Functional reviews

One of our more popular and highest-impact services is the functional review.

A functional review is an in-depth look at how your organisation works: how it gets things done and achieves its goals, including the formal and informal systems that drive it and the problems that reduce the result. It’s necessarily done from the outside, taking an external perspective, but it requires a deep immersion in the workings of the organisation.

The main activity of a functional review is talking with people, across all levels. In smaller organisations that could be literally everyone.*

There is also an element of formal analysis that may include financial structure, market positioning and product development.

The results are usually – surprising. And at the same time, familiar.

In most organisations there are better ways forward and there are people who know something about those ways, but all the individual perspectives have not been drawn together into a clear picture. Often, the ideas and knowledge of “factory floor” workers have not been given enough weight. Sometimes there are just one or two missing element.

The result is usually a shift in perspective that opens new doors. It can be envigourating and refreshing.

Typically a functional review takes two to three months to complete and many more to implement. It’s likely to be the major internal management thing of the year.

To complete an effective functional review requires a great deal of very varied, practical experience, a solid theoretical background and a good dose of creativity.

Boasting is culturally suspect in Australia, so I’ll just tell you, this is something I’m actually really good at and enthusiastic about.

Costs are in the $10,000 to $30,000 range. Skimping is usually bad value, because the value is in building a deep understanding: if you can’t afford a functional review, consider a kick-start action plan or a business model evaluation.

*  In my experience, the lowest level workers often possess key knowledge, especially about operational problems. I’ve only ever seen a handful of frauds within a business, but in each of these there were low-level staff who knew something was amiss but either didn’t think it was their place to say or weren’t listened to (or didn’t see a safe path to disclosure).