It has been business planning season for the new financial year and as we enter the last quarter for this financial year our plans should be in place with our strategies re-affirmed to set the direction for the year ahead.
Like any good plan, implementing it should start with strategy, which creates direction, which is broken down into components and tactics. IT should be one of the components and the strategy should lead and inform the investments and the tactics.
This theoretical stuff flies in the face of a break/fix mentality of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. The break/fix style of business management leads to tactical work to repair faults but does not offer any strategic advantage to the business. I often come across businesses stuck in a world where the IT budget is spent on effort and resources that are entirely reactive, leaving nothing to develop new innovation. While this style of IT management is usually perceived as a way to conserve cash in a business, it is typically not the case. Today there are opportunities to innovate on business processes that are underpinned by changes to IT systems.
Have you asked your staff lately what they find time-consuming and frustrating about your IT systems and asked what they think should be changed to make their jobs more enjoyable or quicker or easier? What if they told you? Could you drive the cost of business down and have happier employees working more productively for you?
Do you have a suitable mechanism to ask them and manage the response?
As business owners we all want a business that works better, where staff are easier to attract, manage and keep, a business that retains clients, attracts new clients and continues to grow without increasing the cost base, to fuel our success as entrepreneurs. I encourage you to look at gaining an IT strategy for the next three years to drive your success in this direction.
This week I got to work with an innovative business owner who has developed a new set of digital tools for his mobile workforce that not only increase the productivity of the mobile worker by 40% to 100%, they also increase the quality of reporting back to the head office so that better tracking can be done and better decisions can be made. In trials with his workers, he had his best workers getting amazing results and one of his less inspired workers asking the question, “If I can get my work done this fast, how will I fill the rest of my day?”
The business is in a very competitive service industry and his company is already one of the delivery leaders because of the systems they use today. With the new tools deployed, they will be able to reduce their quotes by 20% and increase their margin by 15 to 20%. This is significant competitive advantage brought about by a strategic approach to IT systems in the business. The solo service bloke who was able to compete on price last year will wonder where his opportunity went next year and the bigger more strategic business will dominate the market. Could this already be happening to your industry?
If your company could harness this kind of strategic advantage in IT before your competitors what would it mean for you? Or conversely if they did deploy this kind of strategic leap what would it cost you to either catch up or back out of your uncompetitive business?
Has it already happened and you are just stubbornly holding on to your declining market share with the clients your competitor has not got to yet?
It won’t surprise you to learn the IT services industry keeps going through changes just like this that are technology based. By making use of current technologies and internal process improvement we have been able to drive the following changes in our business:
Against recording of support requests for the last 100 days as at June 2013 vs June 2014:
- Quick resolve tickets: 15 minutes reduced to 7 minutes per ticket
- Medium resolve tickets: 30 minutes reduced to 15 minutes
- Slow resolve tickets: 68 minutes reduced to 38 minutes
- The number of tickets overall and in each category changed by less than 5%, so the total time spent resolving tickets reduced by over 40%.
The effect on the business has been to reduce stress on staff, increase availability for project-based services, increase focus on education and time available for study and exams, improve perception of quality of service by the clients. This in turn has led to an improved net promoter score and a stronger tendency to refer us to new prospects. It has also enabled us to invest more in company expansion.
So with this in mind, how is your business plan looking for next financial year? Do you need some help with the IT strategy component of it?
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for Business IT that makes sense. How can we help?