Fotolia_50590735_XS-300x200.jpgLately I’ve been talking with many clients and potential clients who are interested in growth. Although rapid growth is exciting, it can also be one of the most challenging to navigate. Systems can provide the perfect tool to leverage for success – whether your company is small or big.

Even the strongest of my clients are deterred with rapid growth. In many cases, the client is still relatively small and concerned with cash flow yet they are starting to experience “big company” problems. For example, customers do not care what you have to do to service them. They expect you’ll have what they need where they need it when they need it. Just think about Amazon. Same day and next day delivery has become commonplace. E-commerce capabilities and mobility (seeing the information on your cell phone and iPad) are expectations.

Similarly, larger companies also can benefit from systems. One of the best ways to gain new customers, new items and to cross-sell is to upgrade your capabilities. If you can stand out from the crowd by leveraging systems behind the scene, you can achieve great success. So, how can systems be leveraged for growth? There are several ways: 1) Volume.  2) Best practice processes.  3)  Automation.

Undoubtedly, one of the tenets of a system is that it is a vehicle to be leveraged to support significantly higher volumes without additional effort. Whether your customers buy 1 or 100 and whether you have 5 or 1000 customers does not matter to a system; however, it matters greatly if these transactions must be completed manually. The system will then figure out how many components and materials are needed to support these customer requirements. In essence, the system can function as a “big calculator” to cover these types of volume increases.

Next, the system will support best practice processes. Unfortunately I’ve seen clients (and people) who have the latest and greatest technology available yet they fail miserably. The reason this occurs is that they do not take the time to think through the optimal process to be utilized with the system. One way to think about this is “garbage in, garbage out”. A system will only calculate “junk” faster if you don’t focus time and attention on your processes. How can you set up your daily, weekly and monthly routine to best support your business? Build these into your system, and your system will become invaluable to growth.

The opportunity to automate is another advantage of leveraging a system for growth. There are countless opportunities to automate in every business. I’ve yet to walk into a new client without significant potential to take steps out of processes by having the computer perform steps and calculations for you within a set of guidelines. For example, instead of manually calculating what you need to produce in order to meet your customers’ needs, an ERP system will figure that out for you and provide you with a recommended plan for review. Then, our job becomes managing exceptions and adding value instead of performing routine tasks.

There are countless reasons to consider implementing a new system, upgrading your system or further leveraging your system to support growth. I see it as one of several “capacity items” that need to be put in place to support growth. If your sales people can sell without inhibition because they know you’ll have the capacity (people, processes, systems, machines, etc.) available, imagine what can be achieved!

Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

Leverage Your ERP System for Bottom Line Results 

6 Process & Systems Trends for Success