There’s a saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But what about when it’s not broken, but it’s also not ideal? I had a conversation recently with one of our clients that could be summed up as follows:
‘My operations aren’t broken, but I know they can be improved.’
Let me give you a bit of background. The client has a multi-million-pound business selling over twenty thousand products, with individual pricing per customer. Sales were good and the business was growing. Operations was a finely tuned machine. It worked.
However, the entire operation ran from one spreadsheet. One. Single. Spreadsheet.
And you immediately get it: not broken; not ideal. Things can be improved.
Now, this client is savvy. That spreadsheet was meticulously maintained, frequently backed-up and very well looked after. This is not a horror story where I’m going to tell you, ‘They called us just in time … it could have all gone horribly wrong at any moment.’ I have stories like that, but I won’t share them here because I don’t believe in scare tactics. It’s a cheap trick.
You see, if you’re in business, you know if something is wrong. Mission-critical systems that are vulnerable likely wake you up at night. You don’t need a scare story, but you probably do need a plan.
The truth is that this business was successful, and everything worked well. The team knew what they were doing and how everything worked, and it all ticked along nicely. Sure, there were a few frustrations, but nothing that pushed the team to the brink of revolt or prevented the business from being profitable. They could have kept on going like that for years.
So, why would this business owner and his leadership team seek out an alternative?
Simple: they believed there was a better way.
They were ready for change. They knew it might not be straightforward, but they were committed to the growth of their business and wanted to do things in the right way.
They didn’t know what that looked like, or what was possible, or how to get started, but they were sure they could do more in less time, and grow faster. They just needed a system that could keep up.
Their first step was to talk to the people who knew what was possible – that meant us, and other digital transformation advisors. They needed to learn what they could realistically achieve.
This is where, I believe, we shine as a team. We dig into the detail to get to know a business, its processes, the products and most importantly the team. Every business is different, and we avoid making assumptions, even if we’ve seen something broadly similar before. We won’t try to pigeonhole you – oh, this is a type A business so they need product 3. There’s none of that.
We ask lots of questions, and then we ask some more. We don’t do this to test the resilience of the client, but to really dig deep into the motivations, priorities, frustrations and more. We like to get under the skin of the business. Only then can we begin to discuss what an alternative way of working would look like with tools built by our team.
So, how does this story end?
The business now has a fully integrated stock management system, with automated customer notifications, that connects directly with their finance function. So, stock is always up to date, customers are up to date, and billing never misses a beat.
The story isn’t over yet. The business is already discussing their next phase of growth and the tools and systems that will support them.
And we’re delighted to be on this journey with them. Because, for us, it’s never about selling a system and walking away. Business growth and system development is a journey, and we stay with our clients, training and supporting them and helping them to improve as they grow.
Our goal is to help you improve your systems and processes with technology that works. To do that effectively, we need to know you, and your business, on a deep level. Investing time in understanding your challenges, everyday operations and business aspirations is time well spent – we’ve demonstrated over and over that this is the key to true transformation.
If that sounds like the kind of relationship you’re looking for, get in touch.