I had a conversation with a small business owner recently about them hitting their growth ceiling – meaning they were at the stage where they grew quickly and now weren’t getting ahead anymore.
They couldn’t escape their own gravity.
We dug into the different areas of the business: leadership, team, customer, solution, and technology. And we asked some important questions:
- How’s their company leadership doing with developing a strategy and establishing focus?
- What are the strengths and potential skills gaps in the team? Do they have what they need to succeed?
- Has their customer changed? How well do they still know their customer and what that customer needs most? (Maybe the company’s solution no longer hits the mark.)
- What technologies are they using to power the business? From internal communications, to sales and marketing, to product support - how is it all functioning and working together?
These are all critical things to understand to diagnose the problem and come to a solution.
We identified two issues:
- Tech sprawl. The company had a vast number of applications and technologies across the business, and they weren’t clear about what was working well and what wasn’t.
- Team communications. The team had grown to the point where inefficiencies were popping up all the time.
The company had grown so quickly, they adopted lots of applications along the way to solve issues and make teams more efficient. Over the course of a few years, however, this list grew so large that their technologies were disjointed. It was impossible to discern what was working and what wasn’t.
A couple of examples: teams were using different project management platforms and couldn’t collaborate well, and there was no consistent way to share files. The biggest issue was, while they knew they had many apps, they didn’t know how many and which apps were being used across the company. It was a tough problem to fully understand. They didn’t have anyone on their team with IT experience to help with this.
Along with the growth of the company, they hired many new team members over the past few years. As the teams grew, they adopted their own technologies and their own processes and file shares. Now they’re at the point where the sales team doesn’t have the latest product information because they don’t know where to find it. They had one specific example of the marketing team drafting up a great series of blog posts, but they used outdated product screenshots and messaging because they were referencing outdated materials. They had to redo most of it.
It’s these types of inefficiencies, which pop up all the time, that are weighing them down. Our CTO, Brian Gagnon, is famous for the “grains of sand” analogy. A grain of sand doesn’t seem like much in and of itself, but if you have too many in the operational gears, it will come to a screeching halt!
So how do we remove those grains of sand?
We recommend starting small.
The first thing we implemented was a better support mechanism to capture issues, identify problems, and begin remediating the small but high value repeat problems.
We started with the Uprise Service Desk, which provided 24/7 support for questions and issue tracking, including analytics that helped the team understand everything from the types of problems that were occurring to the frequency and length of time each took to resolve. The Service Desk also established a knowledgebase, providing the team with a reliable and up-to-date place for information, as well as monthly reporting to give leadership insight into the most important areas for improvement.
I'll be fully transparent here – the customer was skeptical about this approach at first. They didn’t fully believe that this would make them more efficient. However, within the first month, small nagging problems got resolved, which made space for broader problem resolutions. It also gave us insight into what was working and what wasn’t, so we could fully diagnose what was causing their inefficiencies. We also captured inventory of their technology assets and began documenting their core infrastructure and business processes.
Within the first 30 days, we discovered that they had more than 70 web applications that were no longer used. We saved them more than $97,000 per year by eliminating unneeded applications and licenses. This consolidation also allowed their team leaders to start aligning on processes and best practices for using their technology and tools, such as how to share files, file structure, project management platforms, and overall communications flows. While this was a larger outcome than where we started, this was possible by removing just a few of the grains of sand.
If you’re feeling the grains of sand clogging up the operational gears like they were and want to explore how to get things moving more efficiently, please reach out. We would love to chat!
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