Growing Pains

Grant Robertson

Over the years I’ve spent time with some amazing companies. Many have innovation and disruption at their core; young, fast growing companies challenging the larger market leaders.

In these companies the trajectory and drive are always upwards and forwards, but as a career technologist it is fascinating for me to see how each business has evolved their IT and systems structure.

Some are mature in this area and the rest were, to put it politely, not so much. They’re experiencing what I like to call ‘growing pains’. A lot of these pains are avoidable, with the right approach.

Here are my 6 top Growing Pains to avoid:

  1. Trust in the system - can you?

If you have too many manual integration points and staff are forever reconciling data from one system to another, often with no answer for the differences in the numbers, then you can’t trust the system.

This situation means it’s near impossible to deliver the timely analysis and reporting as demanded by your business partners.

It’s vital to have one source of truth and one point of transaction entry so that you can trust the data you analyse and trust the P&L numbers generated from them.

  1. Expansion, expansion, expansion

Perhaps your business plan already includes expanding into new regional markets, or even going global.  Do you know that your systems will support that?

The days of budgeting and paying for that ever-expanding IT department and rapidly aging hardware are gone. It’s the Cloud you need, delivered for you by an experienced partner.

With the Cloud you get infrastructure elasticity to support your growth, with a global footprint to match your global ambitions, accessible anywhere, at any time, on any device.

  1. Time is of the essence

Often, I see people who are hamstrung by time - the amount of time their incumbent partners or vendors are proposing for IT modernisation projects, including scoping and requirements gathering.

In most cases a lot of this time is not needed. I’m not talking about completing a project quickly just to meet a deadline. What I’m talking about is the fact that in most industries 80% of every business is the same, so in the ERP world for example you don’t need to custom build every report.

With the right vendor this translates to fast time-to-value because you can be up and running with most of what you need in a short time. It’s time to forget the long slow grind and move to out-of-the-box.

  1. Budget Certainty

Perhaps you are still wrestling with those desperately needed cash flow projections, which include business system spend projections for the next 3 - 5 years. How on earth can you achieve certainty within that length of a time frame?

The answer lies again in the Cloud and subscription services. Moving to a SaaS system provides absolute budget certainty and moves you from a capital expenditure model to operating expenditure, where you only pay for what you need and use.

  1. Spaghetti Junction

 Spaghetti Junction is the point in your business growth where a jumble of spreadsheets and disparate pieces of software is what you use to run your business.

The problem is these systems don’t work together and you don’t have a clear picture of what’s happening in your business.

To make matters worse, if you have Spaghetti Junction syndrome then your head is in the grind of the daily detail, so you’re not focused on strategy or on growing your business.

  1. Exit Strategy

You always need to be ready for what could happen next. Two “next step” scenarios are common to fast growing business.

Firstly, you’re going to look overseas: with our small population we’re an export led country, so at some point you’re going to have to start (or maybe you already are) working in pounds, pesos, euros, yuan or yen. Can you make it simple to consolidate multiple countries, currencies and locations?

Secondly, external investors or potential buyers might appear, or an IPO could be in your future. Investors want accurate reporting, so they feel confident they are putting money into a company that knows where it’s at and where it’s going. Can you provide that if you have Spaghetti Junction syndrome?

They will also want to be sure they don’t get the booby prize and have to replace company systems after you exit, so it’s better to escape Spaghetti Junction now!

To learn more about Spaghetti Junction and how to avoid this, and the other growing pains in your business, click here.

 

Grant Robertson

 

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