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Spinning Your Business Wheels


Do you feel like you’re just spinning the business wheels?

Ever felt like your business is running in circles, trapped in the day-to-day without progress? It happens in more businesses than you might think, regardless of size. The good news is, there’s a way to get unstuck and start leading the business you’ve always dreamt of having. At CROFTI, we call it Business Process Improvement – or BPI. It’s not an exciting name, but the results can be!

Demystifying Business Process Improvement
It seems obvious when we say it out loud, simply put though: review everything you do, throw out the stuff you don’t need, and make everything else you do need, better! For us, we take a very methodical approach, starting with the people, drilling down on the individual processes, and asking why.

The beauty of all this is that it allows you to create a visual representation of your business. It unveils weak spots, bottlenecks, and my favourite – the steps you can get rid of! Those tasks that “we’ve always done”, but not sure why. From here, we get to move towards a future state. The Improvement part of a BPI.

Strategizing Improvements: What and When to Tackle
The main goal of all this is to create focus on what to address in your business. Sometimes it’s best to do one thing at a time and do it well. Other discoveries may be best tackled in groups. As part of your BPI, it’s important to identify what will have the biggest impact on your margin, your staff morale, and business capability. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew and make everything count!

How to Improve?

The way to improve can vary greatly, and it often relates to whatever the outcome needs to be. We have a few key approaches that I’ll list below. Each of these are probably a How-To on their own so this is a brief overview:

  1. Stay focused on Outcome: Ask why? Why are you even doing this task in the first place. Once you identify a clear outcome, look for alternative paths to get there. Sometimes it’s a product that already exists in market, other times it’s just about taking out the things that don’t need to be there anymore.
  2. What comes immediately before: if you had better defined data coming in, would this process become immediately easier, quicker, or better quality? A common example here is going from plain email requests, to structured forms that feed directly into a CRM or similar system.
  3. Look for Repetition: You’re looking for simple rules – “If I see this, I do that”. If there’s no decision or interpretation involved, there’s many tools in market that can be easily implemented to automate it. Look at things like Microsoft Power Automate, Zapier, and IFTTT.
  4. People: Involve your staff – everyone! Even those you think may not be effective, may not know a lot, or appear as though they could be the problem itself. I’ve found it has two major benefits: It increase overall morale that the business is evolving and they’re helping and staying relevant; and if you do have staff that are the actual problem, they often see the writing on the wall and make their own way out the door. Win-win.


Wait, where’s the AI here?

There’s a lot of hype around AI, particularly when talking about automation in business. There’s good reason, but many jump straight to AI as the saviour to all their problems. I learnt early on – before ChatGPT was even on the scene – that implementing AI successfully requires solid processes and outcomes in the business first! You don’t want to automate a process and all it’s steps if they shouldn’t be happening in the first place!

Where AI plays its part in your BPI is likely going to focus on the decision-making steps, or content creation. That’s where it’s often strongest and can offer the highest value.

The Benefits
For most business owners, going through these steps feels like lifting a veil. There’s some real satisfaction as we go through these steps and immediately see the path to a business win. Here are some example benefits you can expect:

  • Improved customer communication: being able to respond quicker, and with more effective dialogs to close a deal, or maintain that relationship long term.
  •  Production Scale: If you’ve had a backlog of work in the business, and that’s been a limiting factor to your total revenue, you can now get that work out the door quicker. Simply put, ship more product, make more money.
  • Increase margin: With the use of automation, you can now take on more work without needing to increase your workforce costs.
  • Better staff morale: For many staff, a modern workplace that isn’t just boring work is an attractive place to build their career. Often, staff want to have challenges, build their career and opportunities to earn more. Taking out the boring workloads makes this possible.


What’s next?

For us, the BPI is about planning, getting the business aligned to a solid strategy, and understanding budgets and timeframes. This process does not implement the improvement. It simply, but clearly, identifies what and how you should improve your business to get yourself out of that rut. Implementing it comes down to good project management, and a BPI gives the perfect foundation to start your business improvement projects!

Pulling a business processes apart and putting them back together with automation is a real passion of mine. If you would like to talk specifics about your business and see what a project like this under CROFTI is like, you can reach me here.

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