The business landscape is an ever-changing game. What works today will not tomorrow. Continuous improvement in almost all aspects of your operations is required to prevent the common business problems most enterprises face today.
For every unicorn start-up or success story, there are 100s that bite the dust daily. The entire buzz from over evaluation, mass funding can only sustain so long.
Be it Meru Cabs & Hertz in India that got eaten by the likes of Uber and Ola or the most recent We Work!
One thing experience tells me is that, most of these problems aren’t unique or of a size where they cannot be managed successfully and neither do all of them require innovation & costs.
In hindsight, it is about nipping them in the bud instead of ignoring or procrastinating for another time. And this is when things tend to grow out of hand with irreparable damage.
So what are the common yet very probable business problems to watch out for in 2020?
Innovation is a hefty word. We all like to use and flaunt it as much as we like. It is indeed an integral part of a business but not always advisable.
Before setting up and committing significant resources on your next innovation, look within and around!
Understanding your business is one thing but how relevant and aligned is it with your customer Diaspora and your market is entirely different.
Rapid technological advancements have reduced the competitive gap and benefits of early go to market strategy. Whatever new you build will be done by someone within the next few months.
Your competition will catch-up with you and will do so faster than you think!
The smart thing to do is to identify the key differentiators in your product and service offerings.
Spend time on qualitative analysis of your most sought after product, the customer segment and the queries or requests revolving around these products.
Innovate with tweaks and improvements in your offerings. Do not redefine them with a huge expenditure.
Find correlation in terms of pricing, additional features, look and feel, license or support terms, etc.
You will soon find what resonates best with your customers and industry.
Yes, there is the other question of taking things to the next level. If so look around for advancements that can be leveraged instead of reinventing the wheel or doing it all yourself and again.
You will be able to avoid the common pitfalls and instead adopt what is already available and start making money in less than half the investment.
Lastly, unlearn and learn!
Ignoring your Processes
We are over-obsessed with execution and often overlook established processes. This is a practice that must be curtailed except for extraordinary circumstances.
The processes were defined for a purpose to maintain transparency, ease of getting things done and overall visibility at an organization level.
If you feel the processes aren’t up to mark; optimize them by all means.
But before that, ensure that the processes are easy to follow, socialized enough within the organization and there is adherence.
I will not follow process A as I don’t like it or it is time-consuming isn’t an answer.
Process adoption must be a key part of your team’s roles and responsibilities. Make sure, the processes are
- Easy to understand
- Have supporting platforms
- Help get things done efficiently
Cumbersome processes will always have minimum adoption. Invite feedback on why certain processes aren’t working.
Define processes that are closely aligned & enable the desired outcomes.
Adopting the “right” collaboration tools
Enterprises invest heavily in state-of-the-art collaboration tools. They at times go overboard and implement a bunch of them too.
Well, there may be enough justification for having multiple tools.
But then how well are the adopted by your teams?
With any tool implementation, understanding the company’s work culture and processes is the key.
Before diving in, identify the key areas that you want to improve with the tool.
- Is it the most aligned solution for our established processes?
- Will it require radical shifts in the way things are done today?
- How quick is it to implement and adopt?
- Will it support/scale with our operations?
- How does it improve our team’s efficiency?
In most cases, enterprises spend a lot of time and money in getting the right mix of tools and processes and end up with chaos. Either there is a steep learning curve at the employees’ end or tool that needs too many tweaks.
The other conundrum is centered on pricing. The one that fits might be too expensive or may not be capable of supporting or scaling with your enterprise. And the one that is easy on the pockets needs a lot of heavy-lifting at your end.
Lookout for tools that offer a holistic set of features right from project management, time tracking, bug tracking, ticketing, resource management, task management, timesheets, role-based access control, project budgets, role-based costs, and intensive reporting and analytics.
A comprehensive platform with the above features will cover a wide range of your operations from marketing, product development, engineering, customer support, and HR departments.
The “Perfect Release” Syndrome
More often than not, we are all guilty of getting stuck with perfectionism.
It’s a cliché but “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is it smart to attempt for it!”
Make a MVP and test it out with a restricted user community. Seek inputs and feedback from your most loyal and fanatic customers.
You can always go back to the drawing board and make changes.
The world today is all about fail fast to succeed faster and do not fail at the same thing twice!
Calmer seas never made a seasoned sailor. Let your product or offering test the muddy waters, receive feedback as honest or hurtful it maybe but in the end you will save yourself a lot of time, effort and money.
Marketing wizards today run all sorts of pre-launch campaigns, teasers to build the buzz and curiosity around products. Get them all excited and collect inputs and requests.
These programs offer a lot of insights into market demand, actual user needs and also confirm your offering’s market fit.
So why waste time?
Self-doubt isn’t going to take you far. Launch a small piece but ensure it does what it is supposed to do and you are all set. Bugs or goof-ups in your MVP are a big no.
Ignoring Employee Happiness
This problem is prevalent since like forever.
Yet, enterprises still fail to cater to it successfully.
A wise man once said your employee is your first customer. I don’t remember who
Tend to your employees as you would your customers and you’ve won 50% already!
The global work culture today has made it easy to obtain talent. The challenge as always is with retaining them.
The digitized workforce today is not very fond of the 9 to 5 tabletop work practice. Though young, they are responsible and accountable.
Trust them and ensure your organization practices are in-sync with the times.
Again collaboration & project management tools come in handy to work with global and remote teams with increased productivity and quality deliverables.
You need not make heavy investments in terms of money. Rather simpler alternatives like enabling the right collaboration & work management tools and work-friendly practices like work from home, Flexi-timings, bring your own device (BYOD) will do just fine.
You end up saving money from real estate and other IT costs too. There are some security concerns too, but then they too can be dealt with the right processes and policies in place.
As far as you are able to monitor, analyze and deliver desired business outcomes you are doing things right.
I am sure you will have a list of your own. But the ones listed above are the simplest of issues if attended strategically can make a marked difference to your business.
It’s all about being proactive and taking a holistic view of your current practices, processes, operations vis. a vis. the market leader of your segment.
The whole game plan is about the end to end alignment across your departments and last-mile integration.
You cannot have different practices for different teams unless the business warrants it.
Other than that you will do just fine!