The six most common mistakes made by new NDIS providers
13 August 2020 at 8:22 am
LMS TRG highlights where businesses can go wrong when it comes to applying to become an NDIS provider and shares some advice on how you can avoid the pitfalls.
With the National Disability Insurance Scheme rolling out across Australia, many businesses are seizing the opportunity to become registered NDIS providers and help meet the massive surge in nationwide demand for disability services. This is good for people in need of such essential services and for businesses able to provide them.
However, experts suggest that a large number of newly-registered NDIS providers may go out of business in the next two years. This is due to a combination of lacking business skills, low delivery quality and an inability to maintain compliance against NDIS Standards due to poor systems and understanding.
There will always be knowledge gaps in any new and emerging markets. At LMS TRG our goal has been to fill this gap with comprehensive programs, products and advice about the NDIS. In this article, we have identified six common mistakes made by businesses when registering or renewing their application to become NDIS providers.
The NDIS is not a gold mine
Starting your own business can be exciting and rewarding. With the introduction of the NDIS, there are even more reasons to start a meaningful business to help people with disabilities whilst enjoying the feeling of being your own boss. However, it is not a get rich quick scheme! New entrants who don’t have a proper appreciation of the intricacies of the sector emerging around the NDIS before getting started will fall into early, costly traps.
Like any other business, being an NDIS provider has its own complexities, risks and challenges. It is a highly-regulated industry with many levels of mandatory formal compliance and un-written complexities. We at LMS TRG recommend you do your due diligence by writing a business plan and understanding what the requirements are on you as a provider before starting your NDIS journey.
Buying templates does not guarantee a successful management system
You might decide to purchase one of the many off-the-shelf NDIS templates, policies and procedures to help get you started. The market is flooded with consultants and self-assessed ‘experts’ with offerings that may assist to expedite the NDIS audit and finish your registration or renewal process. But this would only be the start of your journey.
Knowing when, where, what and how to use those documents is the real key to a successful, well-maintained certification and business. It will need ongoing management and review to understand which of these templates are working for you and which are a cost without any benefit. Knowledge is power!
Auditors are not consultants
To become a registered NDIS provider, you will have to go through the audit process. You must prepare yourself and your system before the audit. The auditor’s job is to check the current state of your business and assess compliance against the NDIS Standards and the NDIS Quality Indicators Guidelines.
Do not expect the auditors to guide you or to give you the action plan. Auditors cannot give you any consultation. It is also important to remember that just having a set of purchased templates is not a guarantee to passing the audit. It’s only part of the process. The auditor will test your knowledge and experience as well.
Audit non-conformities = game over?
It’s not uncommon for an auditor to raise findings and non-conformities during the audit. NDIS providers often think that an audit finding will stop their registration or renewal, or it may impact the NDIS Commission’s approval. Depending on the type and category of the findings, you may need to develop an action plan or be given time to fix the missing processes or documents. We suggest learning about the audit process and preparing for what is expected from you before, during and after the audit.
Internal audits are not a waste of time
Internal audits are the most valuable way to improve your organisation. Internal auditing is a skill and knowledge that could be used to identify the gaps in your system and improve your business performances.
Access to an NDIS audit checklist, audit platform or any audit software won’t make you an expert internal auditor overnight. The checklists and software that are in the market are only tools that can be used during the audit. Knowing how to use these tools to your advantage is key. At LMS TRG, we strongly recommend NDIS providers learn about best-practice internal auditing. LMS TRG’s comprehensive NDIS internal auditor course based on NDIS standards and international best-practice is one proven place to start.
Applying for more registration groups is not always the best business model
Sticking to a realistic business plan is essential. New providers tend to add all the registration groups under NDIS “in case” they need them for providing services later. There will be consequences to this, starting with the invoice that you get from your auditors as audit costs are typically calculated based on the complexity and size of the NDIS application.
It may also lead to more audit findings due to lack of experience or resources and this may stop or delay the application process. It is not the best strategy and we have seen it fail too often. Always remember, you can add or remove any registration group later on as needed.
About LMS TRG
LMS TRG is a compliance training organisation that builds and delivers powerful and practical products for people and businesses, backed by an amazing team of trainers, auditors, consultants and entrepreneurs. Our goal at LMS TRG is to give the knowledge and expertise businesses need to complete their NDIS registration or renewal, make informed choices and succeed. Learn more here.