What's the Value of an Corporate Retreat for SMEs?

Jalene Ippolito May 26, 2016

A few years ago, we expanded our SAP Business One practice into Ontario, adding several new people to our team. With a larger team and employees spread across Canada, we realized we needed a few days dedicated to building our internal relationships. And so the annual ProjectLine Corporate Retreat came about.

Fast forward to today and we’re a team of almost 40, located across the globe, making the Retreat more important than ever. This event gives our team some solid one-on-one time so they can get to know each other better and maybe even meet face-to-face for the first time. But more than that, it offers an opportunity for everyone in the organization to gain a better understanding of what their coworkers are actually doing everyday. As any growing company knows, the larger you are, and the faster you grow, the easier it is for silos to form as each individual group breaks off on its own. Our primary goal at the Retreat is to break down those barriers, get everyone on the same page about what’s happening across the organization, and have an open discussion about what’s working...and what isn’t.

So what do we do at our Corporate Retreat?

This year, we brought the team to Saskatoon for our 15 Year Celebration (check out some of the photos from our celebratory activities) and tacked the Retreat onto the end. It was a whirlwind few days, but we managed to pack in a lot of valuable activity for the team. Here’s a quick snapshot of our day and a half Retreat.

Corporate Update

Our management team provided some insight on the status of the company – how we’re performing, what our goals are for the remainder of the year, and where we’re headed longer term. Transparency from the top down is something that tends to be better achieved in smaller companies, and it’s one of those “small business” elements we strive to retain as we grow.

SAP Business One Customer Visit

One of our local manufacturing customers, ABC Canada, graciously hosted us for a tour of their facility. This particular customer runs SAP Business One, along with some custom applications designed by our Development team, so it was an excellent opportunity for everyone in the company to see how the solutions we implement are actually working for the customer.

Team Building

No Corporate Retreat is complete without some good old fashioned team building! So we divided up the group into teams (intentionally pairing up those who don’t know each other well of course) and sent them on a city-wide Amazing Chase. They had to solve clues to discover the destinations and complete challenges along the way. Check out this video to see one of the most entertaining challenges!

We continued the team building activities with a group cooking class at Dreen’s Catering and had a fabulous meal together.

Inter-department Workshops

By the end of Day 1, we’d all gotten to know each other pretty well, which set us up for our cross-functional workshop on Day 2. This was arguably the most valuable activity of the entire Retreat. There was some very open and honest discussion about what challenges different people are seeing in their day-to-day work. The big item that came out of this – as we continue to grow, how can we communicate with each other better? How do we ensure that everyone is in the loop about our goals as a company and the progress we’re making to achieve them? These are pretty common questions that come up in virtually any organization. And while we didn’t necessarily come away with the “grand solution”, we did come up with a list of action items that we can execute relatively quickly to make incremental improvements.

There are any number of ways you can structure a Corporate Retreat, depending on your size, geographical distribution and even the industry you’re in. We try to mix things up and do it a bit differently each year. But the goal is always the same – build stronger relationships among the team and develop a game plan to tackle the challenges facing the organization. Ultimately, our goal is to run better internally so we’re able to help our customers do what they do. Better.

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