Winner of the Excellence in the Management of Systems award for 2018, category for medium enterprises

Our adjudicator Marilze Schwar shares with us their experience of Accsys.

How to keep your thinking at the cutting edge

When you’re good at what you do and it’s working well, why change? That attitude is called complacency and it doesn’t go down well at payroll and HR software solutions company Accsys.

“We’re constantly reinvestigating our systems and processes as if we had just bought the company and were walking in cold,” says CEO Teryl Schroenn, who has regular conversations with fellow executives and other employees to check what’s still working and what’s not.

Such discussions can lead to interesting solutions in unexpected aspects of the business. “This morning, feedback received from some of our staff is that diversity is a major issue,” Teryl says. “One of the things we came up with is that for the next year, we will focus on one of the South African languages so that we can all at least greet each other in it.”

Age diversity also helps keep the company’s thinking fresh and creative, she says. “The youngest people here are interns straight out of school. The oldest person is 72. This cross-generational mix is important because it provides a blend of stability and new ideas.” When some people are risk-averse, others risk-tolerant and the rest somewhere in between, the results are more likely to be working than if one or the other dominates.

And results says Teryl, are what count. “The implementation of any technology or system should be designed around outcomes and not the method. The question we ask is: What results do we require?”

That might seem like common sense but a surprising number of companies focus on method rather than results. For example, some businesses will automate their payroll systems but keep the old Excel spreadsheet system just in case.

“The one system checks the other,” she says, adding that this might sound like a good idea until you consider that it not only costs more to run two parallel systems but it is also time-consuming – so there go any time-saving efficiencies management might have been hoping for. “Don’t just do old things in a new way. You’ve got to shift your thinking.”

Something else to be on the lookout for is processes and systems that employees are supposed to be following or using but aren’t, Teryl says. “Ensure that what you think is happening is actually happening. People don’t like change and old habits die hard. If you change something and no one is really watching, people will fall back into their old ways.”

Then there is the not-so-old cliché about fixing things that aren’t broken. “Sometimes it is tempting to change something to make your own life easier but, in the process, you might be making life more difficult for 10 other people. You have to keep on asking yourself and others: Is this really going to drive the business forward?” So there you have it: Go to work every day looking at your company as if you have just bought it and are walking through the door for the first time. What would you change and what would you keep, and what results do you seek?

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