BE THINKING...

The Next Normal

9th June 2021 | Becky Filtness, Support Lead

Blue Edge have been working hard to plan for the “next normal”. We’re 3 months into using a brand new system which called for a complete overhaul of our processes and a new mindset in the way we work as a team. It’s a work in progress but here are the 4 things we have learnt to do:

1. YOU GOTTA GO ALL IN

Complete systems change is not for the faint-hearted. The first thing we had to do is overcome our knee-jerk reactions: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, or the ever-easy-to-say “sounds expensive”.

Our previous system took a lot of effort to implement, and it was hard kicking it to the kerb. We had to swallow our pride and accept that our system was not fit for our future.

After we killed it, we did a thorough post-mortem which really helped us get over the next hurdle. Cost. There is no way round it. A new system will cost you.

But consider this: Your old system might already be costing you in places you didn’t realise. It turns out, some of our previous processes were a bit woolly. They relied on lots of manual entry or were really time consuming. This meant that we were able to reduce our overheads by getting our systems to do the hard work for us.

Have you ever used a system where you don’t know what all the buttons do? Or are there buttons you never use? You’re paying for those buttons. Maybe change to a system that only has the buttons you need?

By interrogating our business in this way, we were able to improve cost-efficiency and save more money for… well, BEER!

2. SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP

For some of our team, this was another bitter pill. As a team, we are pretty gung-ho about trying things out ourselves. In fact we pride ourselves on it.

In the past, our endless optimism saw us gamely programming our previous system to get round whatever roadblocks we were facing at the time. We didn’t have a strategy for implementing or testing system-wide improvements, nor an audit trail for the decisions we made or why we made them. Given what we know now, our previous approach was mind-blowingly impractical.

This time round, we used a separate company to set-up the system and train us on how best to customise it. With their ongoing support we are saving so much time and money from the first month after rollout. For example, a month-end finance process that previously took us 5 days was completed in a record 2-day sprint and we were all still friends after. If that’s not progress, we don’t know what is.

3. INVOLVE YOUR TEAM

If you are a “systems geek” it’s easy to assume that you are the expert and that your team-mates don’t know what you’re talking about. Previously, to change systems we volunteered a “tribute” to lock themselves in a room for a week, transfer over all the data and press go. The same person would then be driven crazy trying to sort out all the issues that they hadn’t foreseen and hadn’t been trained to resolve.

By going for a gradual rollout, we got the whole team involved in every step of the set-up; designing processes to suit real-life use cases, for issues they were coming up against most often.

4. OWN IT

Getting the team involved had another advantage for us. It meant that we could create a process with them in mind, and then let them control the day-to-day running of it. They were trained on the parts of the system that they would own and were the first point of call for any issues. Bigger problems would be passed back to the systems geek who would in turn refer back to the expert support team as needed. This reduced bottlenecks and avoided single-point failure. It has also made for a happier team and a more balanced dynamic.

We’re not gonna lie, it’s pretty good. We’re pleased. Go us.

We could tell you that our work here is done, but old habits die hard. We always want to push ourselves so we’re turning our attention to preparing for the “next normal”. We’re planning to automate manual processes, create an interactive portal and offer more detailed reports to our clients.

Better systems? Check.
Better processes? Check.
Better haircuts? We’re still working on that!

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