We all know that what we measure we can improve. I had recent cause to reflect on this as I put numbers to things I have not previously put numbers to.
For years I have timed myself on ski runs to see how long they took me. A humble stopwatch was all that was required. However, my phone now sports an app that uses GPS to track speed, trace routes and determine the number of runs and vertical metres skied (ski tracks).
Suddenly I found myself paying attention to peak speed and looking for more powerful turns on steeper runs. I surprised myself with a speed of 63km/h on my first tracked run and set about improving. It took me three weeks over multiple trips to the snow and finding the right conditions but I finally cracked the 100km/h mark on my birthday (I won’t say which one).
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Of course, it is all downhill from here as they say.
Interestingly I plateaued for a while at about 80 to 83km/h and thought that was the best I could achieve. It took some breakthroughs to really progress; a little coaching and some weight loss and fitness improvement between trips.
This is not so different to how our businesses grow and develop as we work out better ways to get them running on the edge and performing as well as they can.
Is your business measuring cashflow as well as it should? Do you know your stock levels and what is turning over and what is not? Are you using the best ways to collect money from your clients via modern solutions such as EFT and PayPal or do you still wait for a check to be posted?
Are your management reports simply versions of financial reports or are they really tracking productivity levels?
Which of your employees is performing and which of them is running at 65% efficiency or less?
Are your employees using the best apps to keep them out of the office and on the road selling or delivering services in an accountable manner?
Could you be tracking a fleet of vehicles with GPS tools or tracking assets with an asset registry and RFID chips?
Of course we measure numbers in many areas of our business and it helps us to make good management decisions to ensure there is profit left after all the bills are paid. Unfortunately in small businesses, when we get it wrong we simply wear the cost with little margin for error. Surely the earlier we get our warnings of things going wrong the earlier we can take evasive action and limit our losses.
We are facing a data explosion at the moment and we sometimes don’t know what to do with it all. So clearly we need to spend some time contemplating what it is we want to improve and how we might measure that. We then need to set about finding the right tools for that measurement and analysis task.
This is not a time to have one’s head in the sand. It is time to make an investment in finding technology solutions that drive better accountability.
My experience would suggest that anything that measures the individual output of your staff is likely to lead to the greatest cost savings as you benchmark good performance against poor performance. Once you have visibility of poor performance you can set about better management to ensure your investment in human capital is well rewarded.
You will not save money by spending it on technology but you will improve performance; leading to better margins, by investing in the right measurement systems, and analysis, if you find productivity generating devices and systems.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that ensures IT is never an impediment to growth.