Tag Archives: SMBs

5 Ways Processes Make SMBs More Agile

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“Processes” often sound like a dirty word for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). When you’re working in a small organization, your team has no choice but to work together to ensure maximum productivity.  Many SMBs worry that processes will actually hurt productivity.

The common concern goes something like this:

  • Having a process will just slow down projects by requiring approvals and meetings 
  • Once a process is in place, the organization will need to pivot or focus in another direction because they must be nimble – and processes will only get in the way of pivoting
  • Defining and implementing a process takes too much time and most people don’t stick to it – so why bother implementing it?

These worries result from badly implemented and poorly designed processes. Good processes won’t cause the above problems. In fact, good processes make your company more agile. 

Here are 5 ways that good processes will improve your organization.

1. Processes increase transparency within organizations

Even in SMBs, there can be silos and lack of communication on goals and initiatives because everyone is so focused on their individual roles. A proper process ensures effective collaboration between everyone. When everyone is clear on process and more importantly, the reasons for a process, they are more likely to support that process from their respective position.

But that’s not all.  This second part is especially important for SMBs. Often, team members understand what everyone else is doing but not necessarily why they are doing it or how it drives business. A process breaks down those communication barriers so that everyone is confident in each role and the projects that are driving the company forward. 

2. Greater accountability 

Usually in SMBs, everyone wears many hats. Your marketing person may also be in charge of sales and web development and your HR person could also be in charge of customer service.

This can be a great thing and it can make your company extremely agile — sometimes.  But when people handle many different responsibilities, it can be difficult to see who is really doing what. 

Generally, when a small group of people are doing many different things and the processes aren’t clear, projects can get dropped or mistakes are made. With so many overlapping responsibilities, it’s easy to point blame on everyone or no one. You may often hear: “I have so much going on that I didn’t realize that project was on my plate” or “I just assumed So-and-So was handling that.”

Processes eliminate this problem because they make everyone’s responsibilities very clear. With a process, no one can say “I didn’t realize that activity was on my plate to do” because they – and everyone else – will know exactly what falls under their roles and responsibilities.

3. No More Throwing Spaghetti at The Wall

A common problem among SMBs is that employees often feel there is no time to actually find long-term solutions to issues.  As a result,  they’re constantly forced to fix things quickly and making it work “for now.”

But, the “for-now” approach actually leads to lost time and less productivity because you are constantly having to go back to fix that same problem over and over again. In short, you’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall just hoping one of these solutions will stick.

Processes create clear paths to reliable and repeatable long-term solutions. When you create a process that efficiently creates a long-term solution, this results in your team having the time to take care of their other projects and responsibilities.

4. Your budget will go farther

SMBs have limited budgets – everyone knows this. Processes help you to do things more efficiently and effectively, with more of a focus and connection to the bottom line.

When you have haphazard projects, you’re “throwing spaghetti at the wall”.  There is no accountability, and it is very easy for your team to be working on things that don’t connect to the bottom line.  

This means your team is working hard – they might even be overworked – but you’re not actually growing your business. 

What then happens is one of two things: your team feels overworked and under-appreciated and their work starts to decline or you hire more people to get more work done, even if it’s for projects that don’t necessarily provide value to the organization. 

Either way, you are paying for a company that might not be delivering as much value as it could.

Developing efficient and effective processes helps ensure every project connects to the bottom line. This way your team won’t be wasting their time or energy, and you won’t be wasting money paying for work that doesn’t actually grow your business!

5. You can be continuously improving

In an SMB, many owners and team members are often just trying to stay afloat and put out fires as they come up. They are finding quick fixes, squeezing by on tight budgets and just trying to stay ahead of the competition. 

It can be hard to see much growth or understand how the business is actually growing. With a process, you can establish a baseline from which to measure improvements. You’ll be able to say “This is where we started and this is where ended up and here’s what went right and what went wrong.”

Defined processes give your business a chance to improve. You’ll have a clearer picture of what decisions you as the business owner need to make.  You will enable your team members to feel empowered about what they are able to accomplish and it provides a greater sense of responsibility and contribution to the company’s success.

The point of this is: the right process can help your organization accomplish more and grow faster. So instead of questioning the value of processes or avoiding them all together, take the time to establish the right processes or improve the ones that you already have. By defining processes, you actually become more agile – you can quickly and confidently identify and implement the operational changes required to quickly respond to changes in the market and keep you ahead of your competition.

Looking for more support?

Tedder Consulting’s new Process Improvement Workshop can help you quickly and effectively improve your processes in your organization! Learn more about it here!

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4 Surprising Reasons ITSM Really is for SMBs

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There is a nasty rumor going around the IT world about ITSM. Some professionals and organizations think that ITSM is nothing more than a bureaucratic mess of processes that only inhibits productivity and can only be effectively implemented by large organizations.

But we’re going to let you in on a secret: Good ITSM is every SMBs secret weapon.

ITSM doesn’t have to be complicated. After all, ITSM is simply a set of defined practices for implementing, managing and delivering IT services that meet the needs of the organization.

Good ITSM looks like:

  • Reliable, consistent and relatable services from IT to the customer
  • A measurable contribution to business value from IT
  • Efficient, data-driven, defined and documented processes

Now, that doesn’t exactly sound like something that is is only beneficial for large companies, does it?

While many people recognize the benefits of great ITSM, let’s talk specifically why ITSM is great for  SMBs.

1. Customer Experience

Customer expectations have drastically changed over the last few years due in part to new technologies. Customers expect real-time responses, personalized journeys and continual innovation from businesses. 

Let’s take Amazon as an example. You may think that customers shop at Amazon simply because it’s Amazon. While that may be the case now; originally, customers started shopping with Amazon because Amazon made it convenient to shop with them. Amazon started doing things like offering personalized shopping requests, providing immediate shipping notifications and maintaining a responsive customer service. An “Amazon experience” is now the customer expectation with every business.

Of course, most small businesses run with limited staff, so “Amazon-like” expectations may be difficult for SMBs to meet. 

That’s where ITSM comes in. ITSM helps SMBs provide faster and more reliable services without requiring extra manpower. In the end, it means a smoother, more cohesive customer experience without extra overhead from a bigger staff. 

2. Agility 

The business world is incredibly competitive. Technology has enabled every business to move faster and grow quicker. If you’re not ahead of the curve, you’re already falling behind – so agility is an absolute requirement for SMBs. 

ITSM helps organizations to structure their workflows so the most pressing and important needs are handled quickly. ITSM helps eliminate distractions and nagging problems that constantly need to be fixed and it helps teams stay focused on the outcomes that help the business get ahead and stay ahead. 

3. ITSM can be easier to implement at SMBs

As we addressed above, SMBs must be agile and nimble in order to keep up with their competition. SMBs must focus on the projects and services that will drive revenue and grow the business bottomline.

Because of this, SMBs are uniquely suited to see wins from ITSM faster than larger companies do. In an SMB, teams are smaller and they must work together more frequently on the most valuable and important projects. They often see the results of their efforts more directly than those working in large organizations.

Therefore, there are fewer people to convince to support ITSM implementation, fewer instances of siloed-thinking to overcome, and a greater understanding of how everyone works together.

4. Your budget will take you further.

Contrary to many myths, ITSM is not about the newest and greatest tool. It is about creating process and workflows so that the entire organization works better to enable a seamless customer experience.

Creating efficient processes and well-defined services ensures that your business is growing at a healthy scale. When you have the right processes and clear services, you can rest assured your team is focused on driving business. So that when it becomes time for you to grow and hire more team members, it will be because the business is growing, not because your team is too busy and stressed out but not actually driving business.     

Additionally, great ITSM doesn’t start with the tool. It starts with focusing first on business needs and then identifying and defining the needed processes, services and workflows to meet those business needs. By starting from this perspective, you will avoid wasting money on tools that will never support your business. You will know that when you do invest in a tool, it will work within the processes you’ve already defined and it will be used correctly 

How to Start to Implement ITSM In Your SMB?

If you are ready to begin implementing ITSM, it’s important that you start by answering some questions. This will help you have a clear understanding of how ITSM can fit into your business. 

Remember what we mentioned above, ITSM is not about buying the latest and greatest tool! Avoid diving straight in with purchasing a fancy tool – start with the defining service and the needed processes! 

Avoid the common mistake of messing up ITSM before you even get started with it! The answers to these questions will help you much more than any expensive tool will at this stage of your ITSM journey.

  • Identify how does your business utilize or depend upon technology? 
  • What are common activities that your team performs in supporting your business in its use of technology?
  • Are you able to measure the contribution that technology brings to your business?  Are you able to measure and discuss how your IT team contributes to business success – in business-relevant terms?
  • What could be done differently in how IT contributes to business success?
  • What small improvements could result in big wins for your company? 

Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to start learning about the different ITSM frameworks and how you can get started with it. Attend webinars and user group meetings to learn what good ITSM can do for your business, talk to experts, or read blogs and white papers about the best way to get started with ITSM.

It’s the beginning of the year and many SMBs are still bright-eyed with big goals and exciting plans and timelines, so now is the time to get ahead of your timeline and ensure that you hit every goal you have this year!

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What Digital Transformation Looks Like for Small Businesses

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Digital transformation is a top priority for most organizations today. Across the world, CEOs and COOs are starting to shift their budgets and their organizations to be more digital-friendly. But what does that mean for organizations that don’t have massive IT budgets or multiple departments?

digital transformation

Can small businesses take part in digital transformation and if so, what will it look like?

For us to be able to answer these questions, let’s first define digital transformation. Digital transformation is how businesses exploit technology to create new business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet the changing needs in today’s technological world. In short, it’s about adapting your business to the changing digital landscape.

While digital transformation can become quite complex, it’s actually uniquely suited for small businesses. Small businesses must be agile and quick to adapt in order to survive. Most small businesses owners are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes because they need to be as efficient as possible.

So it’s not surprising that small businesses are already embracing a digital future. 48% of SMBs plan to transform their business for a digital future. In fact, many small businesses have already started their own digital transformation journeys. An IT research firm’s most recent survey of 1,600 small businesses found that 82 percent of SMBs are already on their digital transformation journey.

One of the biggest complaints about digital transformation is that it is an enormous initiative that takes time, money and manpower. But SMBs are showing that even the most time-strapped business owners can find the resources to address these initiatives and embrace a digital future.

During digital transformation, organizations must take a step back and ask themselves if they are using technology in the right way and for the right solution. It’s about being intentional with the way you use different technologies across the organization, no matter how large or small the organization.

These initiatives can be many different things for small businesses including:

  • Collaborative tools
  • CRM systems
  • Marketing automation
  • Accounting software
  • Communication tools and processes
  • Hiring processes

From chatbots to cloud accounting software, digital technologies can improve every area of a small business. But a small business owner needs to thinks strategically when it comes to implementing digital transformation initiatives before just diving right in.

Here’s how to get started with digital transformation as a small business:

Before you start any digital transformation project, perform an internal assessment to identify gaps, problems and threats in your organization.

  • What’s key to your business’ survival?
  • What’s your biggest problem?
  •  Where are the gaps in your processes?
  • What are your competitors offering that you are not?
  • What are your customer expectations?

When creating your roadmap, it’s important that SMBs do two things:

The first is to pursue a holistic approach to digital transformation, which means to focus on the technology along with the needed business outcomes. Digital transformation is not about buying the most expensive, trendiest tool. It’s about solving the problems of the organization and improving its efficiencies. For each technology that is suggested, identify the desired business outcome and ways of measurement.

The second is to consider long-term and short-term goals. Digital transformation is not an overnight initiative. However, for SMBs, it’s essential that they implement initiatives that can be implemented quickly with specific and measurable ROI. There are no huge budgets in a small business, so these initial projects must free up resources and increase revenues so that they can help to fund bigger projects later on down the road.

As the digital transformation roadmap is created and begin to choose your digital transformation projects, there are three characteristics that you want to keep in mind. These three practices are the keys to a successful digital transformation initiative.

1.Clear communication

Business leaders must be able to clearly state the desired outcomes of the project in a way that your teams will understand. It’s also important that SMBs collaborate across stakeholders. Whether it’s a team of 5 of 200, it’s imperative that decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Digital transformation blends processes, technologies and departments so that the entire business improves. Get buy in from all your team members.

2. Strategic prioritization of goals

The team must be aligned with the company’s shared strategic goals for digital transformation to occur. Digital transformation cannot be an “IT initiative.” It must be a company-wide initiative.  Each department or team member will be more willing to take part in projects when they understand how these projects will improve the company as a whole.

3. Rely on those with subject matter expertise

Empower team members to be part of the digital transformation by inviting them to have a say in the projects that align with their roles and their experience. Your IT manager or consultant should play a role in every project but if you are searching for the perfect marketing automation software, empower the marketing team to take lead in the business case.

As small businesses build out their digital transformation journey, they will see it is a blend of quick wins and long-term projects with one important thing helping to charge the path: data. Small businesses should begin to focus on the data they receive from each project. This data will help their businesses to better understand their customers, partners, and employees so they can design better digital initiatives, processes, and products as they become more and more digital.

Digital transformation is proving to be an unavoidable undertaking for every business but fortunately, it’s one that pays off. A Harvard study found that top digital transforming companies posted higher gross margins and more income filtering to the bottom line than slower digital adopters. And for SMBs, a study found that small businesses that invest in technology are 18% more likely to experience revenue growth.

SMBs should not shy away from digital transformation. In fact, they should be ready to embrace it more than anyone. With the right strategy and smart project management, SMBs can quickly move forward into a digital future, while seeing business growth, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement.

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