One Step At A Time Changing Processes
Sydney Outsourced CFO Thomas Taylor - Sunday, November 01, 2015
Make it 5 steps
If you want to get into a huge mess try to do everything at once. It will work every time. That's not to say that we can't do a few things concurrently but big changes take planning, good management and discipline. This is particularly true of system changes. Maybe it's best to plan in steps of 5.
Build on the rock and not upon the sand
A good way to think about it is from the bottom up, like you would with a house. Start with strong foundations. For most businesses that's Xero. Because it's an accounting system it's designed to have strong controls and structure. It also happens to be a particularly efficient and robust system. Start with this strong foundation and it will grow with you - but it's important to also understand what it is not. I've seen people try to use it for things it was never intended to do, particularly project management and billing.
Fit for purpose
It's very unlikely that any of the problems you face have not been faced before, make sure that you search widely for possible solutions. Talk to people that have been through the same issues, talk to users. This is particularly true for operations systems and CRMs. It's easy with Xero because it's such a safe choice but maybe not so easy when it comes to things like CRMs that can vary from inflexible industry specific systems to a raw database.
Keep it simple
Some of the great features you might see on some systems sound great but, before you start down that track, can it process an order and prepare an invoice? Does it have reports that show you exactly what's going on. These fundamentals have to be addressed first. Absolutely make sure that higher level features can be next steps but make sure the basics work in step one.
Joining it all together sounds sensible, but is it that important?
A lot of people talk about joining systems together and it's easy to imagine an ideal world where all information comes together. You can imagine yourself playing big-data wizard but at what cost? I think the first steps should focused on transaction processing, billing etc, before you tackle the nice-to-have. Good systems export data to excel and often business intelligence needs change so quickly that it's not worth the time and money to hard code them. Thats a good rule of thumb - bed down transactions and key reports reports solidly first, then ask more complex questions in excel.
What if you're stuck with a legacy headache?
If you pull out one part the others fall over? Not a nice place to be and more than often caused by not following the steps above but there is always time to change the road you're on. I'll blog about this in a couple of weeks time.