Choosing Systems Today Impacts Tomorrow's Bottom Line

There comes a time in every business where the tools that got us to the success we’ve achieved, are the tools that are letting us down. 

Sales successes and staff growth. More ambitious roadmaps. Changes in product direction. All of these could have us wondering “is there something on the market that will help us be more efficient, productive and excitedly hurtling towards our goals?”. It may be that the tools you have are still the tools you need, but may need a rethink on how they’re calibrated and used. The systems you choose today affect your bottom line in the long run.

How do we know we are making the right decisions when we choose software applications to support our business?

In most cases, the strategic and financial implications can be weighty, but perhaps not in the way that you might think. There is certainly nothing wrong with choosing a cost effective solution, but costs can sneak up on us in other unexpected ways. And at first you won’t perceive it in dollars and cents.

Every minute counts

Unsuitable systems mean that people spend unacceptable hours searching for relevant information. Hours!? you say? This additional time may only be 15 minutes (for what should be a 5 minute task) but those 10 minutes each time over the course of a year adds up. You could be contributing to the problem you’re actually trying to solve!

Atlassian has a great infographic based on highly respected research about wasted time at work. Our favourite takeaway was that 10 IQ points are lost fielding constant email, the same as is lost when you miss a whole nights sleep. But some other interesting points are:

  • Half of all meetings are considered wasted time by employees

  • 2 hours per day are spent recovering from 56 interruptions to work on any average day

  • Atlassian will also tell you how much time you spent looking at the infographic, which was a nice touch.

productivity time spent Atlassian infograph

Goes to show how easily we can be distracted by interesting information. Now, how about time we spend on unhelpful, unproductive, and most importantly, unnecessary tasks.

Put simply, decreases in productivity eventually impact your bottom line. Ask yourself, ‘how many wasted hours per week per employee is acceptable to us?’. Of course, camaraderie and the social component is critical to the employee experience. But if any time was to be wasted not working, wouldn’t you prefer it to be a bit of banter around the water cooler, and not an employee deep in frustration because they have inadequate systems to help them be productive?

What comes first, the systems or the process?

Just as no home should be built without an architectural drawing, no system should be built without a well thought out strategy. If the electrician turns up after the plasterer is finished, or the concreter arrives after the bricklayer has begun, you’ll cost yourself an arm and a leg trying to retrospectively remediate the situation. Using the analogy helps us to appreciate the fact the systems you chose today affect your bottom line tomorrow. 

Something similar can be said of the tools we use to work. Created processes can be themselves poorly architected if they are created in haste and/or restricted by technology that is not fit for purpose. In reverse, trying to force staff into process because the technology we chose looks pretty can be equally damaging. It will only lead to confusion, lack of direction, and frustration.

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” 

Which segues nicely into our next point.

People will start creating their own approach

You have an opportunity to present a unified approach and control the narrative when you launch new applications into your tool set. Consultation, professional training, and keeping staff up to date with new changes will set you up well for high adoption rates. But that is only 10% of the battle.

If your business process and your software don’t complement each other, it is inevitable that people will get frustrated. This is the point where you begin to lose the battle. If employee’s frustration with their software are hindering their productivity, they will ultimately give up and formulate their own processes. Ones that they think actually work for them. This means your investment is a wasted one x 2. Firstly you’ve paid for a under-used product. Second, your staff are still experiencing the same wasted efforts that we discussed under the section about productivity.

 
 

The impact to company culture

It’s de-motivating enough when tasks within your role are time consuming to accomplish because you don’t have the right tools. It’s even worse when the responsibilities within your role are actually designed to streamline process and allow everyone to plan, make decisions and execute proficiently. If this continues on a daily basis, it leads to negative attitudes to applications, team work, and can even drive staff churn.

Investing is well architected technology and business process solutions can greatly decrease costs across the business. We need to think bigger picture, beyond the initial outlay to purchase and implement these solutions. Beyond visible expenses and profit. While poor employee experience can majorly affect your bottom line, good employee experience is priceless. Make sure you are fully aware of the systems you chose today affecting tomorrow’s bottom line.