"We have always done it this way" can be the kiss of death for so many companies today. Sure you have built a great business and your ways of working have worked to date, but how will you innovate to keep up with the competition moving forward? We see this a lot of times in family-owned manufacturers, legacy companies, or hyper-growth companies that have begun to plateau. Driving innovation and being a force for change inside of a company can often be a daunting task. However, finding ways to work faster, smarter, and more profitably is essential to growth and not falling behind.
One way a company can drive efficiency and put time, profits, and better customer and employee experience is with the implementation of technology. There are no shortages of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and hundreds of other tools available for businesses to work smarter and not harder. While an off-shelf solution may be a fit for some businesses, custom-built software can specifically address key issues, challenges, and opportunities specific to an individual businesses instead of the "one side fits all" model".
Custom software may seem foreign, unnecessary, and too costly to some companies, but if your business is experiencing any of the below, a well-built, customized, software solution will pay for itself 10X over time...and more often than not, it is more affordable than you think. You don't have to solve all of your problems at once. Attack it like eating an elephant, one bite at a time (was so tempted to use byte there, but couldn't look at myself in the mirror).
Here are some primary areas we try to attack first when we sit down with a business to strategize solutions to help a company drive innovation to perform at their peak potential.
1) Pain Points- Does your company have a laundry list of problems that no matter how much time, money, or hours you throw at it, the problem still exists? Do you have reporting tools that show you some information you need, but not everything? Do you have to wait until the end of the month or year to get a accurate view of the overall health of your business? Is there no process or workflows in place that allows departments to work together seamlessly? Can you just not figure out why it takes so long to a department to do certain tasks?
2) Wish Lists- Almost every company has a wish list of tasks, processes, or gadgets that if they had them in their possession, their day would go a lot smoother. "If we can just find a way to....", "If we could run these two reports, we could...", "If our customers could just interact with us this way, we could..." The idea is often there, but figuring out a way to tactically attain the desired result can often lead to frustration and maintaining the status quo.
3) Lots of Data, No Idea What To Do With It- Most companies today have tons of great data they have collected on their customers and their business over the years. And if they don't, they can easily go purchase it. But once you have it, what do you do with it?Where do you store it so all departments can access it? How can you take raw data and create reports that will perform a variety of functions to improve business function? Wouldn't it be great to use your customer data to predict their future behavior? Can you formulate a forward-looking purchasing or inventory forecast based on historical numbers and current market trends?
4) Consolidation- As companies grow through acquisition, mergers, or just natural growth of a business, they collect a variety of computer systems and platforms to perform various tasks. The idea of a centralized ecosystem has long been thrown out of the window and each department is operating on their own with their preferred platform and siloed data. The ability to break down the barriers between business units, get all systems to "play nice together", and share the same consolidated data doesn't have to be pipe dream. Structuring a collaborative, technology ecosystem is not as daunting as it may seem.
5) Automation- Spreadsheets are great for a lot of things and many successful businesses make a lot of money with a copy of Excel, a mountain of time, and manually entering data and running reports. Custom software can automate so many functions that are manually kept up with and can give back time in the workday to those performing those task. If you could give your key employees 5-10 hours a week to perform higher value functions and look for more business opportunities, wouldn't you want to do it?
Changing anything in life is hard. Fear of failure, the unknown, or disrupting normal daily function can keep businesses stagnant. It may have worked for the past 50 years, and it still may be working today, but at some point, your business will have to innovate or get left behind.
The team at Lofty Labs is in the business of developing software and using emerging technology in order to help businesses run more efficiently and profitably. We are a team of engineers, strategists, marketers and entrepreneurs that are not bound to a specific vertical or niche. We help companies of all shapes and sizes address their pain points and build a better version of their company.
Change is not going to happen overnight, and you don't have to tackle the hardest thing first. Automate some spreadsheets to put some time back into your day, build some dashboards that gives a real-time look at all departments and functions of business, just get some wins under your belt and then go tackle the grizzly bear of a problem that will take more time.