"Despite the scarcity of truth in the workplace, the supply still exceeds the demand."
As a consumer of goods and services, I like no surprises when using these goods and services. As a provider of professional services, I believe our clients expect the same. We work hard to ensure that our clients experience no surprises when doing business with us – for example:
- When meeting with a prospective client to discuss a potential project, we try to practice the no guessing principle and ask the hard questions – about time, people, and money – in a professional and respectful manner.
- We follow professional standards related to competence, professional care, planning and supervising work, and developing sufficient relevant data to support the engagement objectives. We act with integrity and objectivity in the best interests of our client, and we work with our client to develop a mutual understanding of the nature and scope of the project and our services.
- We communicate our status with the client throughout the project.
- We try to do most of our work at the client's location, for efficiency of work and ease of communication.
Of course, things do not always go as planned. And if something goes awry, I always want our personnel to tell me the truth, regardless of how much I may not want to hear the truth. When things do not go as planned, we let our client know as soon as possible, and we work with them to mutually determine next steps.
Early in my career, I was auditing a client and the controller made a comment I'll always remember – "Despite the scarcity of truth in the workplace, the supply still exceeds the demand." Dick told me this with a small grin on his face, and I grinned, too – but then I thought about this client's situation, and how some of the executives did not want to hear about production and shipping problems that would jeopardize their sales goals – they just wanted sales, to enable some very nice bonuses. Sometimes the greatest service we can provide our clients is to tell the truth – for example, an executive may have been shielded from the truth and was making decisions with an incomplete or inaccurate frame of reference, because no one wanted to surprise the boss.
Take a moment and think about the implications of the imbalance of supply and demand for truth. Didn't such an imbalance lead to the massive frauds at WorldCom and Enron? Very possibly, these frauds could have been traced back to an unwanted surprise, where truth was supplied, but was not in demand.
So, when surprises do occur – and you know they will – practice integrity and tell the truth. A few memorable phrases about trust, integrity, and telling the truth:
- As an Eagle Scout, I can still recite – and do my best to apply – the Scout Law, which begins "A Scout is Trustworthy."
- An Executive Coach describes her work as "telling the truth with compassion."
- A Director of Operations Accounting tells me he has occasionally been asked to fudge the numbers, but he hasn't because "I came into this job with only my integrity, and I intend to take that with me when I leave."
In our firm, we do our best to practice no guessing to understand our clients' needs and help ensure that our clients experience no surprises – but when they do occur, we tell the truth.
Todd L. Herman
Client Project Update:
I am pleased to provide you with an update on our client projects. Projects we have completed over this period are...
Analyzing Data to Enhance Revenues
Analyzed the address records of several municipalities against those of utility companies providing services to identify additional franchise tax due, resulting in greater revenue for the municipality.
Systems and Process Cleanup
Directed and managed the cleanup of the financial records for the operating entity and foundation for this national industry association, helping restore confidence in reported information.
Verified and reconciled job cost information and subsidiary ledgers, and oversaw debugging and issue tracking, permitting this structural steel fabricator to more fully rely upon its recent system customizations.
Consulted with financial and operations management on short-term tactics to extend the life of their outdated system, while also planning for a new system, helping them meet both time-sensitive business goals and overall company budgets.
Assessing System Needs
Assessed the business processes and information needs of this custom manufacturer to identify suitable business system packages, helping management make an informed decision on their system investment.
Managing an IMS Implementation
Began managing and assisting in the implementation of an inventory management system (IMS) and related bar code equipment for this specialty manufacturer, helping managers quickly and knowledgeably make crucial setup decisions affecting processing and data collection.
Stopgap Sales Order Preparation
Developed an Excel application to allow sales representatives to quickly and accurately prepare sales order requests, enabling Customer Service staff to handle a large increase in sales orders without adding personnel.
Future projects we are planning include...
Allocating Travelers' Compensation
Develop an application to allocate compensation to states where traveling executives and managers work, allowing this company to proactively address efforts by state departments of revenue to attribute income to their states.
ERP System Screening
Work with managers to assess the key requirements of a new ERP system, helping this fast-growing converter identify systems meeting both functional and cost objectives.
Deploy a Lotus Notes-based system for secure knowledge management, allowing this processor of specialty crops to easily, securely, and cost-effectively share and manage proprietary information.
Instilling Accountability for Sales Results
Assist a business owner in developing the forms and procedures to help track key sales and marketing activities, helping instill sales rep accountability for activities and results.
Evaluating Contract Profitability
Complete an ASP application based on SQL Server components to compute the true reimbursement (net of contractual and other allowances) for services performed, allowing this medical testing services provider to assess the true profitability of its contracts with insurers.
Systems Fit/Gap Analysis
Perform a fit/gap analysis of an industry-specific ERP application still in development, allowing this client to intelligently assess the risks and opportunities of adopting this application and evaluate timetables for system conversion.
Improving Billing Accuracy
Develop an application to automate the insurance verification process for this medical services firm, allowing billing representatives to find and fix incomplete or inaccurate information before sending bills to insurers, reducing after-the-fact research and rebills, and speeding receipt of payments.