What to do with the eggs in the nest?

You can see the eggs sitting in the nest and you might even have snatched some from another nest just to make sure you have lots to do, but do you really know what’s inside them?  You need to know as instead of a cute little chick, it might be a dragon (they exist in my world) before looking at your future strategy.

So what is the meaning of strategy?  There are copious amounts of academic and business references as to what is strategy, however I have chosen two definitions provided by the Business Dictionary and they are;

1.         A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

2.         The art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use. The term is derived from the Greek word for generalship or leading an army. See also tactics.


Reference - http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/strategy.html

You have of course, for the purpose of this instalment, only recently got your promotion or changed job, so there is a little work to do before you can fully decide on what your strategy should be.  The most obvious ones for a payroll provider is growth and customer service, which of course should lead to growth anyway.


So what might you need to do first?

Understand the business and how your department/area fits into the bigger picture.  There is nothing worse than an area of the business trying to score the gold stars if they do so, in conflict with the rest of the business.

Find out what the company objectives and mission statement is and look at where your area/department is, in trying to help achieve them; if at all!

When I started at Armstrong Watson and yes, like all of you I wanted to demonstrate they had sought the right person for the job, I designed myself a project plan.  This was mainly to keep me on track and to prevent me going off on a tangent (those who know me, know I can be easily distracted with potentially more exciting tasks).


So what was on my plan, simply put?

  • Understand the business objectives
  • What was the payroll proposition i.e. who are we and what do we do?
  • What was the current budget looking like for both income and expenditure
  • Produce a SWOT analysis – Strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  • Produce a competitive analysis (as we are a commercial provider)
  • Produce an operation plan for the business objectives

How did I go about the SWOT?

  • Identified the issues by holding 1-1s with all the team and business colleagues
  • Listen to suggestions for improvement and the opportunities
  • Listen to my staff on what the service could look like if only we had…..
  • Understand what we do well now?
  • Understand what can influence the service internally and externally – PESTCLIMED model

Using all the above information (for which there were lots) I adapted Porters Five Forces to provide me that helicopter view of what and where we were.

I then revisited the businesses strategic purpose and reminded myself of:



















As part of my strategic operational plan, it was imperative that I also linked the recommendations to Armstrong Watson’s core goals and values.  Values I think are quite often forgotten; goals for example achieve £x growth by doing X or increase clients by X by 2020 is obviously important, but the values will determine how you will go about doing that.  We have values that include Passion, humanity, client focussed and trust (amongst a number of others).  These values, normally communicated externally and internally need to be demonstrated within your plan, or you will never get it past the boss.  Some of you might be saying “well the boss doesn’t understand payroll anyway” and this might be true, but you can bet your bottom dollar they do know their business!



Having pondered (yes I do a lot of that) on all the research I have gathered, it is now time to determine which direction the department needs to go in.  Remember, as in previous articles don’t try and do this alone, you really don’t know everything.  I created a payroll leadership team, made up of different, brilliant minds.  I shared what I had found out (the good and the not so good) and we categorised everything to decide on our future direction and ultimately our strategic approach.

Operational Plan in summary
  • Marketing including campaigns
  • Sales
  • PR
  • Recruitment and retention
  • Solutions and or opportunities, identifying the potential barriers
  • Training and development of staff
  • Technological including advances in technology and what we were going to do with them

Depending on what you identify as important and whether there are issues and or opportunities, will determine what your operational plan looks like. 

Another hint for you, find out what your boss likes i.e. are they analytical and want every scrap of detail, or maybe they are a driver and just want an executive summary of your intent?  I was fortunate my boss doesn’t want all the detail, but of course this doesn’t mean you can skip that part, as the detail is what will provide you with your executive summary.  It will also help you answer any questions that might be thrown your way.


So you now know your business, your department, your team and your customers.  You know what the issues are, the opportunities and any threats.  You have worked with your valued team to look at them all and now your plan is formed. 

Please don’t try and do it all at once, plan your priorities and determine what you can achieve in the next 90 days and stick to it.  The other stuff won’t be forgotten but you might find by resolving the priority items to achieve your strategy, some if not all the others disappear.  Now that’s a nice thought no problems only opportunities to explore!

Until next time when we look at how you can influence the powers at B, happy hatching!

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