Your business should work like a well-oiled machine, particularly during a recovery period. This comes down to having the right systems and processes in place even if it means developing new ones.
How do we navigate our way through this economic turmoil? How do we ensure that our businesses survive in order to provide us and our employees the ability to enjoy a full and safe life outside the workplace? How do we ensure that our businesses will in fact prosper, or at least be positioned to prosper, in the future? The bottom line is that we can’t simply rely on the things we’ve done in the past or on government assistance alone to get us thru this Covid-19 crisis. We should instead use this time to evaluate every aspect of our business and chart a course for the eventual recovery from this crisis.
We decided to dedicate a series of blogs to offer some clear and concise ways for a privately held business how to re-examine itself, to identify the key elements of its success, to develop strategies for ensuring its survival during economic turmoil, and ultimately to build a plan for thriving in the present and the future. In part four of this series we will focus in the need to examine your Processes and Systems.
I. Adopt new technology platforms particularly web based tools.
With the rapid adoption of new technology (particularly new web solutions) opportunities exist for cost savings across the whole business. The significance of web based solutions is the emergence
of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model where you do not have to invest in the upfront cost but rather you pay a monthly fee for the use of the system. Many business processes can be installed in your business under the SaaS model, including CRM, project management, accounting systems and so on. You need to consider the short term cost of disruption as well as the longer term cost benefits.
II. Revise IT Capital Expense.
There are many rules that businesses adopt regarding spending on IT. At the end of the day investment in IT should either increase revenues, reduce costs, increase customer service or increase productivity. Some businesses only invest when an item is so old that it has rusted, others have a rotation based replacement policy (e.g. three years for a desk top), still others have a policy about following new software releases (e.g. they upgrade to the latest version of Windows within 12 months of its release). In the current climate take a hard look at IT spending.
Do not cut expenditure on core systems, redundancy or disaster recovery. Murphy’s Law will get you and this will be very costly. But have a close look at trying to get another year out of existing systems. OK, you will not get the efficiency gain or even the customer service increase, but in the short term will this make that much of a difference?
III. Look for increased internal efficiencies.
There is always a smarter way to do something. The challenge, normally, is in overcoming institutionalized behaviors. But necessity is the mother of invention and in a time of crisis people adopt
a survival mentality, so the resistance to change is lower. Run an ideas board and call for innovations from across the whole team. Most improvements do not involve processes that senior management are involved in, but rather they come from rank and file workers who operate in the trenches. This is a particularly good time to listen to the rank and file.
IV. Look for systemic failures.
Every business has systems but many of these have developed in an ad hoc way. As the business grows the systems just absorb a greater load until they overload. Before systems actually fail they
start to leak, and this means poorer productivity, poorer returns and missed profits. Many businesses are not aware of systems failures because they are covered up by good business performance. As author Jim Collins argues in his book ‘From Good to Great’, good is the enemy of great. The fact that a system has not collapsed from overloading does not mean it is not leaking – and this
is costing you. Also review each system’s relevance to ensure that the system is actually adding value to your business. systems and processes
As the most recent Covid-19 outbreak demonstrated, the ability to operate the business remotely or being able to reach customers who can not reach you might be critical to the survival of the business. Make sure you test these systems or develop new ones if applicable to sustain the business in times of crisis.