Build some systems before it is too late!
Your new business development teams are out there selling and there seems to be a voracious appetite for your product, you are adding client after client and your teams are doing a great job serving them in a way that keeps them satisfied and willing to remain with you. To cope with the demand, you are hiring staff to help you manage the influx. They manage to keep on top of it all and do a great job.
But beneath it all, you know that as you increase your revenue, you are also increasing your costs, you are not utilising the chance to optimise and realise the fruits of the labour. The tools that you rely on are not being used effectively, if at all. All company knowledge you have been building remains in a few people’s heads. Nothing is automated, that can be and training relies on someone downloading what is in their brain and transferring it into someone else’s, on an ad-hoc, ‘when I feel like it’ basis. This can’t be sustainable, it is certainly not optimal and at some point you will find it harder to find staff as great as those you have right now.
You may find that resolving this issue is not urgent, but building ‘a cathedral’ cannot rest solely on an increasing sales funnel as the foundation. You want to take customers on an enjoyable journey, on board them into your systems, that feels like evolution rather than revolution. Above all, you want to make sure that their experience is consistent and of excellent quality. Maintaining quality when everyone is driving full steam ahead is one of the biggest challenges, but taking the time to look at how you want to use your systems and building robust processes is always a the right answer.
When your team is still small, the cracks that it has will not appear on the surface as communication happens across desks and on the fly, but as the teams grow and you have more flexible approaches to how people work, these cracks will get bigger and more visible, until you find yourself losing your biggest and best customers.
Putting systems and processes in place needn’t be onerous and you don’t need to try and come up with new and interesting ways of doing things. Sometimes the old favourites are the best. What you can do, is spend time listening to those that spend most of their time dealing with whatever area of the business you are focussing on. They often have some of the best approaches to systemising their tasks, often they just don’t realise it and need a bit of help identifying their efficiencies. Once you have identified some nuggets of productivity you can begin to implement them.
We have found that if you share the fact that they came from their peers in a similar position, people are much more likely to buy-in to a process than those that have ‘come from the top’.