Management without spreadsheets!
Using the power of modern systems effectively
How many times have you put a new process in place - with a spreadsheet to monitor and report on it. It is a low cost, readily available way to make improvements. But today there are better ways. Ways that get over the problems that come with spreadsheets used as management tool
Your mission critical spreadsheet
- may not be available online
- may only be available on a single computer
- Is only a "snapshot" with no automatic history of changes made
- has data fields that are all too easy to overwrite or delete
- can easily be lost; moved to a different folder or drive by mistake
- is hard to make secure enough to meet Privacy Law requirements
There are lots of free and low cost alternatives that will give you better security and functionality. You only need to work out which one is best for your process. That's where I can help.
Forget dusty old manuals. One benefit of a modern database is that it can embody your policies, forcing compliance without people needing to remember "the rules" at all times.
Small organisations frequently "borrow policy" from other sources and the resulting "cut and paste" often doesn't sit well. It can also lead you to trying to do too much. For example and to quote business.govt.nz
Many small businesses think by law they must write their H&S efforts down on paper. While this can be useful for some businesses, it’s not legally required and much simpler practices could actually work better.
I'm all about simpler processes that reflect a simpler policy. Then building that policy into a suitably automated database to reduce your monitoring and reporting efforts.
Your technology infrastructure enables for your databases and automated processes. It's always worth checking the capabilities of what you have and comparing them to what you need.
Unless you're business is technology you will probably outsource your IT. But do you have the right supplier? One that "fits" your size, requirments and ambition? Often organisations don't and that holds them back. They may even have the wrong specialists. IT is is like medicine these days - lots of specialisms. You wouldn't go to a podiatrist for heart health; so don't ask your network provider to assist with your website.
One of my most frequent engagements is supporting the selection of a new supplier or a revised contract. This fixed fee service is a mixture of mentoring your team through a technology acquisition process and the provision of advice on what that service proposal actually means in practice.
A system can be anything from paper forms and a filing cabinet to a fully automated computer solution or anything in between.
Today there are lots and LOTS of off the shelf software solutions to choose from. But which one? They all do something slightly different.
I suggest you use my tried and tested process automation method. Using a modern online database, I create forms, automatic replies, reminders and alerts, phone apps and other online components to automate a specified process. You then try out what we've created and see what needs to change. We make the changes and try it again. This helps you work out what you don't know and exactly what kind of software you need. It also build confidence as your team learns how easy it is to add fields, change displays and so on.
NB: Please ask for more details about how this works securely and at no software cost to you.
Last, but most definitely NOT least - helping your people change how they work. The biggest challenge small organisations face when making changes is the time and energy to do it! There is no spare money and everyone is too busy to do something extra. So where do you start?
My answer is "with small steps". Taking one difficult process and making it better. Then another, then another until you are building the confidence and momentum for change.
And prototype; especially if your process is very manual. This allows you to uncover the assumptions everyone makes and the tasks they knows so well they do them on autopilot.
Once the prototype is working well, it is easy to decide on the type of "off the shelf" software solution you'll need.; be that a CRM, a collaboration platform, an events management tool or an integrated mixture of online software applications.