Businesses that are ticking along happily, showing minimal growth, are much easier to run than businesses facing significant growth. With a stable business, you just keep doing what you're doing. With a business doubling in size every year or two, you have to rebuild your processes constantly.
Businesses often approach Ignite Alliance with rapid growth as both the goal and the concern. They want the growth, but they are understandably concerned about the resulting challenges it will cause. While each recommendation we make is tailored to each company's particular situation, there are some general guidelines we often suggest.
One of them is to future proof your company by data integration and automation.
Here's how we just improved our own business. While your particular scenario will be different, this example might help.
With Ignite poised for rapid growth, and our founders already putting in long hours, we looked at anything we might automate. Something we knew we wanted to reduce was time spent on low-value admin and copying & pasting, and interruptions to check the status of various tasks. Our founders’ time is a most precious resource, so anything that saves them time is appreciated, even if we have to spend money to save that time.
As we use Salesforce for our CRM and Xero for our accounting system, we had been copying and pasting data back and forth between the two systems. And whenever a team member had to check an Invoice status, a brief conversation was required. This might only be a 2 minute conversation, but it was an interruption into our flow.
So we implemented Breadwinner, which offers a Salesforce to Xero integration. All of a sudden, the 30-click copy-and-paste operation which creates our customer's invoice was now only a few clicks to confirm; the interrupting conversations to check on an invoice status ended immediately, as everyone can see the status of an invoice. The cost was the time spent evaluating and trialling and the subscription. But the long term benefit is that our business runs a little bit better, our founders have more time, and overdue invoice information is distributed effortlessly.
Your situation is likely different, but here are the steps to identify the low-hanging fruit, and see what can be automated and how to start future-proofing your company.
Identify the most valuable person's time in the business. This is usually the founder(s), but can be the main salesperson, or the main implementer.
Start by asking them what's the most boring part of their job. Repetitive, low-value tasks are usually boring, and if you can make your company more efficient while increasing staff happiness, all the better.
Watch them as they perform their boring or repetitive tasks. Count the minutes or clicks and redundant phone calls or emails that could be automated.
If this effort is repetitive tasks on a computer, consider integration or automation. If it's with other people internally in the company, consider automation of knowledge or distributed decision-making. If with people external to the company, consider what technology will allow self-service (which, ideally, the recipient will appreciate as well).
Come up with the rough cost of integrating. And also the hidden cost of not integrating (include the all-in cost of staff salaries, which is usually double the nominal salary to include vacation, recruitment, training, office space, etc).
Get realistic. Integrations always have hiccups, so multiply the cost of integrating by 1.5. Then get optimistic and multiply the cost of not integrating by how much bigger you want your company to be in 24 months.
And then get busy!
If you would like to talk to us about how we implemented Breadwinner into our system, or just want to see how we can help you streamline your processes, drop us a line on 1300 22 46 86 or make an appointment. We’re here for you.