Part 3 in a 4-part series
This is part 3 in a 4-part series examining the effect business software can have on company growth.
Leading companies are constantly searching for strategies on how to reduce costs, or potential technologies that can replace outdated manual functions. You must have a baseline of your costs to measure against before you undertake any Process Improvement initiative. Process Improvement is a critical factor in agile and growth oriented organizations, and software that does not allow or facilitate such measurements will make your company less responsive. Innovation requires responsiveness, and measurement needs to be the guide for growth-promoting innovation. Without a baseline it is impossible to determine whether leveraging technology would promote efficiency and fiscal effectiveness to process improvement and innovation, or simply add cost.
Process changes that may occur as the business grows are clearly not included in the decision regarding the initial software selection. All business owners know things will change – they must – but few can predict what will change, how, or when, and none can design the reporting support they need from their software until those changes do occur. As a result, software support for process improvement and task delegation changes must be evaluated whenever changes to process or procedure are planned. The software must provide ways to measure the success of a change so the business owners can track their success and respond to negative impacts before they become too costly.
Almost every business has had some processes that were once handled by the founder(s) of the company shift to others as growth and staff expansions occur. When these changes occur the business owner may want to permit or limit access to certain information – such as financial reporting – by employee. Many business owners may be surprised to learn that the software they have in place will permit multiple users, but not allow the owner to grant or deny access to sensitive information by user. The most popular software for startup companies is designed with the assumption that the business owner(s) would be the only one(s) handling most if not all functions or that all staff will have access to all information within the system. As more users need access to some, but not all, of the information and reports, it may become more cost-effective to implement a new system than to try to patch an older one, if that is even possible.
In addition, automating processes and tasks is another area for which business owners may find a new system implementation is more cost-effective than patching an old system. This is also true when changes in process reflect the expansion of business to global markets or changes to laws governing business conduct. Here, too, owners may find the software in use needs extensive patching or additional modules to support new tasks or maintain data security. This was the experience of many businesses after the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley, but it can also occur with a much more local business decision, such as bringing credit card processing in-house or creating an online storefront. With the increased attention on Mega-Data, privacy legislation may be on the horizon, so business owners should consider instituting a practical “Evaluate Early and Often” operations protocol to ensure they remain compliant.
Jack Bleiberg is a Business Growth and Productivity Expert who can help you determine if the business software you are using is optimal for your business growth goals. Contact Jack today for a free consultation.