Are you prepared and using the right software tools to meet your business challenges head on?

The business processes that currently support your company’s operations are continually stressed as new concepts are introduced or new challenges present themselves.   Your business starts to struggle under the complexity of its own growth, you begin to feel that it is time to re-evaluate the software tools that support your infrastructure but the expense of replacing the existing software tools introduces doubt.  Growing your company is expensive and funding change is always difficult to justify as fear of the unknown plays on the decision and then the reality of many other important and pressing needs “nudge you”,  also demanding a share of these very limited resources, money and time.  You never want to invest in “costs to the business” before you have to, but at the same time, you don’t want to wait until the business is experiencing a disaster before you buy insurance.

How do you know that now is the time to invest in new software tools and not a year from now?

Here are 5 things to look for within your business and depending on how much these are impacting your business it may be your time to change.  This is in no way an exhaustive list but it is a good start.

  1. Using other systems to help get what you need. The truth is that no matter how good your business software tools are, no business processes and the subsequent business automation can avoid the use of some occasional tool that can deliver a special report not supported by your software. External reports, Excel spreadsheets, or a minor manual process. Do you have many of these? With each of these introduced you are adding more and more complexity to your business Process. External reports, which is the current one?  Excel Spreadsheets and manual processes, you are playing with the known inefficiency of re-keying data; then there is the cost of delays between when the data in one system is changed and when that data is updated in the next system.  These are all inefficiencies that contribute costs to your bottom line.
  2. Unable to predict if your jobs will be profitable. You are involved in similar types of projects but to predict costs across each project cannot be done to a comfortable degree of certainty. You see unexpected margin fluctuations and/or roller coaster billable utilization becoming typical of your jobs when delivered. Worse yet, it did not become obvious until it is too late to do anything to fix it, typically after the job is completed is when you know if you made money.
  3. You have many customizations integrated or 3rd party applications added in to get the functionality you need. In the beginning you picked your business software based on your need at that time.  Since then, your team became more mature software users and now can better leverage software tools, but the tools you own did not have the ability to meet the demand identified by your users. You also began identifying areas of the business process that would benefit from automation as requirements became clearer. Depending on how long you have had this software and how quickly you are growing; you could have 5 to 15+ “3rd party” software pieces to manage.  It may be time to simply get a single solution that starts off with these features and remove the costs you are incurring for managing and supporting all these pieces?
  4. “Near misses”, something bad that “almost” happened: Almost losing money on a project; Almost quoting at the wrong margin; Almost ordering and delivering the wrong equipment; Almost scheduling the services team to be on-site on the wrong date; Almost forgetting to invoice the customer for a portion or “extras” of the project; and Almost overlooking a key customer support issue; Almost forgetting to invoice for something delivered? Are you seeing these near misses often in the company?  Are you sure you caught all? How much do you think this is costing?
  5. “Double Checking”, an often overlooked cost to business is the amount of time employees waste double checking because there is no confidence in the information they had initially. Is/was it the “right” data? It may be taking a long time for your systems to process the data into the reports you expect. Do your top producers complain about spending time checking information because they cannot rely on what your system says? Does your team run to the warehouse to check stock even though you have inventory automated?

There is never a convenient time for putting new business processes and business process automation software in place. It is always going to be disruptive, cost money and require employees to learn how to do things differently.

Will the business process automation software tool that got you to where you are now get you to where you need to be – your software could be out dated; your software could be under-resourced as far as functionality to meet your current and growing needs.

If your business is growing and/or you are seeing one or more of the critical signs above showing up in your business on a consistent basis, then now might be the time to consider making a change.