One of the hardest parts of my job is convincing people that there are almost always better ways of doing the things they are doing. More often than not, a little bit of research is all that is required to find and implement substantial procedural or technological improvements.
Businesses, both small and large, regularly throw money away on time consuming, unnecessary work, or ill-considered solutions. This article will help you look for, and identify, telltale signs that your business can be streamlined.
1. Employees performing repetitive, time-consuming jobs
How many people in your company spend more than 30 minutes a day doing something repetitive and boring? Almost everyone, I guess. Almost all repetitive work is a good candidate for automation.
If your finance person spends hours a day happily building reports by sucking data from various spreadsheets into a master spreadsheet so that everyone can look at the pretty colours, then you are wasting his/her time and your money.
This is my number one bugbear. I guess, from my experience, that most companies maintain a staff approximately 30% larger than they need to. This leads to unnecessary, bloated operating capital requirements.
2. Expensive bespoke solutions
You’ve decided your company needs an Intranet site to help manage the business and provide real-time information and communication between the different departments. The first thing you do is go speak to a team of developers who listen to your needs and provide you with a quote. Sound about right?
The problem is, every team of developers out there is going to provide the solution the way they know how. They aren’t experts in every different platform – only their own. It’s up to you, the business, to research which solution is going to be the best, and then go in search of people to deliver it.
Almost without fail, a cheap, reliable (very often, more reliable than any alternatives) open source solution is available and easily implemented over bespoke or commercial software. Which brings me neatly to my next point….
3. Open source? It’s not reliable
If you aren’t using open source solutions to many, if not most, of your internal technology requirements then you haven’t done your research. Many open source technologies are far more reliable and well-designed than their commercial counterparts. Many systems have large, thriving communities of developers, consultants, trainers and so on.
Not only is open source technology often free of charge, it is also easy and cheaper to maintain because you aren’t tied in to one single support service that can effectively charge what they like because you are locked in to them.
With open source software, you can hunt for the best value service because the source code is freely available for modification to anyone who knows what they’re doing. And yes, there are plenty of people out there who know what they’re doing. There’s a reason that the vast majority of the Internet operates on open source software…
4. Exorbitant marketing and advertising budgets
Are you paying for expensive advertising – traditional or online? The chances are, you can maximise your ROI (return on investment) by taking a look at how to give your marketing campaigns a modern overhaul. Are you using social media? If not… why not?
Are you creating content for your company website or blog? If not, why not? The Internet holds vast business potential and with a bit of skill and focus, it can be a lot more effective than traditional marketing.
There’s a reason that online marketing and advertising runs into the hundreds of billions of dollars… and grows pretty much on a daily basis.
5. It’s just not possible
You’ve decided you want to do something. You call your team together to discuss it and send them off to implement it, only to find they come back with any number of reasons why it can’t be done.
The fact of the matter is that with very few exceptions, almost anything your business needs can be done. It may not be implemented in the way you imagined, but if you need it, it should be possible.
The problem here is that most often internal employees, no matter how talented, have a focused area of experience (gained doing the things they do for your company). They may not be aware that there is a cheap and inexpensive solution that already does exactly what you need.
6. More sales, less consolidation
Almost all businesses focus keenly on driving sales, lending almost no thought as to how to improve and streamline processes. Of course, driving sales is crucial, but there comes a point where it is more valuable to consolidate what you have. maximise efficiency, cut out the dead wood, plan for the future so that your business is scalable and responsive.
This positions your company for the growth that will come as you service your customers better because you are operating more efficiently. You never know you might find that you save yourself as much money improving efficiency than you would from an expensive marketing push that gives you more customers and more headaches.
Solving these problems
There’s one simple phrase that you can use to help you solve pretty much all of these issues:
Knowledge empowermentEither you and your personnel need to spend more time doing research, or you need to find a reliable, knowledgeable partner to advise you. In particular, research should be done before any implementation work is undertaken. Usually, bosses direct employees to do something; the employee starts work straight away and only research problems re-actively as they are encountered.
It is far better to look at all the available options before anyone does anything. Know and understand your options. Speak to an expert. Then go ahead and implement a solution you already understand well.
Check out these links for more information, advice and help on streamlining and improving your business:
- IT Training & Support Program
- IT & online business consulting
- Lowering your online business costs
- How to hire quality developers, Internet marketers & SEO experts
- Streamline your small business with effective decision making
- Real life transcript of an Internet marketing consult for a small business
- Turn sales into marketing into more sales
- 5 tips on repeat business marketing for SMEs
- Integrate web marketing and SEO tactics into your business
- Comprehensive Business Website Audit
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