This post is the third in a series on dealing with growth through business architecture. In the first article we covered how and why to understand your business capabilities. In the second article, I shared about the importance of establishing metrics and controls. In this post we will make a pivot to discuss how you keep supporting growth while your organization works to digitize and automate for limitless scalability.
By now you have an understanding of the capabilities, major functions, and the supporting processes. Beyond that, you now also have metrics to track historical performance and projection information that indicates where the scaling issues will be most severe. These scalability hot spots are where you are not yet automated, so the team needs to be as strong as possible…which is where training comes in.
Digitization of the work flow whenever possible should be the end goal, but most fast-growing companies inevitably have a period of time where they just need to have an immediate solution, and that means throwing more bodies at the demands of growth. Accept this as a (short term) fact of life, but key to minimizing the pain of internal confusion, costly errors, and customer dissatisfaction is training people who work in the most critical areas.
Don’t train, just hire smart people
“This is just a bunch of big company crap that we don’t have time for, just hire smart people and they will figure it out.”
This kind of thinking will work when your company is small, but when you run out of people to poach from your prior employer, something that can scale is needed, and that means you need to train.
Variability needs to be eliminated and standard flow for how to get work done needs to be down pat. It is hard to even imagine a McDonald’s without the consistent experience customers have come to expect. Without the practice of consistency, growth become increasingly expensive to sustain.
Too many deals are being lost to competitors? Train, certify and recertify your sales people.
Trouble getting all the necessary info for month end close from other departments? Train managers about what is needed, when, why, and the impact it has on the business. Interestingly, most managers have no idea that sitting on a vendor invoice because they have not gotten around to approving it causes problems.
Contracts coming through with nonstandard billing terms or missing professional services? Train the people who create quotes about how to quality check the order before it goes to the customer.
Training does not have to require giant conference rooms full of people that are away from their work days on end. Training can, and should, be quick, inexpensive, and focused on the role and the task. Thinking about the role and the task is essential to effective training. “You are a _______ and you are trying to do _____, here is how you do that.”
Don’t sit everyone down for 6 hours of training on how the reporting module works and what buttons to click. Give the sales people a 45 second video about how to run a list of prospects, and a 90 second video about how to look up an item in the ERP. Provide product management with a 60 seconds overview of how to query the idea management database and export it to excel. This is practical since they likely want to do their analysis in excel and don’t really care about the reports that come from the tools.
Without a doubt, good quality training and an LMS are going to be necessary for some subjects; HIPPA compliance comes to mind, but that is not what this series of articles is about. This is all about what is the most effective way to deal with the growing pains of scaling fast.
Tip: Many tasks just need to build consistency and share the knowledge of an expert, a recorded WebEx and a work instruction as a cheat sheet will do nicely!
Where are we and what’s next
These three articles we have covered a lot of ground…The last article we will cover in this series on dealing with growth through business architecture is digitization. It’s a popular term right now but understanding what it means for SaaS software companies is critical for long-term success.
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