How Your Leadership Style Affects Company Culture - Joel Patterson

How Your Leadership Style Affects Company Culture

When you think of company culture, many things may come to mind. Of course, there are the flashier aspects of company culture (think in-office happy hours or team bowling outings). There are also more subtle elements, such as how workspaces are arranged. While these are undoubtedly parts of a company’s culture, they are not what is at the core. 

The culture of a business starts at the very top. The leadership styles of executives set the tone for a company’s internal culture. Leadership affects all aspects of business, including perceived values and goals, communication norms, and employee engagement. Let’s look at how your leadership can connect your company’s culture with the big picture.

Begin by being aligned and intentional. If you try to sell your employees on a set of standards and ideals that are not reflected in the way you lead, your company culture will be inconsistent and ineffective. Aligning your leadership style with your company’s core values is paramount.

For example, if you want your staff to sacrifice for the good of the team, you have to be out there in the trenches with them. If you want to foster open communication, you have to create an environment where employees feel that they can honestly share their thoughts. If you want a company that strives for innovation, you have to give your team the space to explore. 

Think about your company’s stated beliefs, values, and intentions. Then, consider whether the way you lead encourages behavior that aligns with those. During this exercise, don’t think about the way you want to lead think about the way you do lead on a daily basis. Consistency is vital to the success of each of your team members and your company as a whole. In short, you must practice what you preach.

After some reflection, you may realize that your company’s culture does not align with your core values. Unfortunately, creating or correcting aspects of corporate culture takes time. When making big changes, you have to take steps to make the change and give your team the reasons behind the shift.

For example, if you tell your employees that you are going to focus more on collaboration, but keep the work environment and team structures the same, you’re not going to see the results you desire. On the other hand, if you change the work environment and team structures without giving employees the reason behind the need for more collaboration, you still might not see the results you want.

Aspects of company culture are most effective when they solve a problem that employees care about. When improving your company’s culture, think about the issues that affect your staff and the solutions that could be implemented to resolve them. Then, sell this idea to your team. If they truly believe in the “why” that backs up an idea, they are more likely to get behind it.

All leaders are unique; and therefore, all companies will have different internal cultures. It’s important to create yours with your vision of the company in mind. Remember, a quality corporate culture is vital to a company’s long-term success.

Risks in Business - Joel Patterson

Risk in Business: How to Understand, Evaluate, and Utilize It

Risk is inherent in running a business. Without it, there would be no forward motion, but the results could be devastating if you take on too much. While many large corporations have extensive risk management departments, smaller companies usually don’t have the resources to allocate solely to analyzing potential risks. Even without a dedicated risk management department, small and medium-sized businesses can still take steps to understand, evaluate, and utilize risk.

There are two broad categories that almost all risks fall into external or internal. External risks are things like natural disasters, emerging market competitors, economic fluctuations, etc. In many cases, these are risks that you can’t control but can react to strategically and produce a more favorable outcome. 

On the other hand, internal risks are present within the business’s operations, so they are easier to identify and therefore prevent. Compliance risk, operational risk, financial risk, and reputational risk are all examples of internal risks. In this article, I’m going to focus on identifying and analyzing these internal risks, as well as steps that can be taken to prevent their effects.

Compliance risk refers to anything that could be affected by industry and government regulations. One common compliance risk in the U.S. is tax audits. It’s important to keep thorough documentation in case your company is audited. A cloud-based software system like NetSuite can help you keep track of all the data necessary to support an audit in one place.

Operational risk has to do with the way you run your business from day-to-day. Technological shortcomings make up a large portion of operational risks. For example, if your software systems fail to communicate with one another and cause a delay, this costs you time, money, and possibly valued customers, too.

Financial risk has to do with any funds flowing in and out of your business. These risks include things like outstanding debts (company or customer), employee fraud, risky investments, etc. Having a thorough, automated system for keeping track of your financial standing is crucial to keeping your financial risk in check.

Reputational risk has to do with anything that relates to you, your employees, and your company’s overall reputation. Poor customer service, low-quality products, or a marketing misstep can all eventually lead to reputational risk. By having data to monitor all of these areas of potential risk, you can decide which parts of your company require improvement before any bad press comes flowing in.

With all these potential risks lurking, it’s essential to have the best possible defense tools on your side. By having a comprehensive business management software system, such as NetSuite, you can gather the data necessary to identify your business risks. You can then use this to create a prevention plan and utilize safeguards that can prevent many risks from occurring as frequently.

Why You Should Consider a Digital Transformation for Your Company in 2021 - Joel Patterson

Why You Should Consider a Digital Transformation for Your Company in 2021

As with every new year, it’s important to formulate, plan, and set your business goals. Have you considered how revamping your software solutions could help you achieve those goals? Here are just a few of the reasons to consider a digital transformation for your business in 2021.

  1. Keeping Up with Yourself. Your goals most likely include some form of growth—more customers, more accounts, more revenue, new service lines or products. The systems you currently have in place might be able to handle the business you’re doing right now, but what about when you achieve your desired growth? As your company grows, your internal processes can have a hard time keeping up. Outdated processes and systems will eventually cause issues and stall the growth you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
  1. Smash Inefficiencies. It’s common for companies to use many different applications to meet all their needs. While this may seem like the fastest or most economical way at first, it can end up being unnecessarily convoluted and inefficient. A comprehensive software system can handle all of your business needs. A cloud-based system, such as NetSuite, eliminates the operational inefficiencies you’re bound to run into when working with multiple applications.
  1. Smarter Data. With NetSuite, all of your data is housed in one place and can be easily accessed. A comprehensive business management system makes it easy to get a big-picture view of every aspect of your business and how each facet is working together. Accurate, real-time insights allow you to see precisely what is working and what needs attention.
  1. Eliminate Overhead Costs. No more in-house servers or bulky equipment that needs to be replaced or repaired. Since NetSuite is a cloud-based system, it is housed off-site on high-performance, scalable servers. This off-premise infrastructure means no setup or installation on your business’s computing devices. NetSuite’s infrastructure provides a secure platform for all your business applications and substantially reduces your IT costs.
  1. Only Keep What You Need. When working with standard software systems, you might get the functionality you need, along with lots of other bells and whistles that aren’t relevant to your business. Or your current systems might do the job, but not as well as they could. NetSuite is a comprehensive, yet versatile enterprise software package. You can tailor it to fit your exact needs, keeping what helps you succeed, and leaving anything else out.

These are a few of the countless reasons why a new and improved software system could transform your company. When you have the best possible tools to work with, you will always get better results.

Start 2021 off right. Contact us to talk about how Oracle+NetSuite could benefit your business!

The Value of Continual Learning: Setting Your Employees Up for Success in the Long-Run - Joel Patterson

The Value of Continual Learning: Setting Your Employees Up for Success in the Long-Run

As a leader, you are always on the lookout for ways to improve your business. Providing and encouraging continual learning opportunities, such as classes, conferences, and seminars is a great way to invest in your company’s long-term success while benefiting your staff members. 

Here are just a few of the positive effects that professional learning can have on your employees and your business. 

Stay Relevant

In today’s fast-paced environment, best practices and industry trends are constantly shifting and changing. Continual learning keeps employees up-to-date on the latest information to keep them ahead of the industry curve. Without a continuous flow of new information, your company can get bogged down with outdated ideas and antiquated processes. To stay relevant, all employees must remain educated and informed.  

Retain Talent

The importance of retaining first-rate talent cannot be overstated, and continual learning is a great way to ensure that employees want to stay with your company. By providing employees with relevant training, conferences, and seminars, you encourage them to try out new ideas, methods, and opportunities. Supporting a learning mindset helps to keep employees interested in their work and happier in the long run. 

Engaged Employees

A 2018 study found that 85 percent of employees function below their potential and don’t feel engaged at work. If the majority of your employees are on autopilot, your business will inevitably suffer. By providing learning opportunities, you give employees the chance to explore new ideas and ways of doing things. This brings more curiosity and enthusiasm into the workplace and helps raise employee fulfillment rates and avoid widespread burnout.  

Show Your Dedication

Employees who feel undervalued or underappreciated are not likely to give 100% effort. It’s essential to show your staff that you are dedicated to their development by regularly providing self-improvement opportunities. 

Industry conferences are great for building community and helping employees explore new ideas. While in-person conferences have gone virtual, also consider online training courses or seminars that employees can participate in from their desks and home offices. Whatever opportunities you can provide is a testament to your investment in your employees.

Continuous Improvement

Just remember: whenever your employees are improving, your business is also improving. Employee education promotes success from the ground up. Your employees are the face of your company. Would you rather present a workforce that is stagnant or continually improving? The answer is clear.

Company Culture Hiring Decisions - Joel Patterson

The Role Company Culture Should Play in Your Hiring Decisions

Hiring the right employees is one of the most challenging and involved tasks companies face. When filling a position, not only do you have to find the most qualified candidate with the right background, but you are often looking to find that perfect candidate quickly.

While a sparkling resume and a smooth-sailing interview are high on the priority list, I believe the most critical factor in choosing a new hire is their “culture fit,” or how they will fit into the culture and community at your company. An aligned team will work better together, be more productive individually, and feel more satisfied in their roles overall. Making “culture fit” a top priority will produce superior results and higher employee retention rates, both of which benefit your company as a whole.

Here are a few tips on how to hire for your company’s technical needs while maintaining a harmonious company culture.

Know Yourself

The Vested Group has a company culture that my employees and I are proud of (and excited to work in!). But that didn’t just happen by chance. Your company’s culture is based on corporate values, beliefs, and an overarching mission. Your employees are the face of the company, and it’s crucial for them to be in line with your company’s purpose when interacting with clients and other employees.

If you haven’t defined your company’s values, beliefs, and mission, how will you find candidates that fit with your company’s unique culture? Your company has a culture whether you document it or not. Defining and documenting the culture of your company will bring clarity to your identity and give employees and potential employees a valuable framework.

Review Your Hiring Process

Once you’ve established what defines your company’s culture, then it’s time to review your hiring process. The traditional hiring process includes gathering resumes, screening qualified candidates, and interviewing your favorites. This process usually focuses on candidates’ experience and expertise, but how do you measure culture fit?

I start by asking interview questions that revolve around their experience and expectations in the workplace. When interviewing candidates, I ask questions about what they value in a company’s culture, how they work with others as a team, and their past relationships and experiences with clients and co-workers.

You might also consider alternatives to the traditional conference room interview. By choosing a more informal setting, such as meeting over coffee or lunch, you can get a better idea of who your candidate is as a person. Just remember, if conducting an interview over lunch isn’t in line with your company’s culture, it might send the wrong signal.

Another great way to see if someone will mesh with the rest of the team is to arrange a meet and greet. By introducing potential candidates to your staff, you can see what day-to-day interactions might be like once they’re on board. Also, your current employees then have a chance to voice their thoughts (which I’ve learned are invaluable).

Communicate Your Culture

Remember, interviews are a two-way street – you have to tell your candidates what to expect when working at your company. Our company purpose is “…best job ever…” which is our commitment to make the time our employees spend working at The Vested Group the greatest experience of their career. 

I would recommend breaking down your company’s purpose and diving into what the culture is so that potential employees can understand what to expect and what’s expected of them once they’re hired.

Good luck and happy hiring!

The Key to Successful Software Implementation - Joel Patterson, The Vested Group

The Key to Successful Software Implementation

I’ve been involved with hundreds of software implementations throughout my career. Most of them have gone off without a major hitch, but there are always bumps in the road. One of our Core Values at The Vested Group is “Appreciate that Failure is Learning,” and the obstacles faced in these projects over the years have taught me many lessons along the way. Through experience, I’ve learned a few essential elements that help ensure a successful software implementation.

1. The Right Plan

When embarking on any sizable project, it helps to have a clear-cut plan with attainable and measurable goals. Implementing a new software system is a huge undertaking for a company, and the planning stage is essential to the health of the entire project.

At The Vested Group, we take planning seriously. We encourage our clients to begin new projects with something we call Phase Zero. Phase Zero takes an average of one to two weeks to complete but can also take over a month, depending on the situation.  Each Phase Zero is conducted according to the client’s specific needs, and no two Phase Zeros are exactly the same. During this time, our consultants work with clients, giving them their undivided attention and brainpower. We begin with a project kickoff, which includes introductions, establishing goals, and determining the “why” of your project.  We identify your 3-4 signature processes, and these become the main focus where we define, prioritize, create, and review solutions custom-tailored to your business needs.  

I emphasize this stage so much because it’s crucial to the project’s success as a whole. A thorough plan helps everyone involved tackle obstacles that might come up later.

2. The Emotional Side of Software

My employees and I are “Agents of Change,” and every significant change comes with its own set of unique challenges. Unlike many other software consulting firms, The Vested Group works closely with clients to address each implementation’s emotional side.

There are unexpected twists and turns to any project, and software implementation is no different. In addition to designing and transitioning a company’s systems, we are there to support the client if they ever feel uneasy about how their project is progressing. A thorough and realistic plan of attack helps clients by giving them a blueprint to refer to in tense moments.

A client’s employees also have to adjust to new processes, sometimes after doing things the same way for many years. This learning curve can (understandably) cause a bit of panic. Because they’re not well-acquainted with the new system, employees can be resistant to learning how to make it work to their advantage. We approach this element of the client journey with empathy and understanding, and we will work with clients and their employees to show them how new systems can work in their favor, not against them.

3. What Comes After Go-Live

Imagine that your software implementation is complete. Your staff is thoroughly trained and seems to be transitioning well. You say goodbye to your implementation team, and now, you’re on your own. Maybe you still have questions on some of those lower priority punch list items.  Or now that you’ve been using your new system for a while, new questions have come up.  Perhaps there are some enhancements you’d like to make now that you are comfortable with the way everything is working.  Who can you turn to?

Nothing is more frustrating than being left to your own devices when using new, complex technology. The Vested Group offers clients a full range of post-implementation support, from troubleshooting any roadblock that pops up to executing those next-phase enhancements. When putting together your project team, make sure you choose partners who aim to form lasting relationships beyond your project end date. Cultivate a team of trusted advisors – this will help your business run smoothly and give you peace of mind.

Understanding the Role of Business Technology in Your Industry - Joel Patterson | The Vested Group

Understanding the Role of Business Technology in Your Industry

Technology is an essential element of every business. Whether it’s a single individual running a company out of their home or a multinational corporation, it’s impossible to succeed without tech. Business technology is continually changing, and it’s crucial to stay up-to-date with your industry’s standards to remain competitive. Let’s look at a few ways technology affects business success.

Improved Customer Interfacing

Keeping your customers happy is paramount to the success of your company. You want to stay current with the standards of communication within your industry. With advances in technology, you can communicate with the consumer more effectively. Technology allows customers to find help whenever they need it, not just during business hours.

Also, today’s consumers all have different preferred methods of communication. Incorporating online chat, text services, or easy-to-use apps into your business gives customers the power to access information in whichever way they are most comfortable. All of these small but effective interactions lead to higher overall rates of customer satisfaction, more word-of-mouth recommendations, and a better reputation for your business.

Flexible and Effective Workplace

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from technology in a business. More efficient systems and means of communication allow employees to work together seamlessly from different locations. If your company has multiple offices, technology makes it so teams on opposite sides of the world can still work together without issue.

Tech also makes it possible for employees to work even if they can’t be in the office, like during CoVid19. Allowing employees to work from home leads to higher employee satisfaction rates and improved work-life balance. Working with your staff to provide flexible schedules can help you to retain talent and shows employees that you care about their personal lives.

Better Overall Efficiency

Utilizing technologies that improve business processes can save you time and manpower. Some processes that were performed manually in the past can now be completed with software and AI. However, you have to beware of utilizing excessive amounts of AI when assisting your customers. Too much automation can make customers feel as though a company doesn’t care about their concerns.

Automated systems are also more accurate than manual processes, making for fewer mistakes and less time lost. Antiquated methods can drag your business down, allowing the competition to fly past you. Utilizing emerging technologies to streamline processes will enable you to allocate more resources to growth and development.

Smart Growth

My company, The Vested Group, works with businesses to create Oracle+NetSuite software solutions tailored to their business. In addition to all of the things I’ve mentioned in this article, Oracle+NetSuite also provides leaders with all of the real-time data you need to make informed decisions in one convenient location. Oracle+NetSuite is also highly scalable and customizable, making periods of high growth or transition more manageable.

Secure Operations

The right technology can keep sensitive information safe with digital security measures. Now more than ever, it’s vital that you protect your company from digital threats inside and outside of your business. Security technology allows you to control who can access what information when and from where.

Technology can feel overwhelming at times, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. The Vested Group’s team of experienced consultants can position your organization for success no matter where your comfort level with technology lies. We’d love to answer any questions you may have – reach out to me directly or take my tech assessment today!

How to Know When to Bring in a Consultant - Joel Patterson - ERP Consultant

How to Know When to Bring in a Consultant

There are many different kinds of consultants out there who can benefit your company in countless ways. Even if you’ve identified a good use case for bringing a consultant into your organization, you might be thinking, “Consultants are expensive. I don’t understand exactly what they do, and I don’t know why my company would need one.” Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Today, I’m going to give just a few of the high-level reasons why your company might benefit from an outside software consultant.

A Fresh Perspective

Sometimes when you’ve been face-to-face with an issue for too long, there’s nothing left to do but get an outside opinion. Consultants can offer a view that’s totally different than what those on the inside might bring to the table.

You are very familiar with your company’s processes, and unfortunately, this can cause you to lose perspective to a degree. A consultant will bring fresh eyes to the situation, resulting in different ideas and solutions. My consultants have worked with many companies to improve their processes, and these experiences give them the tools to provide other companies with proven solutions.

Dedicated Manpower

Perhaps you’re confident in the work that needs to be done. You’ve made a plan to improve; now, all you have to do is execute. Who is going to dedicate their time and energy to this project in a way that will ensure success?

Rather than adding to your employees’ already full workload, you can bring in a consultant who is committed solely to finding and implementing the solution that’s right for your company. While it’s tempting to take the less costly DIY route, a dedicated consultant will give you better results at a faster rate.

Bring in an Expert

While you’re likely the authority when it comes to the inner workings of your company, finding a sustainable, innovative solution will probably require an expert. Software consultants bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience to create lasting solutions that can help your bottom line.

By working with a consultant, you can combine your knowledge of the company with their expertise in software solutions to create the perfect implementation. Adding a consultant with specialized expertise to your team takes the pressure off you and will result in a better overall long-term solution.

Support When You Need It

When improving your software systems, it’s vital to have a support team. Consultants bring the support you need to feel confident in the changes you’re making. Without an expert there to guide you, the process can become overwhelming and slow to a halt. 

Consultants are there to assist you in making decisions, explain your new processes thoroughly, and train you and your employees on how to use your new and improved system. I guarantee it will be more pleasant and efficient than figuring it all out on your own.

These are just a few of the reasons consultants are highly beneficial when working to create a new software system for your business. If it sounds like you could use consulting services, reach out to The Vested Group today. We look forward to working with you!

The Intersection of Business and Technology: Balancing Customer Service and Artificial Intelligence

The Intersection of Business and Technology: Balancing Customer Service and Artificial Intelligence

Businesses are constantly faced with the challenge of meeting and exceeding customer expectations both efficiently and seamlessly. Artificial Intelligence is changing the way consumers engage with companies. While AI may cut down on costs in some cases, it can ultimately diminish the customer experience if it is overused.

It’s imperative to find the right balance of tech and human interaction that meets customers’ needs. An article by Harvard Business Review states, “These connected customers also expect an omnichannel approach to interactions: They want the convenience and accessibility of online self-service, but they also want access to talk with a human agent when problems get confusing or complex.”

So, what exactly is the perfect balance between technology and human interaction? Unfortunately, there’s not one standard answer, but here are a few things to consider.

Technology’s Role

Many companies use digital assistants or chatbots to answer standard questions or help with simple troubleshooting quickly. Since these technologies can assist multiple customers at once and solve a myriad of common issues, they often improve overall efficiency (and cut costs).

What you must continuously consider is whether the AI elements are actually giving customers what they’re looking for. If the average consumer feels that technology is hindering more than it’s helping, then you’ve run into some issues. I’m sure you’ve encountered a situation in which a robot simply wasn’t giving you the solution you were looking for, and the only thing you want is to speak to a real, live human being.

AI Strengths:

  • Able to answer common questions quickly and precisely.
  • Consistent across all interactions.
  • Filter customers to the correct department.
  • Track incoming data.

AI Weakness:

  • Lacks problem-solving skills, empathy, and emotional interaction.

The Human Element

While AI benefits both customers and companies in many ways, having accessible customer service representatives is essential for more complex issues. Customers should be able to talk and chat with someone promptly if AI can’t provide the answers or assistance they need.

If you are using a human to help with all issues, your processes could likely use a little help from technology. When considering the balance between humans and technology, always think about the customer experience. The ultimate goal is to get your customers the support they need in the fastest and most pleasant way possible, so they will keep coming back.

Human Strengths:

  • Able to solve complex issues.
  • Can empathize and emotionally connect with the consumer.
  • Has the ability to be more knowledgeable than a bot.

Human Weaknesses:

  • Can only work with one customer at a time.
  • More expensive and less consistent.

For your business to successfully balance human and AI customer service elements, you must play on the strengths of each. Listen to customer feedback regarding their experience, and, if necessary, consider bringing in a consultant to help you restructure your customer service department. For more on customized software solutions, check out The Vested Group.

Phase Zero - The Vested Group - Joel Patterson

Phase Zero: How to Create a Solid Plan for Business Success

Every sizable endeavor requires some sort of plan to ensure its overall success. Here at The Vested Group, we take the planning phase of our projects very seriously. We work with each of our clients to create a thorough, structured plan to ensure a successful implementation.

We call this unique part of our planning kickoff Phase Zero. Phase Zero allows us to work directly with the client to plan and create the software solution for their business needs.  This integral first step in planning allows The Vested Group to identify your signature business processes and address foreseeable gaps. During this phase, your needs are not only heard but are an irreplaceable part of the overall planning process. I believe this phase is the defining factor of a project’s success.

What does Phase Zero entail?

Phase Zero takes an average of one to two weeks to complete but can also take over a month, depending on the situation.  Each Phase Zero is conducted according to the client’s specific needs, and no two Phase Zeros are exactly the same. During this time, our consultants work with clients, giving them their undivided attention and brainpower. We begin with a project kickoff, which includes introductions, establishing general goals, and determining the “why” of your project.  We identify your signature processes, and these become the main focus where we define, prioritize, create, and review solutions custom-tailored to your business needs. 

The first few days of Phase Zero are dedicated to understanding your company’s current processes. We look at what works, what could be improved, and the tools needed to help your business’s software systems work for you, not against you.

We then move on to ideation and future state. This brainstorming phase is one of my favorite parts of Phase Zero because this is when we get to hear what your pie-in-the-sky goals are for your new system. Think big! No idea is too outrageous, and every idea could spark innovation that takes an implementation from good to great.  This rapid-fire approach is an Organizational Behavior term called ‘bursting’ and frequently leads to results no one could have predicted on their own.

During Phase Zero, we also review company data—both past and present. We’ll analyze what you have and what we’ll need to do to ensure your legacy data is transferred to the new system without issue.  

After we have documented our findings from the on-site visit, we compile specific recommendations that fit your business needs. We will deliver a formal presentation for your team, including a detailed plan for your implementation that lays out the work to be done and the timeline for your project. We will also discuss our process for conserving and transferring your legacy data and our risk management plan.

Of course, before we wrap up, we’ll have time for any remaining questions or concerns. The purpose of Phase Zero is to work together to ensure that we are on the same page to reach your goals. Phase Zero may seem like a hefty start to a project, but we believe the more comprehensive the planning stage is, the greater the success of the project.

Ready to start your Phase Zero? Reach out! We’d love to work with you.