is important to involve the team, this does not mean that you should ignore or not seek external comment. Looking at websites is a good place to start - does it tell people what you will do for them or what you will do? Does it explain who will fit the client profile and who will not?

The recent paper on ethics and competence from the FSA underlines the fact that competence for senior staff is still on the radar and that too needs to be factored into a company’s plans

Before you can do this, you need to have decided your core proposition(s) and segmented your client base. Now be ready for the fact that not all clients will fit and that may make you tweak your proposition but take care, too much tweaking will take you back to square one.

For those of you reading this who are waiting for a major shift in direction by the FSA, take our advice, don’t wait, there will be no major change.

The biggest asset is time - use it, don’t lose it.

It is important that this change is seen as a benefit and not as an imposition. I still detect the latter in this diary entry which is unfortunate.

Irrespective of RDR, this business and others like it needed to change. To think otherwise would certainly earn the title of “New Muddle Adviser”.

Finally, external feedback and or advice/support we believe will become more important as the deadline looms. The recent paper on ethics and competence from the FSA underlines the fact that competence for senior staff is still on the radar and that too needs to be factored into your plans.

Having recognised the need to remainfocused you have conquered the danger of seeing change like flicking a light switch.

Those who do will end up in darkness.

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