Monday, November 28, 2011

Standardized Business Processes

There are literally thousands of articles on the benefits of standardizing.  A recent Google search turned up “About 7,320,000 results”.  So how do you determine what is relevant?  If you are lucky, you can narrow the search a bit.  The luck really is in guessing what keywords can be used to narrow the search.  Many of the articles will have some nice content, but is it relevant?  And, how much time will that take and will you be confident the answer you come up fits your questions?

So perhaps the better question would be what effects would standardizing my business operations have on the bottom line of my financials?  And not so much what is a standard business process. 

One of the key ingredients of America’s industrial growth was in adopting a set of standards.  All sorts of different standards exist for different things, like bolt sizes, dimensions of lumber, etc.  If you can think of it, some group someplace has a standard for it. 

So how does that help my business? 

Being able to consistently repeat a process is a key ingredient.  Through repetition we have the ability to track and measure all aspects of the operation.  That track and measure ability creates averages and those can be compared to industry standards, which are repeatable averages across an industry.

We do not have to recreate the wheel.  We just need to recognize that we have one and tune our operations to what others have already figured out.  While it is possible your business is unique, it is more likely that someone someplace is already doing what you are doing or are attempting to do.  So the challenge becomes a matter of placing your business in the right category and finding out what the competition in that category is doing. 

Really, believe it or not, someone has already figured out what you need to do to streamline your operations.  If you are using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that is more than a few years old or was not a real good fit to begin with, or you do not have an ERP system, then you need to start taking a look to see what options you have. 

In the case where you have an older system, it might be as simple as upgrading what you have to the same Vendor’s newest release.  They may have already fixed the issues that are a stumbling block.  If you have more than one system, perhaps due to a merger or acquisition, then you will need to figure out which one, if any of the existing systems, will carry you forward.  You may need to replace all of the systems with a new unified system.  It is sometimes just easier to start fresh.

A new system installed correctly where there never was one will be a lot easier than retraining existing users on a new system.  Regardless, it is important to keep an eye to the end goal.  A standardized solution across the enterprise enables efficiencies, which increases productivity, which reduces costs, which leads to increased profits (i.e. an improved bottom line).

So, does this all make sense?   It should, because so far it is everything you already know.

A good fit solution properly implemented will yield a good Return on Investment (ROI).  At that point you begin to wonder how you ever managed before.  You just cannot imagine how you operated before having your new solution.  The pain of conversion is a distant memory.  There by the way is no pain-free change. 

It is a matter of taking that first step.  They do not write books about people who played it safe.  Successful businesses take calculated risks, they constantly learn and grow, they embrace change, and they think long-term.

All businesses that are successful realize that if they change nothing, they will eventually be out of business.  There is only change and its rate is ever increasing. 

A new solution must have the foundation to be able to grow with and adapt to your business process changes.  A trusted advisor like Dolvin Consulting taps industry experts to link your challenges to an appropriate solution. 

If any part of this article makes sense or makes you think, then it is your responsibility to contact us to see if we can help.  We cannot promise you anything, but we will listen and do our very best to help. 

Remember, we do not sell software, we find solutions.

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