SME Taskforce

Everything we do is guided by its intended end user – small and medium-sized businesses. That’s why we’ve asked leaders from some of the UK’s most forward-thinking firms go join our “Taskforce”.

From beach-front restaurants in Cornwall to glass blowers in Cumbria, each are exemplars in their field when it comes to continuous improvement and a keen eye on the future. Together, they provide advice and guidance on our efforts, helping shape interventions and ensuring the Be the Business offering meets the requirements of Britain’s economic backbone. They’ve also shared some recent improvement efforts.

Paul Wenham

Paul Wenham

MD, Geometric Manufacturing

“In the last year we’ve invested in machinery that means a block of raw aluminium can be converted to a fully-machined component by a single team member in a fraction of the time it used to take. We have created a highly efficient manufacturing cell which gives ultimate flexibility. The next planned innovation, which we hope to work towards in 2019, is to add a loading robot to the cell which would take productivity to the next level.”

Chris Blade

Chris Blade

MD, Cumbria Crystal

“Innovation has played a key part in our recent efforts. The development of energy saving doors for our glass furnaces reduced consumption by 30 per cent, while grants were won to develop new glass recipes and help us produce hand-blown decanters for the premium end of the luxury spirits market. We’ve also prioritised training and investment in staff, with 25 per cent of employees undertaking formal NVQ qualifications in the last 18 months to empower them to function more independently.”

Jacqueline Jackson

Jacqueline Jackson

Partner, Thomas Jardine & Co

“One recent change for us has come in the form of collaborating with Xero and a regional accountancy firm to encourage SMEs to adopt cloud-based systems such as accounting, digital payments, stock control and food and drink production systems. As early adopters, it has streamlined our processes, decreased administration cost and improved the speed of reconciliation – providing real-time management accounts and tighter control of the business. ”

Matthew Thomson

Matthew Thomson

MD, Fifteen Cornwall

“We decided to cross-train operational staff to optimise their deployment and to increase the knowledge intensity and value of their roles. Providing sommelier knowledge for restaurant floor staff has increased beverage revenues. We also incentivise staff progression with incremental pay awards that reflect increasing competence, enabling the value higher-skilled staff generate to be shared across the business and keeping staff-retention above industry average.”

Paul Jackson

Paul Jackson

MD, UV Lighting

“The business has recently been working on the alignment of key resources and activities aimed at driving business critical outcomes, which are underpinned by further alignment with the team’s personal growth aspirations. This has been a critical success factor for recent increases in our productivity.”

James Pickles

James Pickles

Head of TPG Engineering, TP Group

“We fully re-organised the business during 2018 to provide a "fit for purpose" organisation based on the market requirements we face today, but also in alignment to the new three-year business strategy developed towards the end of 2017. We have aligned functions to execute the full life cycle of our product offering and implemented a structure that provides leadership and support to allow the employees to flourish and realise their potential. The result has been a revenue per head increase of 30 per cent, a significant increase in profit and a maintaining of our strong safety and quality record.”

Mike Cherry

Mike Cherry

National chairman, Federation of Small Businesses

“One of our FSB members, an IT and software company based in Glasgow, recently scaled up from ten to 20 employees. With our research showing a lack of time, not enough skilled employees and the challenge of innovation are the three main barriers to introducing innovation, it was great to see that the owner decided to invest in training his senior management team as he realised the importance of them having received extra help and support to enhance their skills. Thanks to this training, he has had more free time and been able to invest in growing the business and expanding services to overseas markets.”

Brian Palmer

Brian Palmer

CEO, Tharsus

“We are embarking on a new data infrastructure that will lead to the business having a "single source of the truth". This will be powered by our primary ERP and accounting applications, enabling the business to remove the many spreadsheets we currently rely on for analysis – replacing them with a business intelligence interface that delivers insight from our data and allowing for targeted productivity interventions.”

Mark Holden

Mark Holden

Director, Inn Cornwall

“The hospitality industry can be a very fast pace environment that operates seven days a week and with very little down time. As our business has developed, we have learnt the importance of keeping our financial inputting and reporting up to speed with our business output. Heads of department and key members of staff need to have easy access to live information – such as purchase tallies – as well as historic data. We are having to tackle cultural changes across the board to gain confidence in cloud filing and get the team to realise it’s there for everyone’s benefit.”

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