Don’t Confuse Systems with Software!

01 Nov 2017

Alistair Badman looks at why systems and processes are so important for small businesses and how by not accepting the limitations or imposed processes of an off-the-shelf system, small business owners can gain greater control over their data, customers and efficiencies and reap the benefits as a result.

When we first start talking to a potential client, we don’t talk about software, we talk about systems.

Without a solid grasp of the systems and processes that a company uses to deliver their product or service, any software implementation is likely doomed to failure.

Now, I’m sure you all have systems in your business because, without them, the result would be chaos.

Without good systems, the people and processes in your business would be all over the place, leading to inconsistencies in the product or service you are selling and an underwhelming experience for your customers.

So what are systems?

Pretty much every small business starts on a spreadsheet, you have your idea and the first customers, and you start to track what it is you’re selling to whom. Understandably at this stage, the focus is all on growing the business, increasing sales and striving for profitability.

But as your business grows, you add people and additional processes, it gets increasingly hard to stay on top of day to day activities. More time is spent on day-to-day administration and less on serving your existing customers and winning new business.

The truth is you all have systems in your business. You would never have got to where you are today without them. But those systems have probably evolved, not been designed.

You might even recognise that they are not the best they could be, but it can be a bit overwhelming to think about re-implementing them, with all the attendant disruption that would entail.

So why bother?

Save time

Allowing you to get more of the right things done. Automate repetitive tasks and free up time to focus on the activities that really make a difference to your business.

Take back control

Feel like it’s you driving the business forward, not being dragged along for the ride. As much as you might want you cannot do everything in your business. You have to delegate and by systemising your processes you ensure that you remain in control of them.

Create efficiency in the business

Having defined procedures makes your operation more efficient, no need to re-invent the wheel every time there is an issue.

Empower your employees

By giving employees in your company a framework in which to operate you empower them. You no longer need to watch over them to ensure they are working in the way you want them to. The processes you have put in place ensure that for you.

Deliver consistency to your customer

All great businesses are consistent in their delivery of a great product. As hard as you are paddling under the water consistent, predictable interactions with your customers will reassure them and increase the chances of repeat business.

Quantifying value

Could someone else step in and run your business? Or is all the value in the knowledge you have accumulated and the processes that only you know? By implementing systems you take yourself out of the business and make your business a far more attractive prospect for acquisition or sale.

Systems are vital to the success of any business. Why not start small, with a process like an enquiry management, or customer service enquiries. Map out what you’re doing now and what your ideal process would be. Start to systemise your business and reap the rewards.

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Ditch the spreadsheets and provide your team with the tools they need to make better inventory decisions.