3 Ways to Control Chaos in your Small Business
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Articles abound, telling you how to get organized, get systematic, and get motivated. But they don’t really tell you why you should bother.
Here’s why: Because when you aren’t wasting time tracking down the status of something or figuring out what your team is up to, you can focus on developing the best ideas to increase innovation, get more done sooner, and achieve success. You’ll save money and time along the way, but what you’re really after is realizing that important goal that got you into small business in the first place.
Here are 3 ways to harness your team’s energy so you can all become heroes:
1. Discover repeated processes and re-use the best ones.
You are all doing a tremendous amount of work, some of it planned and much of it unplanned, unstructured and unanticipated. Examples of planned work have something to do with the name on your shingle. Are you a consultancy? Then your planned work will be about consulting and developing good ideas.
The second kind, the unplanned, unstructured, and unanticipated projects, have to do with things like office moves, untested marketing campaigns and activities, and finance and administration developments, and almost always have similar steps for a wine merchant, dental office, advertising firm – name it. This second type of work, the type that can bring a feeling of “chaos,” usually seems “ad hoc,” one-off and specific, at the same time that it’s incredibly important to the organization’s mission.
Innovative companies capture this unplanned, unstructured work, figure out the best ways of doing it, and then re-use what they’ve learned in other areas of the business. For example, an executive asks to move offices. The work request comes in the form of an IM or a “ping” as it is often annoyingly called. No big deal, the executive figures – it’s just a simple office move. However, the request actually kicks off a sequence of unplanned events involving facilities, IT, human resources, finance, and other areas of the business.
It’s possible (and I would argue, likely) that there is already a similar – planned – sequence of steps being used elsewhere in the business that could be applied to the executive’s request. Perhaps in client onboarding, the sales team has honed a great process for dealing with just such issues, in the right order by the right team member.
If you have visibility into both the sales team’s great process, and the fact that a “one off” request to move offices actually invokes the same process, then you can handle the executive’s request smoothly and effectively. You avoid wasting time and resources and everyone stays focused on the right type of work.
Comindware provides the way to discover the work that’s being done, even when it’s unplanned, along with the best ways of doing such work. Its graphical workflow builder makes it simple to replicate the best processes, and its universal engine gives real-time visibility into everything that’s going on, within the team and across the whole business.
2. Keep track of tasks, requests, budgets and projects, with real-time reporting.
Seriously, don’t be lulled into thinking that because you have a “small” business, you can get by with email (and the aforementioned “pinging” for the urgent stuff). You can’t. You aren’t.
“Get your team members onto a system that does more than increase “chatter” among the team…”
I talk to small business owners all the time who literally don’t know what their people are doing, where their projects stand, or to what degree the actual numbers fit with the projected numbers. Fix that. Get your team members onto a system that does more than increase “chatter” among the team.
Use something that manages tasks, auto-assigns work as part of a sequence, accepts any type of content with built-in versioning, and allows commenting and unlimited hierarchies of subtasks.
This way, you’ll have everything you need to keep track of it all. Get it all on one system, with integrations to any 3rd party software (e.g. Salesforce integration) you might be using, and then you’ll have visibility across the whole business, in real time.
I know that Comindware does these things, and I know that other tools in the task management and project management space don’t come close to offering the robust functionality combined with flexibility and visibility that Comindware offers, thanks to its new kind of database: ElasticData®.
I hear from small business owners who purchased “collaboration” tools to help them keep track of everything, but then they quickly learned that there was no engine driving the work. It was just so much yammering on. Frustrated that they’ve wasted money and time on yet another application, they lament that the problems were not only not fixed, but that they now have an additional “silo,” the new tool that isn’t tied to other systems.
Once they learn what Comindware can do, and see how to apply it to their environments, they get control and visibility of the whole team’s work.
3. Clear your calendar so you have time to think and plan.
You are leading a small business, and your enterprise needs you to sweat the big stuff. This means you can’t be tied up in endless meetings just so you can have some sense of what’s going on. And, while you need the routine work to get done, you can design simple processes that will take care of most of it. Which frees you to think, to meet with the right people who can help you to grow your business, and to win both new business and recognition.
“…put your routine work into a planned process built on an engine that kicks out the right tasks at the right time to the right people.”
That said, you’d be remiss if you just cleared your calendar without ensuring:
- that you do know what’s going on,
- that the routine work is in fact getting done.
So, again, bring in a system that gives you real-time visibility across any and all areas of the business, and that lets you put routine work into a planned process built on an engine that kicks out the right tasks at the right time to the right people. I recommend Comindware for the reasons mentioned already, and I encourage you to take a look at this new solution.
You obviously think you have something to contribute to the market, which is why you got into small business. Make sure you focus on that unique strength so you can innovate and achieve success sooner. To focus like this, you’ll need to re-use your team’s best ideas, keep track of all of the work in real-time, and reserve enough clear calendar space so you can do what’s most important for your business.
I invite you to visit www.comindware.com for more ideas about how the right software can help you accomplish your company’s mission.