Four Critical Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Existing Business Software

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 The business software that got your company to 10-15 employees is probably not going to scale to get you to 25, 50 or 100+ employees.

In the growth path of every company, senior executives start to get the sense that things aren’t working as smoothly as they used to. The business starts to struggle under the weight of its own growing size and comTime to change, 290 x 192plexity.  It is time to re-evaluate your business software to confirm what's needed to support future growth.

There are always competing objectives for funds, so you don’t want to invest in new business software before you have to, but at the same time, you don’t want to wait until the business is on fire before you start making changes.

So how do you know that now is the time to invest in new business software?

Four critical signs that your company needs to change your business software:

 1) Senior management keeps getting blindsided

Your executive team keeps getting blindsided by shortfalls in expected revenue, unexpected margin fluctuations and roller coaster billable utilization.

These are signs of one thing: what was expected isn’t happening according to plan. Worse yet, senior management isn’t finding out until it's too late to do anything to fix it.

This issue can be traced back to one cause: siloed data in multiple different business software applications. A change in one department that affects 3-4 other departments isn’t getting effectively communicated to all of the affected stakeholders.

In a small company people yell change information across cubicle partitions, send e-mails, or spread the news in the lunch room. But as the company gets larger, it's just a matter of time until a change doesn’t get communicated effectively and chaos ensues.

Moving to business software that encompasses modules for all departments (CRM, Quoting, Order fulfillment, Project Management, Help Desk, etc) ensures that all information/data is in one place. Changes in one area will immediately be visible to all affected departments. Management will have proactive visibility when things start heading in the wrong direction, while there's still time to do something about it.

2) Re-keying of data

The more times your team re-keys data, the more likely it is that those re-keying efforts are hampering visibility, productivity and accuracy of data.

Common areas of re-keying would be:

  • Between the quote and procurement system
  • Between quote revisions and opportunity forecast
  • Between the quote budget and project management budget
  • Between job costing estimates and actuals
  • Invoicing

The three dangers with re-keying data:

  1. inefficiency of re-keying
  2. error-prone aspect of re-keying
  3. time delays between when data in one system has changed and when that data is updated in the next system it is keyed into.

These delays can also result in two departments operating off of two different sets of what should be the same set of data.

Moving to business software that encompasses modules for all departments not only eliminates re-keying data, it also ensures that all departments are using/viewing the same set of current accurate data.

3) Redoing work

An often overlooked aspect of siloed data and disconnected business software applications, is the amount of time employees waste backtracking because the data they used initially wasn’t the “right” data. Good, hardworking employees are basically compensating for broken business software.

This duplicate time allocation often doesn’t show up on senior management’s radar because employees are basically solving problems before they’re visible to the organization. They are basically identifying the “wrong” data and spending extra time (and frustration) finding, updating and correctly entering “the right data”.

Ask your employees what percentage of their time they spend validating the data they're working on to make sure it's correct.  If it's more than 10% then that's a serious drag on productivity, as every minute they spend re-doing their work is time they didn't spend doing something productive.  That time savings alone may cost justify an investment in more comprehensive business software.

4) Departmental conflicts

Different departments will always have different and sometimes competing objectives. Although some departmental friction is inevitable, if your departments are constantly in conflict, there may be other issues at play.

A common scenario would be when one department ends up fighting a fire that started in another department and both the fire and the conflict were the result of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing.

Some signs that this might be an issue:

  • The sales team making timeline commitments to customers that the project implementation team can’t effectively deliver on
  • The procurement team having to backtrack and scramble to order “the right products” after initially ordering the wrong products
  • The service delivery team being out of sync with procurement for when product will arrive at the customer’s site in order to schedule service delivery
  • The invoicing team struggling to get accurate PM feedback on “what’s ready to be invoiced”
  • The support team struggling to confirm changes to what products are or are not covered by the service contract

These issues can inflame departmental conflicts and are almost always the result of a change happening in one department that is not effectively communicated to another affected department. It is the lack of company-wide visibility into these changes that is causing the conflict. If your operational departments act more like combatants than collaborators, then it might be time to consider putting more comprehensive business software in place that will actually support departmental collaboration.

If you are seeing one or more of the critical signs showing up in your business on a consistent basis, then now might be the time to consider moving to more comprehensive business software.

There is never a convenient time for putting new business software in place, however the business software that got you to 5-10 employees is probably not going to scale to get you to 20, 50, or 100 employees. It is always better to get in front of that problem rather than wait until it becomes a crisis.

By PROMYS PSA Anywhere - PSA software that integrates with MS Dynamics GP

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