Attention to Details

Pay Attention to the Details

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

How to Boost Productivity

A 2017 study by NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) revealed that 56% of small business owners consider communication is key to boosting productivity. Further, it stated that the most powerful way to boost productivity is to optimize task management systems, so that the details don’t become protracted, and processes are easily captured and repeated.  

No surprise that small business owners have too much to do in too little time. According to the study, a majority of them (72 percent) felt overwhelmed by their roles and responsibilities and a good percentage see time management as a bane.

The Devils in the Details

Our industry is a detail oriented Industry.  There are many projects and many tasks which are often managed in very tight timelines.   Ironically, although most Systems Integrators’ Businesses include automation systems in their product offerings, many are not using internal automation systems to manage their processes and business details. 

Effectively capturing processes that follow a project from lead through to sign-off and then over to customer service should be table stakes.  The Systems Integration Industry has decades of experience under their belt with some good best practice tools available.  Process capture and automation should be a given. 

Create Process

A Systems Integrator firm needs to create a process, a workflow, that can be documented and deployed, with a few fundamental rules.   The workflow incorporates every step from lead, through customer service.  Processes are clearly established in the firm, and they guide staff to ensure both effective and consistent delivery.   Processes are never static, they are living, as are the documents and systems that capture and deploy them.

Given that 40 to 60% of the business conducted by Systems Integrators involves labor, tracking systems are important.  Easy words, but most of the chaos in small business, and especially in the Systems Integration Industry, comes through the doing of unnecessary, or poorly undertaken tasks (including communication).

We’d all agree that training is important, so too are clearly thought through processes and tasks, well documented and captured through repeatable systems.   The need to review with stakeholders every project at every stage, ensuring alignment, tasks confirmed, and timelines agreed to, is an important part of this.   What doesn’t get into the right workflow, creates chaos, distracting management, frustrating clients and costing everyone, in both dollars and energy.

Addicted to Process

Well run firms are addicted to processes.  These cover all aspects from handshake through signoff, right down to task lists with the capture of outstanding details and accountabilities.  Every form is a living document, post reviews at every stage are important, as are handoffs to other teams.  From project kickoff through to post project reviews and customer service handoff, it is all about details and communication. 

There is a reason that 72% of small businesses are overwhelmed.  It is most likely a lack of systems and processes that ensure their use, their review and their effectiveness.

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.