Improving Your Systems During COVID-19
It is highly likely that if you are in business right now you have been impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic in some way. Some businesses have been forced to close entirely and many more will be indirectly affected by a slowing global economy.
As with most difficult situations in business there is often opportunity to be found… if you look hard enough.
In this article I wanted to share some tips and ideas on how you can use a potential slower time in business to review and improve your processes and specifically, your systems.
Time Is Now On Your Side
If your business is still operational today, it is likely you have more of something than you did prior to COVID-19 – time!
If your business is experiencing an operational slow down, now is the perfect time to review processes and systems and identify possible improvements.
One of the biggest and most common pressures of implementing new business systems is the disruption it causes to general business operations. It takes staffing resources away from normal tasks, puts pressure on financial and operational outputs and slows down business in general.
This is why now is a really great time to look at making change. If you are operationally quieter than usual, the typical disruption your business would face will be lessened. This means any change you implement will be smoother, faster and deliver a better return.
Look For Weak Spots
So where to start? Take some time to analyse your current processes, especially those that are connected to your software systems. Are there any manual processes that have crept in overtime?
An indication of this might be a spreadsheet that a team member has designed to overcome a gap in system functionality or perhaps a lack of integration between separate systems.
Identifying weak spots or ‘pain points’ is the first step in implementing successful technology change. The areas you choose to tackle don’t always have to be large and sweeping. Small, incremental change can have a positive long term effect.
Improving your systems also does not mean replacing entire software packages. It could simply mean improving a report or even providing your team with some additional training.
Automate & Accelerate
It is likely you find that some of your current system processes are cumbersome, or involve repetitive user interactions. These types of processes are perfect for automation workflows. If you have a fairly modern system, chances are they already provide some functionality for automation. Some examples might be;
- Automating sales or enquiry emails via your CRM.
- Bulk dispatching sales orders rather than processing them individually.
- Setting up better pricing models in your ERP solution to avoid manual keying of pricing.
- Create automated tasks to remind team members to complete important steps.
- Setting up scheduled social media posts or email newsletters.
- Activating an Employee Self Service Portal in your payroll software.
There are nearly endless opportunities to automate processes using software. Start by finding those few processes that have a heavy manual component. Then explore options within your software to systemise those processes.
Out With The Old
While focusing on smaller system and process changes is a great start and presents lower risk, the fact may remain that your current systems are just not up to scratch. Perhaps you have been aware of this in your business for some time, but due to daily pressures and operational commitments, changing systems has been to much of a daunting task.
Now could be a “once in a business lifetime” opportunity to grab this time of forced downtime and make the larger and more complex changes your business needs. If done correctly, this could set your business up for an explosive re-emergence when life returns to a new “normal”.
That being said, replacing critical business systems is no small undertaking, no matter the environment. It is still critical to analyse your business requirements and understand what outcomes the new system is delivering for your business. Research systems, speak to implementation experts and make informed decisions.
If you make intelligent decisions you can leverage the COVID-19 “downtime” into a huge business upside!