The dog days are over, so you better run, and run simple. The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of your business and make plans for the coming year. What better way to set yourself up for success in 2018 by making improvements in your business now? Start by getting rid of the bottlenecks in your business!
Do you feel like this these days? To quote Bilbo Baggins, “I feel – thin, sort of stretched like butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday – a very long holiday…”
Dealing with bottlenecks
Bottlenecks cause low morale, missed deadlines, angry customers, lost revenue, and regulatory problems. How do bottlenecks even come about anyway? Have a look at the most common business bottlenecks:
- Confusing processes
- Understaffed IT department
- Too many processes
- Colleagues miss deadlines
- Technology that is too rigid
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this, given that every industry comes with its own set of processes, rules, and complexities. However, working with software which is intuitive and easy to learn can help your staff out.
Modern business information systems, usually referred to as ERP systems, will have features that have great visual representations of your key business processes. These will help your staff to locate the documents and information required on their own with minimal disruption to other members of your team.
Understaffed IT department
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) rarely have a large IT department. More often than not, a single IT staff member is depended on for everything technology-related, from keeping the company network running to troubleshooting the office computers and software. That’s a lot of stuff to handle!
So while your one person IT team is tinkering about with one issue on your business management software, he/she can’t resolve another issue that you’re facing. Technical issues pile up and eventually overwhelm the poor IT guy.
How do you get past this?
Hiring more than one IT staff is probably out of your budget, and besides, you may not require that excess capacity all year round.
The great thing about running your systems on the cloud is the shift of responsibility for technical issues to your service provider. After all, who knows better about their own software? Since all hardware is on their end, you don’t even face the disruption of service staff heading down to your premises to try and fix things.
Too many processes
Nobody likes dealing with numerous processes, especially when there are roadblocks to completing each one (be it slow systems or multiple levels of red tape). The workbench feature comes in handy here too, helping you and your colleagues figure out which processes are excessive, unnecessary, and holding things up.
The fact that all your employees can work within the same system with a single shared source of information, also means less lag time and miscommunications occurring between departments.
Colleagues fail to meet deadlines
There are so many reasons this could happen that it can be hard to pinpoint the exact causes. Who knows, you could be the reason your employees/colleagues are failing to meet deadlines!
Have you or your managers set unrealistic deadlines?
Does the fault lie with your employees/colleagus, or yourself/your managers? Maybe that angry email from a disappointed customer has been sitting in your inbox for 2 weeks while you were on vacation, and you assigned someone to come up with a solution within the day. Or you plain forgot about an important submission date and want a quick fix right now.
In fact, it could be that you’ve just assigned so many tasks to your employee/colleague without realising it! If you’re running an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system like SAP Business One, you can create and assign activities to your staff/colleagues and keep track of them in one place.
Even a free tool like Trello can come in handy, the exception being that it is difficult to link to different documents and features in one place.
Could it be that they really are incompetent after all?
Sometimes, try as you might, some things just don’t come naturally to you. You might be an amazing artist, but are unable to grasp basic mathematics. On the other hand, you may be an incredible data scientist, but terrible at customer relationship management. The same goes for your colleagues/employees. Don’t write them off so fast!
Work things through with them. Communicate and try to find their strong suit, and stop assigning them tasks that they will fail miserably at – you’re only making yourself even more frustrated with the resulting bottlenecks!
Technology that is too rigid
I don’t know about you, but I am often stunned at the ways technology can simply fail. Maybe we’re too spoiled by smartphones and related devices which seem to make everything possible. We expect a certain level of sophistication when working with technology in the workplace, and the ability to customise things to suit our needs seems like a no brainer.
Remember your single person IT team? He/she cannot be creating customised reports for you all the time! This can be a problem when working with software developed in-house, that doesn’t come with the necessary documentation and help needed for you to do things your way.
Fortunately. modern business information systems have multiple features that help you customise the solution to your requirements, a report writer to build your own reports intuitively and analytics dashboards to help you get access to information very quickly.
This story is based on a previous blog post written by me and published here.