Richard Branson, when asked “what is the most important thing in your business?” will repeatedly come back,with the same answer. PEOPLE.
This is a very valid answer and I agree with it. Your people/staff/team are the most important asset to your business (next to customers). However, I bet that all Virgin companies (now at least) have monolithic SYSTEMS in place to allow Richard’s “people” to operate effectively and communicate efficiently to both he and Virgin’s management team.
Systems can take all the parts of your business and tie it all together. If you like, systems could be seen as the tool that means your people are able to work effectively and your business is able to run smoothly. And in an every changing business environment it’s the systems you put in place now that will determine the future success of your business in such a competitive, fast-paced, technology-focused world.
So, let’s leave Richard alone and focus on how systems can help YOU improve your business:
Scalability of Systems
This is a key point. We all know that finding good people is hard and there’s large risk associated with choosing the wrong person or having an early exit from your business because the fit wasn’t right – this wastes your time and sets your business back with every unfortunate staffing decision you make. The more time you put into recruitment the better the results you’ll achieve.
It’s the same with systems, although choosing the systems you deploy within your business needs to be even more well considered – as you are investing more money up front for them and they make a bigger impact on your business when they aren’t right. The systems you choose need to be correct for your business situation now AND into the future. So be sure to look for systems that are scalable, flexible and can adapt to the changing needs of your business.
If you evaluate and implement the right system, train your people to use it properly and launch it correctly (i.e change management measures), systems, especially online systems are “infinitely” scalable and also infinitely valuable to your business.
Implementing systems to help scale your business can be as small or as large as you wish. It can be done in stages as well so that change is incremental. Some businesses start by putting systems in place to house IT services. This is made possible by companies like Amazon, Rackspace even local agents such as Ninefold. Essentially your servers and core product/s are put in a secure data bank and resources are allocated as required (space, ram, processing power) so you only pay for what you use. It’s an example of how you can implement efficiency and time and money savings for your business.
Systems to Prevent Human Error
People make mistakes. Usually not for lack of trying, but the more power that’s placed in manual calculation or “human” intervention, the higher the result of error. And most times you won’t even realise that there has been an errors made. Errors are costly for business for example if you overpay staff you are losing your business money, if you underpay staff you are exposing your business to legal action. A simple thing as a pay packet has been the undoing of many a business.
If you can take steps to limit the possibility of human intervention and the errors associated with this then you will be saving your business valuable time and money. And with those manual processes now no longer being done by your staff means they can spend more time on the things that can’t be automated like – looking at ways to grow your business, evaluating business performance, looking at business improvements, customer relations, staff mentoring etc.
Systems to Increase Accuracy
If someone asked you to add up a series of complex numbers and told you getting the answer correct was really important – would you reach for an abacus or a pen and paper? Of course not, you’d head straight for your calculator or even your computer.
There are many processes within your business that are not being done correctly because you are using outdated tools – or simply tools that weren’t built for that purpose. These days of incredible technological advancement there are systems that can help you do pretty much anything… and with the rate of competition in the market place you can find systems that match your requirements and most importantly your budget. The days of huge complicated systems with lots of expensive hardware and massive upfront costs are over. These days systems are easy, agile and cost effective.
However, it’s not just about putting systems in place. Computers, automated systems etc they are still subject to errors and it pays to remember that a computer is merely a machine and it simply does what it’s been told to do. So it’s important to remember that when you implement a system or solution it’s just as important to think about how you set it up and how you will run it then just the fact that you are putting a system in place. If your people don’t implement or use your system properly then it becomes as error prone as doing it manually.
So be sure to look for systems that take your staff into account i.e. products that are easy to learn and easy to use, products that have benefits for your staff as well as your business and look for providers that will offer good training, support and change management.
Systems to Encourage Knowledge Sharing
Generally, people are poor communicators. As your business grows, it becomes more challenging to centralise corporate knowledge, communicate expectations and enable people to understand how your business works.
With technology such as an online wiki or any such information repository, you can make information available to all your people and encourage a sharing of knowledge and development of best practice. Hugely successful Australian IT company, Atlassian assists business to do this very well by using their Confluence tool.
Systems to Allow Flexibility & Accessibility
Systems mean that your business can be securely accessed from multiple points which allows you to run parts of your business where ever you are. And even when “people” are absent, away on holidays, away sick or just not at their desk they are still connected.
My favourite part of having systems in my business is knowing that I can service my clients whether I’m in Bega, New York or in our headquarters – and I can keep my finger on the pulse of all of our businesses all from the one spot.
Systems – The Wrap Up
There are 3 key factors, (in my eyes) to a successful business:
1) Systemised Processes
They allow your business to run in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. They also allow your business to scale efficiently – and that’s the key to business growth. They also allow higher degrees of accuracy in your end product delivery and reduce the possibility of human error. Furthermore, they allow an increase in the availability of your services and therefore a higher level of service to your customers. Lastly, they allow you to easily share knowledge – many business owners/managers keep the knowledge to themselves (either because they want to or because there is nowhere sensible to put it) and that’s unfortunate because to grow you need to share and delegate… a common goal, a common vision and a common understanding of what is expected from everyone is the key.
They are the most important part of your business. It’s important to give them the right tools to do their job properly. Also you need to put the right systems in place so your business can operate in a highly efficient and effective manner – your staff will appreciate being a part of a professional business and it will set a standard for them to follow.
About Interactive Accounting – The Business & Cloud Advisors
Founded in 2009 by a team of young, enthusiastic, experienced Accountants breaking the shackles of tradition to bring online Accounting Services to your business and investments.
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We focus on improving and streamlining our internal processes with technology and not repetitive, redundant labour. No foreign outsourcing, just better technology and talented minds with a vision. Interaction & Growth with our clients.