In this article, James Ducker, Managing Director and FileMaker Developer at Decent Group, highlights how careful monitoring and digitisation of your own internal processes and workflows can save huge amounts of time on difficult projects.
Small businesses in their early stages are eager to please. They take on any challenge that comes their way, wanting to set themselves apart in a competitive market. However, if a business wants to expand, it needs to make its internal processes as quick and effective as possible, whilst obviously maintaining a high degree of quality. If you have unstructured workflows and systems, even the best small companies can become overwhelmed, suddenly finding themselves in a middle of an internal, or worse, customer project, that seemingly has no end. If a company cannot complete basic tasks such as customer relationship management, invoicing and billing or accurate activity tracking, then it will never grow and develop. More often than not, the cause for these lengthy jobs is down to the fundamental aspects that make up the company. A successful business needs to maintain an organised and structured layout in order to remain on top, and put to bed those long lasting projects by streamlining processes.
Setting and sticking to a budget
A slow moving project can often be the result of unmonitored finances. When a business is unsure of the expenditures needed versus the finances available, it can spell disaster and often irreparably dents customer confidence. Keeping a clear and concise understanding of what is going in and out is the first step to improving efficiency within any business project. Making sure to set targets and expectations early, can allow for accurate and honest communication between the team, resulting in an easier understanding of the challenge faced. In turn it will allow for precise invoicing, budgeting and swift project completion.
This is not only restricted to pounds and pence, it extends to the material worth of the products in a company’s possession. A successful entrepreneur not only needs to be aware of what’s in the stockroom and what’s on back-order, but also what assets, both tangible and intangible, it has at any given time. An efficient organisation maintains a strict understanding of its capabilities in order to accurately approach any project that they face.
Effective placement of employees
Even the most profitable and well stocked businesses can still find themselves stuck in a rut, knee-deep in an endless project. This is often – but not always – due to the business being unable to place its staff in the right areas. When a team undertakes a project, it is essential that every member of that group is working at their full potential. A team needs to be effectively placed to suit all areas of what a project demands. A disorganised enterprise risks selecting the wrong people for the wrong tasks; this will inevitably result in a longer project with a less satisfying conclusion.
Ideally, when a problem arises, staff need to be able to exchange ideas, experience and solutions in order to resolve the issue and complete the task. This is only possible when an enterprise knows where and how their employees are placed. If staff cannot communicate, then a problem will remain unsolved, and that project incomplete.
To monitor every facet of your business; from staffing requirements, to financial obligations, to product and stock control is no easy thing, especially in a small, high-growth organisation. Fortunately, businesses today, regardless of size, can now automate many of these processes automatically with an Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP system for short). By doing so, an entrepreneur can focus on expanding their business rather than auditing their company. In Decent Group’s experience, there is no one-size-fits all solution to ERP systems, as every company is different. That’s why we take advantage of the FileMaker platform to develop bespoke ERP systems which are unique to specific businesses. Stock, financials, staff information, customer details, anything and everything can be stored on a single unified system, one that can monitor and update automatically when changes occur.
There will always be unexpected developments and setbacks in projects and in business – that’s just the life of a successful entrepreneur. However these can be overcome quickly and effectively by setting clear targets, and carefully monitoring the different facets of your organisation. And with a little help from the right tech, that one project that never seems to go away… will!
James is a FileMaker-certified developer and has been working with FileMaker since 1994. He runs Decent Group, a small team of FileMaker developers based in Swindon – and one of only a few companies to be awarded ‘Platinum’ status by FileMaker Inc.