Business Process Need Not Be a Fairy TaleCreating Long-Term Sustainable Value

Business Process and the Fairy Tale

One of our favorite fairy tales when we were little was ‘The Elves & The Shoemaker’.  So how does this fit with business process? keep reading.  To summarise the tale…

There once was a very experienced and highly regarded cobbler who was struggling to make ends meet – not having the have the time, the resources or the money to keep his small business in profit. One night, his workshop was visited by two magic elves who made use of all the cobbler’s existing equipment and materials to produce an exquisite pair of shoes that the cobbler subsequently sold the next morning for a much higher price than normal to an extremely satisfied customer.

The cobbler continued to be amazed at what was being produced by these ‘magic’ elves who were simply making the most out of his own existing resources and materials. Whatever ‘process’ being carried out during the night was making his business work better than it had ever worked before.

…it was efficient, it was streamlined, it was consistent – it was making money!

All the cobbler had to do was set out his own materials before he went to bed and in the morning – fantastic new shoes every single time. Now, the elves weren’t doing anything the cobbler couldn’t do – they were simply showing the cobbler what was possible of being achieved.

So How Does This Relate to My SME Business?

Every company has processes by which they operate. Most of them are stored as knowledge in employees’ heads, some are on paper or on excel spreadsheets. Those processes are created with a lot of trial and error and ongoing discussions to resolve how to get things done collaboratively. This often results in lots of interruptions that add up and prevent time from focus on other parts of the business. It also causes frustration as individuals try to make the tools being used, fit for purpose.

Furthermore, employees spend a lot of time copying information from one place to another manually which creates opportunities for error. Integrating the many systems involved in a process further reduces the hassle that employees can experience.

Against a backdrop of pressure in lower cost environments, SMEs need to identify areas where they can build sustainable competitive advantage.

Start with Your Assets – Your Company Processes

Good processes are company assets but they must remain “adaptive” to changing circumstances. Most companies we speak to use spreadsheets. But, they cause problems when more than one person is involved. There are also issues with maintainability, auditability and security.

A team lead from my first job used to constantly stress,  “Hours, not days!”. This was to challenge us to resolve issues without waiting for the next scheduled team meeting. Today, this sort of speed is more desirable than ever. To get work done sooner – for customer satisfaction, for quicker revenue, to solve problems and reduce cost – organisations need to structure their operations and processes to support immediate (or almost immediate) action on tasks.

Making the Transition – What are the Gains

Firstly, think about the customer experience. Equipping people within your organization with the right information at the right time within the relevant process,  allows good decisions to be made and implemented.

Secondly, by removing repetitive work and automating simple everyday processes contributes to greater efficiencies. This is an area where newer technologies and solid process thinking can make a big difference in managing, routing, and quickly performing work.

Want more margin? Start with Your Everyday Processes

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away there was a company who were raising an average of 200 Purchase Orders per week and their existing process of using a combination of Excel, Outlook & Word within the Office 365 platform was taking an average of 20 minutes per Purchase Order. Although in this case this wasn’t a risk to the company – it was laborious, time consuming and open to error.

Appetite for Business  demonstrated how their existing Office 365 platform could be utilized to their benefit. After some time passed, Appetite for Business helped the company to reduce that 20 minutes down to 3 minutes.  Subsequently saving 40 hours per week – equivalent to more than a full-time resource.

Business savvy people reading this will be calculating how much that is in your business. According to the income tax calculator website the average UK salary in 2017 is £27,000.

What Can you Do?

This is no fairy tale, and we are no magic elves. However, taking control of your business to improve efficiency and profitability is something any of us can do. Don’t let what seems like a sheer magnitude of a task to review existing processes stand in your way.

This is where companies like Appetite can add value. Bringing experience and knowledge across automating business process within Office 365 for SMEs. Helping  to you prioritise the quick win opportunities to realise measurable bottom line improvements in the near term.

Read how other SME’s are using Office 365 and SharePoint to tackle data, business process and information challenges and drive operations.