Are Your Processes Robust, Repeatable and Reliable?
If the systems in your business are not robust, repeatable and reliable, when it comes time to grow, you will only be scaling a problem.
The purpose of technology is to empower people and simplify their lives. This applies whether it’s as simple and ancient as a digging stick or the latest and greatest invention to emanate from Silicon Valley. And there’s absolutely no doubt that modern computer-based solutions have done exactly that. With just a few laptops, an internet connection and a handful of subscriptions to cloud based software solutions and we’re good to build a multi-million dollar business.
Throw in a steady supply of customers and our small business with three or four employees can easily scale. It can grow to a far bigger team and even greater revenues.
EASIER SAID THAN DONE
Ok, so I’ve simplified the business side of that somewhat. However, from a technology point of view, there’s really not that much more to it. We may need to transition from using spreadsheets to manage our world to something a little more industrial, such as an ERP, but that’s really just about it.
Such is the flexibility of modern cloud systems. They allow us the freedom to grow, or shrink should the need arise, our enterprises at our leisure.
But, should there be flaws in your procedures and processes, the introduction of scale will be sure to highlight them.
In a small environment, an individual can use a little of their time to sweep issues under the carpet. On the other hand, make it bigger, and your flooring suddenly looks rather lumpy.
Take, for example, a manufacturer that I happen to know. All its orders, regardless of where they come from, end up in a single email inbox. Someone reads these many emails and enters the necessary data into the company’s main system.
Ignoring the many issues that come with having a fallible human in the chain for a moment. This process is tolerable, if not rather wasteful. And if limited to say 100 orders a day is probably acceptable…just.
But what happens if there’s a sudden increase in demand?
If order numbers suddenly increase thanks to a new marketing campaign, Bruce OR Sheila, or whoever is rekeying the data is going to start to struggle. And it won’t be long before it’s Bruce AND Sheila. Something which introduces yet more humanity into an already fragile system.
PROBLEM x SCALE = PROBLEM
When scaling a business, then, you must understand the effect that it will have on your processes and procedures. If you increase your headcount and teach them the poor practices of today, all you do is make your problems bigger.
Effectively, you scale your inefficiencies.
But that’s OK because you can introduce technology and that will help solve the issue, right?
Technology is an enabler and a multiplier.
So, if we introduce technology when we scale
PROBLEM x SCALE x TECHNOLOGY = PROBLEM
Just ask anyone who’s ever put a digger through a water pipe or electricity cable. Had they been using a shovel, it would have been far less of an issue.
3 STEPS TO HEAVEN
The importance of developing effective and repeatable procedures and processes can’t be overstated. Especially when technology is involved. And this brings me on to my FASES methodology and my five principles of technology use.
The A and first S stand for ASSISTANCE and SIMPLIFY, and these equate to the ideas of giving your team everything it needs and then streamlining its activities.
Why the two separate stages for what could easily be just one?
Well, this is a lesson I learned many years ago from a lead software developer who always used implore us to
“Make it work. Ensure it works properly. And make it work quickly.”
Make sure Your Procedures and Processes are Robust, Repeatable and Reliable.
And a good idea is a good idea, so this is one I’ve adopted and modified to suit my new world. So now, I encourage business leaders to look at how they use technology. As well as how they train the team to action their procedures and processes
I encourage them to understand what they do. I ensure they document it so that other lower-skilled employees can replicate it. And subsequently, apply technology appropriately to overcome our human frailties.
Do that, and your business is ready to scale because your procedures and processes are ROBUST, REPEATABLE AND, because they’re supported by technology, extremely RELIABLE.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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