Table of Contents
- Is your organization living up to its potential?
- Are Your Business Systems on Speaking Terms?
- 1. You Lack a Centralized System for Storing and Managing Business Information
- 2. You’re Not Using an Effective Integration Platform
- 3. You Rely on Manual Data Entry More Than You Should
- 4. Your Teams Duplicate Work (And Work Secretively)
- 5. The Web of Responsibility (And Maybe Even the Chain of Command) Isn’t Clear
- 6. Your Employees Spend a Lot of Their Time Looking for Information
- Your Business Systems Should Row in the Same Direction
Is your organization living up to its potential?
It’s a simple question, but an important one. And an uncomfortable one. Often, it leads business owners and executives to the inescapable conclusion that they’re not on strong footing. That they’re in a weaker position than assumed.
That’s not the end of the world, at least not yet. But it does require an urgent response.
One such response is to conduct a top-to-bottom review of business systems for proper alignment and fit-to-scale.
In other words, a gut check that your current mix of business systems is adequate to address your company’s present and future needs. And that those systems work together as they should.
Chances are, this review will uncover some problems. If your company has grown recently, it’s likely that not all of its business systems are on speaking terms. If they work together at all, they don’t work together very well.
What causes misalignment in the systems and processes businesses rely on to get work done? Often, there’s more than one factor to blame. Let’s take a look at six reasons your business systems might not be on speaking terms and what you can do about each.
It sounds so basic. And yet the lack of a centralized framework for storing, managing, and distributing information is a common cause of organizational inefficiency.
Yes, your employees use email and perhaps a workplace chat or project management platform to communicate and collaborate. These tools are helpful but not adequate to sustain the robust information flows and data visibility modern businesses need.
To do that, your organization needs an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. ERP integration offers multidimensional data visibility and insight, from the most granular level to the whole-organization “view from orbit.” It provides insight into workloads across the organization, helping teams that rarely communicate directly understand their respective responsibilities. Doing so enables access control to ensure employees have access only to the data they need to do their jobs effectively.
If that sounds like something you need, you know what to do.
An effective ERP system can help businesses catch up from behind the tech curve. What about businesses that feel as if they’re drowning in tech?
It’s possible to have too many tech solutions at your business’s disposal. If your teams aren’t utilizing them consistently or as intended, they’re dead weight. But the more likely problem is that those tech solutions aren’t working together as they can.
That’s where integration platforms come in. In smaller organizations, the more cost-effective solution is actually an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), a more nimble alternative. Either way, your integration platform’s job is to connect your business applications. That allows data to flow freely between them.
A well-managed iPaaS solution addresses many of the productivity-related issues on this list, like duplication of work and chronic information-seeking.
Data entry is not inherently inefficient. However, excessive data entry is often a sign that an organization’s systems and processes aren’t working together well.
As we’ve already seen, solutions like an iPaaS can reduce the need for manual data entry. Moreover, the root causes of data entry reliance often lie with data-generating systems and processes themselves. Overreliance on legacy systems that don’t automatically collect and synthesize data could be weighing your business down.
Poorly aligned organizations tend to give rise to information and responsibility “silos” as they grow. At minimum, these silos are inefficient, leading to duplicate work and wasting valuable resources. Often, they lead to something worse: secretive work processes that teams or individual employees guard jealously.
When it concerns information and processes that can help others do their jobs, secretiveness is counterproductive. More than that, it’s toxic to an organization’s culture, undermining the foundations of mutual trust. And on a more practical level, it often results in version control issues that result in costly mistakes down the line.
Organizations work better together when there’s no question of who’s responsible for what. From paid interns up to C-level executives, every point on the web of responsibility should be clearly defined. So, it goes without saying, should the chain of command.
This isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s often not the case. In the name of staying lean, many organizations lose focus of best practices around accountability and process ownership. They load up employees with too many responsibilities, assign overlapping duties, or simply don’t clarify expectations. This leads to disorganization, confusion, and inefficiency.
Efficient employees and teams should spend less time looking for information and more time coming up with answers.
The root causes of chronic information-seeking vary, but some of the issues already raised here may be to blame: Information silos, poor data integration, unclear roles and responsibilities leading reports to ask the same questions of multiple bosses.
The solution is simple enough. Work back from the principle that every employee should have all the information needed to do their job. Then break down the barriers impeding how and where that information flows.
A cohesive business is a profitable business.
That’s why your business systems should work together, not at cross-purposes. You’ve invested too much in your enterprise to watch a technological tangle lay it low.
Fortunately, as we’ve seen, it’s not difficult to identify and correct the symptoms of misaligned business systems. Maybe your business systems aren’t on speaking terms because you’re not using a central integration platform. Perhaps you’re still relying on localized legacy processes that don’t play well with cloud-based solutions. Or maybe you lack the in-house technical expertise to knit everything together as it should be.
Whatever the case, you know what needs to happen next. You need to identify the root causes of this misalignment and make a plan to correct them.
If that means investing in a new generation of business systems that more easily work together, so be it. It’s an investment in the future of your company. And it could be what secures its relevance in the market for years to come.