5 tips for race ready systems
Running a business is very similar to competing in any form of race. It’s all about preparation, training, confidence and ensuring all your equipment is fit for the job; in short, making sure that every element can perform to it’s optimum.
Elite Athletes have teams of people to support them in their training, health, nutrition and equipment. Similarly, larger businesses have multiple departments of experts to ensure everything runs smoothly. However, the club athletes, or those competing for fun have to rely on themselves to ensure that everything is fit for purpose; as is the same for SMBs.
Whatever sport you are involved in equipment plays a major part. It is therefore critical that you check your kit and continue to check it, not just for major events, but also every training session; the last thing you want to do is pick up an injury due to poor equipment.
The same is true in business, continually checking your equipment will ensure you remain able to operate at your optimum.
So, when it comes to your software and systems how often does the question of ‘fit for purpose’ make the agenda of your board meetings or even get discussed across the coffee machine?
Our experience would be that it’s not often enough so here are our 5 tips for getting your systems in shape this summer:
Start and finish line
Critical to any success is understanding what your goals are and what you need to be able to do to achieve them. Running a marathon is very different from the 100m. So it’s obviously important to understand the enormity of the task; where are you now and where do you want to get to. A comprehensive and objective review of these will help to identify any gaps that might exist and what you need to do to overcome them.
Most sports rely on some form of equipment, let’s stick with the running analogy and assume it’s trainers. Now it would be easy to assume that running shoes and trainers are all the same, but what about fit, weight, instep, pronation, hip roll; this list goes on. Get the wrong shoes and you could be in for a world of pain (literally).
The same is true of the systems that support your business. Like the running shoes, once you understand what sort of running you’ll be doing and over what sort of distance and terrain you can make a far more informed decision about which ones best suit. Start by working out what you need and then audit what’s currently in place; again looking for gaps in technology, processes and efficiency.
Success in sport is often achieved by being as efficient at what you do as possible. For runners this is the efficient use of all their resources to ensure they last the distance and have reserves when needed. For motor racing aficionados, it’s all about getting the car or bike to run as efficiently as possible, making the most of fuel, engine and tyres whilst minimizing drag.
In business, the ability to run as efficiently as possible clearly reduces time and costs but it is also likely to increase the speed of response when dealing with customers or ensuring data is available for key business decisions. Efficient working practices can also reduce frustrations and increase staff satisfaction. Your business software needs to support this and allow people to operate at their optimum without the need to concern themselves with inadequate systems.
It’s very easy for athletes to consider that they have trained for years and know everything there is to know about their chosen sport and how best to perform. But clearly there are always new ideas and innovation. Consider sports people who have changed trainers or changed their regime and gone on to achieve further success. Think Andy Murray and his relationship with Ivan Lendl and the Amelie Mauresmo, both brought something to the table and both clearly had different ideas.
When it comes to software and systems, the landscape changes constantly. Just because something has worked for you in the past doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to work in the future and certainly there is no guarantee that systems you had 5 or 10 years ago will now be the best performing for your business.
Continually review your systems and software and seek guidance as to how things have or are changing and how you can leverage this change. A great example is cloud services. Ten years ago who would have thought that we’d now be accessing all our software and core business systems over the internet and we’d no longer have a room full of servers, UPSs and back-up devices. The key is to embrace and understand new technology and ideas and how these can impact on your business. Innovate with new ideas and measure their success. Clearly we are not advocating change for changes sake but equally we are suggesting that legacy systems may have worked for you in the past, but question whether they do moving forward.
Preparation for any event involves training hard and practicing every aspect of your performance. But athletes clearly don’t leave it until the day of the race to understand how all the training and practice is paying off. They will have all manner of real-time data to analyse and understand what’s working and what’s not.
The same is true in business. Why would you leave it until the end of the month to see whether it’s been a good one or not. Ensuring your software and systems give you the ability to analyse accurate and comprehensive data in real-time can transform a business’s ability to adapt to what’s going on; a poor sales month can perhaps be averted if you know early enough; resources can be put in place to support upcoming projects if you know early enough; customer service issues can be pro-actively managed, rather than waiting for the customer to call, if you know early enough.
So, know that we know all these things what do we do. Well, continuing the above theme our recommendation would be to get a coach. Find a company that can help you undertake these tasks and provide the objectivity and innovation required to take you software and systems to the next level of supporting your growing business. A company that will work with you to develop new systems, enhancements to old ones or simply integrate systems to work together. A company that will monitor the success of your systems and tailor them to suit. A company that will challenge you in every aspect of your systems performance, eeking out the efficiencies that will make your business run smoother and more profitably.