It is a fact that there is no sudden death in business. Businesses often die in a slow and painful manner which is usually caused by issues such as operational inefficiencies, leakages/wastage, lack of control, wrong decision caused by lack or wrong information/data etc. The danger in these issues is that they start very small and negligible but like every cancerous cell, they grow, multiply and continue eating up the business until it eventually dies.
From my experience in working with and providing solutions to businesses in different industries and sectors of the economy, I will highlight some of the common factors or practices I have observed that lead to these issues and why you have to kill them as soon as possible if you have them in your business.
Not Enforcing Controls
While most businesses have (should have) controls in their processes as regards the use of resources, authorization, approval limits etc., what is very common is that most of these controls are either not enforced or are sidestepped in many instances. If this is the case in your business, put a stop to it as it can kill your business. Excuses or justifications such as urgency, the level of personnel involved etc., why controls are not enforced should be seriously discouraged. Control does not only provide the ability to effectively manage resources, it also blocks loopholes that can lead to intentional or unintentional abuse, leakage and wastage.
Paper Based Requests/Approvals
If you still use those booklets/papers for requests, vouchers, work orders, payment requisitions etc in your business, you have to kill them ASAP. Apart from the cost of paper, printing, handling and storing these booklets, it requires physical presence in the office in order to fill/submit or approve them which often times cause delay in your operations. This is even worse if you have remote staff, who have to come in to get these approvals as they will waste time and resources in the journey to/from the office. Also, it is tedious to retrieve, check and analyze data in these papers over time to get the required information.
Ineffective Email Collaboration
To alleviate the issues associated with the use of physical paper/booklets for requests and approvals, some businesses just adopts the “email it” or “scan and email it” approach. Aside from the distraction of having to often check and respond to emails, searching and retrieving information in emails even for experienced email users and experts could be tedious and time consuming, especially for staff that receives hundreds of emails. This is why email as a collaboration tool is discouraged as it can increase the time spent retrieving information, which results in inefficient business operation. Have you been frustrated looking for that attachment in an email you were “CCed” some months ago; that is the proof that email is not an effective collaboration tool.
Working In Silos
Silos exist in a business when information is not shared or not easily accessible between different departments or units. If a unit has to request and wait for weeks or months for information or report from another unit, it does not only affect productivity, it also affects morale which can greatly hamper your business operation. The effect of making the right business decision cannot be overemphasized especially when backed by correct and complete information. A business that is not making the right decisions as quickly as possible is a business that will not grow and a business not growing is a business that is dying.
Know And Track Those “Little Costs”
Some businesses do not keep and track some costs that they feel are small and negligible. This is actually one huge blind spot that can result in so much leakage and wastage. The proverb that “little drops of water make a mighty ocean” perfectly captures what this can lead to. From experience, there is always this shock when these “little costs” are tracked over a period of time with the usual question like “What are we doing spending this much “X” amount doing this small “Y” thing over this period”. The point, therefore, is to keep and track every cost as those “little costs” can actually be causing so much damage to your business.
The question then is what can be done and what is the solution to these inefficient practices and blind spots. The answer is software, i.e. deployment and use of the right software that will power and support your business operations end to end. The software must have features that will implement and improve internal controls, capture & streamline requests/approvals, provide remote accessibility via the internet, easy collaboration, notification & reminders. It must be easy to use, centralized with role-based access restrictions and with simplified data capture and retrieval.
One of such software I will recommend is Instanta Application Suite by SysServe Solutions Ltd, an indigenous software with modules such as Inventory/Asset Management, Maintenance Management, Fleet Management, Task Management, Expense/Payment Requisition, Invoicing etc. Using Instanta in your business will definitely empower you to eliminate these inefficiencies in your operations.
To know more about Instanta, please visit www.sysservesolutions.com