How to Identify your Business Needs and Create Actionable Processes

14-Jul 2016

If someone asked you what your business needs today to be successful tomorrow, how would you answer them? What data (and from where) would you consult for an answer? It’s an important question because you need to truly understand your company’s needs to be able to run a more successful business. The trouble though, is that sometimes those needs aren’t as obvious as they should be. That’s when some internal “digging” is required, but it can be a daunting task if you don’t have the right tools. The good news? Figuring out how to keep your business healthy is simple with the right platform.

Whether or not you’re running your company on a smart technology platform, here are three steps you can take to identify your business’ needs and create actionable processes to move it forward:

1. Define your business objective

A clear business objective will be your North Star when identifying your business needs and a way forward. Perhaps you have a consulting firm or a digital agency and your objective is to increase revenue - that’s great. To be effective though, you’ll need to get more granular than that. How do you want to increase revenue? It might mean getting a better view into your profitability to identify new revenue channels or simply increasing efficiency to maximize your return. What’s important to know is that you won’t have a clear answer as to how you should go about achieving your objective until you dig into some data and gain some visibility into what’s going on in your business.

2. Analyze your data and workflows

While this is the natural next step in getting the answers you need, it’s often the hardest part. Getting your hands on the data you need to make decisions with confidence is difficult when all your work is scattered between different spreadsheets and tools that don’t talk to each other. If the idea of gathering the right data to do this analysis sounds daunting, you may want to think about different platforms that can make this simpler. If you’re in the marketing or design space and want a platform to manage your projects, Mavenlink is a good option since it lets you track time, expenses, and resources. Or, if your company works in IT, Autotask combines your service desk, sales, projects, and billing into one solution. On the other hand, if you need a smart platform that’ll connect all of your tools and want to get a complete view of how efficient and profitable your business is, then give Accelo a try.

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To put things into perspective, Brendon O’Sullivan, CEO of Big Blue Digital, found himself in a similar boat. He knew he and his team were working harder than ever and yet the numbers weren’t adding up. While he tried to do some digging into the agency’s financials, he realized there were a lot of blind spots over where people were spending their time and how profitable their projects were. That realization enabled him to see that his company was struggling because of ineffective tools and processes, which were getting in the way of their objective: increasing revenue. These pain points pushed him to invest in smarter technology so that he could gain better visibility into his business.

3. Communicate findings with your team

Once you’re able to easily view all this information and see your business “naked” (in all it’s glory) there’s no covering up what doesn’t look right. Asking questions like: “how does my revenue line up with how my team is working?” or “are there patterns in how my team communicates or completes client work that eats away at our bottom line?” won’t be difficult to answer. Brendon for instance, noticed right away that Big Blue Digital’s delayed billing process was hurting their cash flow, big time.

After investing in smarter technology, one of the things Brendon was able to do was go from a 60-day invoice cycle to a 18-day invoice cycle (reducing it by 70%). To identify your business needs, you need to have a clear business goal - Big Blue Digital’s was to increase revenue (and they did that by getting rid of inefficient processes). However, you can’t figure out how best to achieve your goal without readily available and reliable data. You need visibility into your business to make smarter decisions and confidently move your company forward.

Create a Plan

Now that you have an understanding of your business objectives, analyzed your data, and shared the results with your team, the next step is to create a plan. When you're developing a list of actionable steps your team will need to take, be realistic, and specific. Think about what success really means you to and see if you can create a quantifiable and measurable objective to track improvement. Lastly, keep your objectives in mind and ensure each task results in the desired outcomes.

This step will take some time, but by putting careful thought into creating a practical plan, you're increasing the chances of success while reducing the chances of failure, frustration, and a shift in plans. Creating a roadmap is the best way to keep your team on track and focused.

Conclusion

The steps listed above are necessary to determine your business needs and identify new processes that will drive the business towards success. By taking out the time to do the foundational work, you will be able to plan further ahead and remain focused on achieving your business goals. Remember - this isn't a task you need to tackle alone.  If you're looking for a smart platform that can set you up for long-term growth, give Accelo a try. Our mission is to help professional service firms manage their business operations seamlessly and efficiently. Sign up for a free trial today.

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