Growing Pains and how to overcome them………..
How many businesses start with the luxury of knowing exactly where they are going, how they are going to get there and what systems and tools they will use to get there? If you fall into this bracket, then my advice would be to bottle it and sell it, because most of us definitely don’t.
Most companies start and grow from brilliant ideas, they buy some stuff, sell some stuff and recruit some people. Over time they get bigger and need systems to support their growth, probably starting with an Accounts Package, maybe a database or two, an ERP or manufacturing solution and possibly even a CRM system. This all helps and allows companies to buy a bit more, sell a bit more and recruit some more. Next thing you know 10 years has gone by and you’re now managing a ‘proper’ grown up business with staff, customers, prospects, a regular revenue stream and hopefully a nice chunk of profit thrown in for good measure; all of which is great.
However, the challenges faced over the last 10 years don’t simply disappear, they generally get bigger and more complex. Fine, there are more people to overcome these but they will all need tools to be able to do so efficiently and expediently. To ensure the business continues to grow, or even just to retain stability, we need to acquire new customers and make sure we retain the existing ones; we may need to increase the number of suppliers we have or form stronger relations with existing ones. Pricing is likely to be key as sectors become more and more competitive, so we need to position ourselves to achieve the best buy price and the highest selling price for our products and services.
Regardless of your business type, sector or size, to achieve this information is vital; from the price of fresh produce to fuel burn rates for transatlantic flights; from conversion ratios for marketing campaigns and sales opportunities to staff performance – we can’t run and grow our businesses without understanding what’s going on.
This was all relatively straightforward 10 years ago when the company was just starting out and there were a handful of people involved. However, now there are many more people involved and many more systems holding different information. In addition, customer expectations have increased significantly, primarily due to the competition brought by the internet and everyone’s desire to have everything immediately; if stores can deliver an order on the same day, surely a company can provide an answer, be it a quote, response to a service query or even just a simple answer to a question, within less time. And that’s just thinking about your external customer; what about your internal ones, your staff? Surely you have a responsibility to provide them with a similar if not better level of attention or response when needed.
The question then arises; how do I make better use of my resources? Well, in many cases it can be quite straightforward. The key is to make sure that everyone is on the same page, has easy access to the same accurate and up to date information and has the time to use it and efficiently manage their day to day tasks. Here’s 9 ways we believe companies can start to overcome their Growing Pains:
- Free up peoples time by integrating systems so that they share data and time is saved in not having to duplicate information. This will ensure users have access to the relevant data to make strategic decisions quickly and accurately.
- Pool key data into comprehensive reports and dashboards representing a view of all relevant data with the ability to drill-down to a granular level of detail.
- Mobilise systems and data to mobile phone and/or tablet App so that people have access whilst out of the office.
- Provide your customers with Apps to engage with your business at all hours of the day without the need for staff being available to respond directly.
- Automate business processes, workflows and approvals freeing up time and avoiding unnecessary paper trails whilst maintaining an accurate audit trail.
- Don’t neglect internal customers, replicate the above so that they receive the same level of service and attention as external customers. Ensure systems are in place to manage HR, Recruitment, On-boarding and Development.
- Use internal systems to manage corporate governance, giving users access to up to date policies, contracts and documentation all with the correct branding, tone and messaging.
- Ensure internal systems are optimised to support your team in doing their day to day tasks as efficiently as possible and that they add value to the users rather than being cumbersome and antiquated.
- Finally keep it simple. Be clear about what delivers the best ROI and start there.
So how do we go about achieving this Utopia? Well start by listing the areas that are struggling to cope with the workload. Look for the bottlenecks and capacity constraints across the key business functions. Talk to members of your team and finally speak with an external software specialist and get some advice on what is possible.
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