Making IT work… for business growth
There are only three weeks to Christmas. For many service based businesses, trade will decrease towards the festive break. This gives business owners and managers some slack, and this presents itself as an opportunity to spend some time planning ahead for 2014 and allow for growth.
Many sectors are now experiencing a small amount of growth. Assuming 2014 is a better year for your business than 2013, you will hopefully receive more enquiries, a better response to marketing campaigns, and an increase in attendance at exhibitions and events. So has your business the processes and systems in place for increased demand in 2014 and beyond?
My recommendation is to follow your entire value stream, which is all of your business processes from start to end, typically running from enquiry to delivery. Start with a whiteboard or large sheet of paper, and map out all the sources from which enquiries originate. Then follow these to the proposal/quote generation process, and on to the sales response from a prospect. Win? What happens next? Lose? Do you capture feedback from the prospect, or do you just move onto the next enquiry? How do you review/test your product or service before presenting it to the customer? As you map out each process, think really hard about if it could be removed, improved, or automated. Could technology replace, simplify or better support the process? Could you replace paper forms with electronic forms or documents? Sometimes simple solutions are the best. I recommend being really bold and replacing the existing process and paper with an electronic system. This will give you a step-change in capability and efficiency.
If you’re not convinced about the return on investment, consider an iterative or ‘baby steps’ approach. This allows you to make smaller, less risky changes incrementally.
Whichever approach you choose, speak with your IT suppliers about your thoughts and needs for 2014 and beyond. Ask for a number of costed options, and work out which gives you the best combination of capability and return on investment.