At a talk to the Malvern Small Business Forum the other week we highlighted the excessive amount of paperwork, both physical and electronic, that could be generated from by processing a single order when each of the several participants filed what they felt was reasonable. Afterwards, one member of the audience remarked that the problem was very much the territory of local government and, by implication, large organisations. I would disagree.
It is tempting to think of large organisations with their big offices and masses of filing cabinets as being prone to these excesses and, in the past, that was very much the case. More recently though, there have been changes: the need for economies have forced large organisations to review their processes and to see where changes can be made in order to save money. New enterprise process management systems together with streamlined processes and greater awareness of what is happening have led to serious savings in space, time and money.
Smaller companies have the same symptoms but cannot leverage the same economies of scale. In addition, the concept of “real money” is much closer. Because of this the issue may be ignored until the filing cabinet drawer won’t shut, the email account is overflowing or the file server is full. At that point what is required is time and money: time for a good clear out of the filing systems and cash for the upgrade.
“A stitch in time saves nine” so they say.
Just as the large companies have reviewed what they do and brought in changes, so can small companies do the same. The good news is that buying new expensive software does not have to be the answer. Significant improvements can be made by understanding what you do and ensuring it is right for your business now and moving forward.
So, take a look at how your organisation is working: If you have written processes:
- are they being followed?
- are they working?
- do they make sense?
- do they make best use of your resources (people and systems)?
- do they do the job or gold plate it?
If you have not written down your processes, would it be a good idea to do so?
Once you know what is happening, you are in a position to make changes. Some of these will be simple, obvious and cheap. Others, although potentially beneficial may involve expenditure of time or money and so require a business case.
The Nepeta Business Systems Healthcheck provides an independent review and helps you to identify improvements to make your business work better and save you money.
As a small business you may not save man years, millions of pounds and acres of floor space but the effect on your business can be at least as significant.