One of the key components of successfully (and profitably) growing your business is scalability. The concept of scalability can be applied across any business function, from systems to people to working capital.
In my recent experience, systems are one of the areas most ignored and under-resourced as a business scales yet have the most to offer in terms of ROI. As a business experiences growth, the need for integrated systems becomes apparent. In fact, it’s almost impossible to scale up profitably without optimising your systems.
Fortunately, in this post cloud era, taking on new systems is more financially achievable than ever. Subscription based licencing along with cloud hosting and deployment can take the financial sting out of migrating to a new system.
But where do you start?
Having helped businesses to scale, here are my top tips to scaling up your systems:
- Allocating time and resources – the process of selecting a new system, then managing a system migration project are critical to the success of your new system. Remember, your people already have day jobs so, this activity will be in addition to their current workload. Where possible, bring someone onboard with system migration or project management experience, or consider backfilling an existing role temporarily to allow one of your existing team to be the project manager.
It’s all about matching your business processes to the available system workflows and finding the optimal outcome.
- System selection – go to market and have a good look around. Understand what your industry and competitors are using – even if it’s to understand what not to do! Build a business case and do the costings to compare your options. I strongly recommend considering cloud-based, highly configurable software such as Microsoft Dynamics or Sage XO. If you’re not ready for a more advanced system like this, a cloud-based system with an app store full of subscribe-and-go integrations makes a lot of sense. Understand the difference between configuration and customisation. Configuration means standard updates can be applied. Customisation means all updates need to be customised.
- System design and configuration – this is the area where I see things go wrong all the time. It’s all about matching your business processes to the available system workflows and finding the optimal outcome. Doing this well requires an interesting mix of skillsets. Brainstorming sessions between your operations people and system experts will always produce the best results, but always have your senior people involved. These sessions can be a lengthy and challenging, so having an experienced person to facilitate the discussion, keep people on-task and focused on the outcome is paramount.
- Commit – if you’re thinking “soft launch” or “let’s maintain the old system just in case”… I’m confident your new system migration will fail. The entire team needs to be on board starting with a visible commitment from the business owner which will flow outwards across the business. If you have buy-in from all areas of the business, expert advice on system setup and a robust project plan managed by an experienced project manager then you are committed to the process and on track to success.
With over 20 years’ senior finance experience I’m passionate about helping businesses scale up and reach their potential. One way I do this, is improving systems. If you’re unsure of where to begin or don’t want to allocate the task to your already busy internal team, I’m here to help and up for the challenge of ensuring a smooth and successful system and process transition. Feel free to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog post is the first in a three part series on scalability – Systems, People, Working Capital.
Ashley Garrone is a Chartered Accountant and trusted figure in the industry, acting in senior finance roles with experience installing and project managing ERP systems.
This publication is © Mage Advisory and is for general guidance only. Professional advice should be sought before taking action in relation to any specific issues.