It’s a thought provoking question, but if you use systems and processes to run your business, are any of the following true?
- Your team are not following processes consistently
- You’re not experiencing the value of the data stored in your system
- Some of your team members fight using the system, because it takes them too much time to do what they need to do, with lots of other competing demands on their time
- You can’t trust the reports you generate because the data is often inaccurate or out of date
These are just a sample of the issues we encounter working with companies, who, with the best of intentions, have put systems in place to run and help them grow their business, but then discover that users are not really using them.
There are some pretty compelling reasons why it is often the case that users don’t really use systems, here’s some that we’ve heard over the years:
- “I input data but no-one uses it, so what’s the point?!”
- “The system screens are too complicated, and it’s confusing which fields need to be completed and which don’t”
- “It takes up too much of my time, I don’t benefit from using the system”
- “It’s a nightmare, we enter data into 3 different spreadsheets – there’s duplication everywhere”
Sales people want to spend their time selling, marketing people want to spend their time marketing, operations people want to spend their time delivering your product or service for your customers, and customer service people want to keep existing customers happy.
The users of your systems are people. People who are unique, with different levels of knowledge, different motivations for coming to work, different skills and abilities, and different views about what’s important to them during their day.
If your systems do not cater for the needs of the people using them every hour of every working day, they will begrudge using the system, place little value on the system, and gradually your users will not really use your system, and your data will deteriorate, leaving untapped potential in your teams.
Untapped potential, because suddenly individual spreadsheets start popping up which are saved on individual user’s drives, people start to remember things about customer or client interactions which are not written down centrally for the benefit of other team members, you start to lose trust in the data behind your key management reports…the list goes on!
There is an answer! Spend an hour doing one of your team’s work with them. If that results in a difficult, time consuming, and frustrating hour of your life, multiply that by 40 – because that’s what your team experiences each week they work with these systems.
Ask your team member about a task in the system that takes 1 hour per week which they think could be run more efficiently, that’s 46 hours per year allowing for 6 weeks leave. If that user’s hourly rate with oncosts is £15 that’s costing you £690 a year in staff time. Multiply this by the number of users, then multiply this by the number of other tasks that could be made to run more efficiently. Usually this results in a pretty big number. Add to this the downtime of user frustration and the reduced productivity as a result. Some of this number can be used to invest in improving your systems and processes, and improving the working lives of people in your business.
A happier workforce is a more productive workforce. Underpinning a happier workforce is a positive attitude where people get things done better and faster. With a happier workforce you get more time back because your team are working effectively, and you can rely on the system to produce the reports you need based on data you trust.
It’s not always easy, it takes courage to deal with the problem, motivation to help people through their frustrations, and continued discipline from everyone at all levels to place a continuous culture of customers first and the importance of good data at the heart of your business.
Improving your systems includes some or all of the following:
- Reviewing and improving processes which may not have changed in line with how the business has changed
- Better screen design resulting in an improved user experience by removing confusion about which fields to update and when
- Designing input forms that are specific to people’s roles – if someone only needs 3 fields on the screen but someone else needs 40 fields, provide them with different forms
- People themselves benefitting from the data they enter, by running reports that help them understand their jobs better
- Reducing the number of systems used to stop data duplication and user frustration
All My Systems optimise the fit between people, systems and data to help drive sustainable growth. Our team has over 12 years’ experience building user driven systems and databases, witnessing the power they have in releasing untapped potential across a business.