Leaving your business processes in an uncontrolled and undisciplined environment will see them taking on a life of their own. Start-ups can get away with informal, undocumented processes while they figure things out, but as a business grows, it’s a matter of time before internal inefficiencies slow you down.
Processes get so deeply ingrained in a business that it often becomes difficult to identify where the problem areas are. Under-performing teams, unhappy customers, decreasing revenue, and frustratingly slow workflows suggest that you need to improve your processes.
If your business has grown since you started, it’s possible that some of your processes need an overhaul. If any of the following sound familiar, things might need to change.
You’re sitting at ‘tipping point’
Companies in mainland UAE are mandated to be audited, while those in the free zone do not necessarily get audited. This depends on the rules and regulations or legal framework of the authorities.
Your legal and regulatory compliance requirements grow along with your business, as does your responsibility to external stakeholders. Having formal processes and systems in place make you more likely to pass an external audit. Proving compliance with laws like the Electronic Transactions and Commerce Law and the UAE Labour Law also becomes easier as a result.
The more staff you have, and the higher your revenue, the more admin you will have. Receipt shoeboxes and spreadsheets will no longer suffice. You will need standardised, documented processes to gather and store data, manage accounting functions, and handle performance reviews, which will give you a better idea of your operations and finances.
‘Shadow IT’ is creeping into your business
These days, technology is designed with the end-user in mind, to make our personal or working lives easier. If your team is constantly needing training on your systems, you need to find a simpler, more user-friendly system to free up their time to focus on strategic tasks.
This is especially important if you have Millennials and Gen Z workers as part your workforce. These generations grew up using technology and are accustomed to app-like experiences, instant access to information, and flexible schedules, and do not have the patience of routine, mundane tasks. They will often find ways to get these tasks done quicker, even if it means using solutions that your business does not support or endorse.
Ideally, your systems should be so simple that people can figure them out themselves. If they aren’t, staff might end up using personal technology to do their job, which will bring unnecessary security risks into your organisation as you lose control over where your data is stored.
You base decisions on historical data
Making decisions based on old data increases the risk of inaccuracy and error. These days, even information that’s one week old is considered historic. Being able to access your information in real-time, and seeing the changes in your data as they happen, will speed up your decision-making and allows you to tackle issues as they arise.
When making decisions using the most up-to-date data, you can be confident that they reflect the current state of your business – not the one from a day or two ago. Markets and businesses change quickly. Don’t let inefficient data hold you back.
Your processes are manually intensive
Is there still a load of paperwork around your office? Have you stored your data on so many different spreadsheets that you are unsure which version is the correct one? Are you still manually capturing your data? Is email the only way you’re tracking your workflow? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, you need better processes.
The biggest difficulty with manual processes is that individuals have different ways of doing things to achieve the same result. This is because there are no agreed-upon, documented processes. When people are left to their own devices, they come up with their own ways of doing things. This kind of ambiguity stifles productivity, increases risk, and results in frustration in the business.
Your business has grown increasingly complicated
If you have multiple offices or remote workers but you are still running your business the way you did when you were a start-up, it’s time to make a change. In this ever-evolving world, it is necessary for businesses to evolve, too. It will never be business as usual again.
No matter at what speed your business is growing, you will need scalable systems and processes that can evolve with your changing needs. From the get-go, choose flexible systems and customisable processes so that you will not need to worry about integration or switching to a new system because you’ve outgrown your current one.
Cloud-based solutions offer numerous benefits to SMEs, including scalability, automatic compliance with relevant legislation, instant upgrades, technical support, and data security – all for an affordable monthly fee.
Don’t fear change. Start simply, with one process, and assess the impact and value before moving to the next one. You will be pleasantly surprised at the impact it will have on your productivity and efficiency.