What do you see your business doing 12 months from now, when we’re out of the recession and making the upturn?
If you’re like many U.S. businesses, you will be playing catch up to where you were before you cut staff and put projects on hold to reduce costs.
You don’t want to be behind when the economy begins strengthening and coming out of recession. Many companies are going through tough times right now, but the smart ones are positioning themselves for growth so they are ready when the economy recovers.
Four Problems You Don’t Want to Have to Deal With
What happens when companies grow before they have the processes and technology in place to support the growth?
1. Manual processes require a revenue-proportional number of additional employees to process.
Adding 25% more employees for every 25% increase in revenue gets expensive. Sometimes employee counts grow even faster as additional personnel are brought on for quality assurance (a.k.a. error correction before the customer sees it).
2. Manual processes begin to break as volume increases.
Having a core group of employees familiar with each customer’s specific rules works great until you have to double the staff. It quickly becomes impossible to educate the larger group on all the intricacies and special handling for each customer.
3. Processing time increases as volume increases.
As exceptions handling and extra review time increases, the time to process a new customer order, process a lab request or bill a customer increases. Besides creating customer dissatisfaction, you may be slowing down your receivables and other income.
4. Systems no longer support the level of service now required.
Systems may not be flexible enough to support the new service or product requirements you offer, or require your staff to create workarounds to “force” the systems to work. New customers may require levels of availability, particularly larger customers and those in regulated industries (health care, financials, etc.).
Four Effective Solutions You Can Put into Place Now
1. Take advantage of this slower time.
Streamline your processes while your employees have down time. They can focus now, but once it starts to get busy they won’t be available. Even if you can’t commit to a project timeline, staff can start writing down unique situations systems don’t handle well.
2. Assess your current situation.
An outside third party perspective that is familiar with operational and technology standards can help you develop a strategy tailored to your business strategy. A frequent bonus is a reduction in spending on some items, which can then fund new investments to support your business goals.
3. Focus on software projects now.
Small and mid-sized businesses can rarely afford to dedicate resources to these efforts, yet in downturns, more employee time is available which contributes to the success of these projects. If you need new software, look into Software as a Service (SaaS) which doesn’t require a big capital outlay.
4. Evaluate new infrastructure options.
If your technology infrastructure (servers, network, PCs) is expensive, unreliable or isn’t as available as you need it, review your options. It may be the time to align with an outsourcer. It is also a great time to negotiate discounts with existing vendors.
When the economy is tough, businesses often focus on the short term and stop preparing for growth. Instead, focus on the long view in parallel with managing the day-to-day realities of your business. Begin to implement these four quick, effective solutions now to get your company ready and positively positioned for the coming upturn in the economy. You’ll also have the extra bonus of focusing employees on a positive effort rather than all the negative news.
About The Guest Author: Laura Pettit Rusick helps small and mid-sized businesses enable growth, reduce costs and improve efficiency by optimizing business processes and technology. For those interested in benefiting from business process efficiency projects, sign up to receive the PDF “Ten Critical Success Factors for Optimizing Business Processes“. Laura’s website is http://www.optsolutionsinc.com.