Time to evaluate

By Alex Dahm14 January 2009

Successful organizations around the world follow five fundamental management principles - planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and evaluating. The final step, traditionally, is the weakest link in management.

This happens for numerous reasons. Sometimes the distractions of day-to-day priorities take up so much time that owners and managers feel they can barely keep programmes moving forward, much less evaluate them. In other cases, top management simply does not want to see or hear the periodic, unproductive results that often become obvious during the evaluation process.

Overlooking the critical management step of evaluation, however, can seriously hinder, even ruin, virtually any business. SC&RA is undergoing long-term self-evaluation.

Following the evaluation of our achievements in a number of key performance areas from the 2006-2008 Strategic Plan, the association will formulate its 2009-2011 Strategic Plan. Regardless of what that evaluation reveals, the SC&RA Strategic Planning Committee will look at how the association can grow and become an even more resounding, effective voice for the industry.

We urge our member companies to make similar formal evaluations in every important area, including sales, marketing, accounting, regulatory compliance, productivity, safety and more. We often provide useful tools to help members make evaluations. After all, strong members make for a strong association.

An example is our periodic Financial Benchmarking Surveys. Although members pay nothing to participate, they gain invaluable information about their company's financial performance compared to that of other companies in their industry. To make the studies even more relevant, the actual statistics and analyses are separated into service types.

In practical terms, the studies help companies evaluate themselves by answering a number of important questions: Exactly how much more money could I be making if I managed my cost of services as efficiently as my top-performing peers? How does my operating profit compare to others in my type of operation? How do my cash flow and liquidity levels compare to others? Am I making the most efficient use of my assets and equipment? Are my employees as productive as others in SC&RA? Are my staff costs in line?

Plans call for next year's Financial and Risk Management Forum to again be built around a new benchmarking study. SC&RA also provides many practical sessions on a variety of topics that members can use to evaluate the success of their companies as part of the Annual Conference, the Specialized Transportation Symposium, and the Crane & Rigging Workshop.

One of the major reasons we chose our exclusive insurance provider over a dozen years ago was the company's unique risk management services, which enable SC&RA members to evaluate themselves in a manner that helps them avoid injuries and property damage. Now known as NBIS, the company continues to stand out for its risk management services.

The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) grew from SC&RA members' desire to resolve persistent crane safety problems. Performance standards developed by NCCCO since it became an independent non-profit certification body in 1995, have enabled members to thoroughly evaluate operators' knowledge and skills. NCCCO has enhanced lifting equipment safety, reduced workplace risk, improved performance records, stimulated training, and provided due recognition to the professional skill of crane operation.

Similarly, SC&RA, working with the Federal Highway Administration and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, developed the Pilot Car Escort Best Practices Guidelines. These guidelines help members in the pilot car segment of our industry to evaluate their programmes and make improvements. SC&RA's 12-page Products Catalog includes many other tools to help you evaluate various aspects of your company. You can find it at www.scranet.org/store

If, as you evaluate your own company, you see a need for a specific informational tool that would also be beneficial to other SC&RA members, please let us know.

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