Successful businesses often find themselves adapting for growth, having to evolve and adapt to their latest challenges that come with meeting client demands, while keeping up with competitors and the latest innovations within their market space. Most companies discover this means changing their technology infrastructure and upgrading the processes in which they handle workflow to make tasks simpler and address both client and market needs. To be effective and efficient in your service delivery model this means consolidating as many chapters of your workflow into as few application solutions as you can and hopefully just one application.
In short, these are your options:
1. Find a technology that can manage your business from end to end, meaning from sales to delivery (and in some cases after-the-sale support).
2. Find a technology that has the ability to integrate or connect with other services or applications you may need to include in your workflow.
Both methods are acceptable and can deliver the positive benefits equated with smooth(er) workflow. However, if you choose option one it should be able to incorporate option two. Whatever solution you determine a best fit, it has to be a model that can account for scalability and growth. You will need to consider productivity, processes, product expansion, staff and even geography at the very least. Imagine your best case scenario as a business and then plan accordingly.
When it comes to business processes most people only address matters when problems arise and need absolute attention. Often takes a ‘serious’ issue for them to take action, but until then they just cope. Complications that develop in operations are a direct result of neglect in the workflow and the result is an inefficient and poor service delivery model that usually begins at the department level or employee roles. People make operational decisions based on their experience and capabilities. The less technically inclined they are the more defective their workflow may be.
Let’s compare a dysfunctional workflow in a company to diabetes in the human body. There are millions of people who are pre-diabetic and a good many of them are due to neglecting their own health, specifically diet and exercise. As a result, a person’s body suffers from a variety of problems like high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, and enlarged organs just to name a few. Overtime if the health of the person continues to be ignored, these collective issues create more problems and can ultimately be fatal.
Inefficiency, lack of processes, dysfunctional workflow, however you wish to define it is diabetes for business. As with the body, both are caused by simple neglect and bad habits. Process problems that go on unattended create more issues throughout the company as time passes and can ultimately determine the fate of the company if not properly tended to. Depending on the business, ‘fate’ doesn’t necessarily mean death, depending on the industry it could simply mean the company finds itself struggling in areas that restrict growth.
Like the human body, resources would work harder than they should to achieve the same results, in the case of business; fulfilling an order. The process from taking a lead to an invoice can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Never underestimate that each will have an ultimate impact on your service delivery capabilities, which affects not just revenue, but employee attitude and morale.
Learn from this; there are some people who have diabetes that actually have put a positive spin on the disease. They claim that if it were for being diabetic they wouldn’t feel as healthy as they do, because of the lifestyle changes they’ve had to make. The point is, make the change in your business workflow lifestyle for the better, by choice and early on, rather than having to be forced to do it later. The sooner you change, the sooner you will reap the benefits.
Most SMBs make this mistake from the very beginning. They enter the market with a vision, a product or service and a plan to execute. The problem begins with hiring talent in key positions with a single purpose and responsibility like sales, accounting, warehouse manager and so on. Smaller organizations (less than 50 people) often never engage a single source solution to operate or at least facilitate workflow. They focus on optimizing and perfecting their piece of the puzzle and ignore the entire ecosystem that is the workflow of the business. When technology systems are introduced long after processes and procedures have been established it makes the integration and adoption of newer improved solutions an even greater challenge, primarily because employees can’t break away from the legacy workflow they’ve implemented and refined over time.
Younger businesses should consider adopting an integrated solution, scalable enough to ultimately meet the needs of the 3-5 year business plan. Make the investment in time and resources to adopt the right CRM or ERP solution early on and spend your future days building your business and not rebuilding your operations. Be proactive and change the way you do business internally, rather than being reactive and having your challenges make the decision for you.