Are You a Master or Slave to Your Systems? 5 Tyrants of fire NOW!

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Are you master or slave to your systems? 5 Tyrants to fire NOW!

“A CRM is only as good as the internal discipline of the team” - Mike Clark

Your systems should work for you, making life easier and enabling you to be more effective and efficient.

Are you a slave to your inbox?

Does your manager have to hound you to capture all details into your CRM?

Do you trust the data in your systems?

Many companies waste hours per day due to poor systems. In the work that I do, the reasons for this are remarkably similar. The 5 biggest tyrants that unduly demand time and attention are:

Double entry of data into different systems due to a lack of system integration

System integration is so easy with modern technology. Double entry of any information has the duel danger of misentry creating mistakes as well as taking twice as long.

This is not always easy to spot initially. Once identified, the proliferation of this often shocks business owners. A great starting point is paper records that are filled in by one person and then captured into your system by someone else. Even as a small business we have seen significant possibilities to save huge amounts of time and increase the accuracy and speed of communication by using platforms such as Google sheets to get customers to fill forms. Rather than sending a PDF that has to be printed, filled in by hand and sent back, downloaded, hand writing deciphered and captured into our system, we can send a link that is filled in and submitted into our system - easier, quicker and more accurate all round.

If your accounts package is not integrated, start looking here - double entry will abound.

How much time do you waste answering the customer question “Where is my product?”  Integrate track and trace into your dispatch notes. Got longer projects where you need to keep the customer updated? Create a customer portal so they can see look up and see where their job is in your system.

Lack of a clear filing system, structure and agreed procedure

How many minutes do you use looking for files on your computer? Are you always confident the copy you have is the latest updated version? Is your company system so complicated that you just keep all your records on your computer so at least you know where to find them when you want them? How often do you and other team members ask where something is - be this paperwork or tools?

Often the sheer perceived enormity of sorting a filing system is so daunting, it keeps being put off. The more this is done the worse it gets. A quick calculation of time spent looking for things + time spent redoing work due to wrong form being used + time spent fixing mistakes created by poor paperwork + time spent complaining about the problem x the number of team members = the real cost and often the incentive and motivation to put something in place.

Tip from Einstein “Make it as simple as possible and not simpler”

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 Lack of training and understanding of what the systems can do for the business

Having the greatest of anything is meaningless if the operator is incapable of using it. Think of a Formula 1 racing car in the hands of someone who can only knows how drive an automatic …

People want to work. People want to be productive. So much so they often find ‘work-arounds’ when they don’t know how to do something. A simple illustration can be found in programmes like MS Word and Excel - Mail merge is a series of clicks or the painful inputting of a lot of names, Excel formulas and pivot tables are a few clicks or hours of inputting and manipulating data.

What is your CRM, ERP, Accounts package capable of? Are you and your team using the full breadth of capabilities or playing on the top of the iceberg?

If a training session could improve every persons usage by 10% what would that be worth to your business?

Poor discipline of the team

A system is only as good as the use of it. Poor discipline accounts for more than just time lost through not capturing information and using the system. The real cost is found in the animosity created between people and departments. Marketing vs sales, sales vs production, production vs admin - it is the formula for creating silos, battle-lines and war zones.

It is not necessarily acrimonious. It can just be, as my kids used to say “irristrating” - Irritating and frustrating. I have tended towards this. An eye opening moment came for me when we kept time sheets for 2 weeks to see where our time went. I noticed that Kiri had recorded over 45 minutes generating a single invoice and when we looked into this it was all because I did not take the 3- 5 minutes needed to update the fields with training programme details. Kiri then had to scroll through all my emails back and forth with this client, looking for the information.


Do you have a great CRM that resembles more of a desert landscape that an abundant forest rich with information and opportunities? This could be a simple lack of discipline. It might also be lack clear expectations. As above, it might be a lack of training and/or understanding why it is important.

The wrong tools being used

This can come in many forms - accounts package being used as CRM, laptop being used where a phone app would be better, office and workshop equipment that does not work properly. How long have you put up with something that you know you should really fix?

Got a window/programme opening on your laptop that you don’t use and you keep meaning to sort it? A stapler in the office that keeps sticking? A trolley in the factory that needs new wheels? These small niggles seem so inconsequential that we often put up with them for far longer than we should. If you have ever had the experience of fixing a niggle and then wondering why you didnt do it ‘ages ago’, you can relate to the small amounts of time and energy these can steal.

As with so many of the above points, it requires moving from knowing about the problem to deciding to fix it. What will you tackle today?

Here’s to your success