Capturing your internal business intelligence leads to knowledge and wisdom.
Things you need to know about your business
Over recent years, data, information and knowledge have become the lifeblood of businesses, non-profit organisations and communities. Those who have harnessed the power of business intelligence by empowering users to find competitive advantages and innovate faster.
The constant changes cause tension in organisations between the old way and the new modern approach. Challenges are growing fuelled by globalisation and technology developments.
Have things become better or worse than before? Once you’ve taken a look at your current status it is important to put it into perspective. There are almost certain to be things you’ve learned since the last time you evaluated your systems and processes and you’ll want to implement changes where warranted.
Where is your organisation headed and how will you cope if you don’t have good business intelligence? The objective is to learn from your past successes and failures. Keep or reinstate what worked and discontinue what did not. If you do not change direction, you may end up some place far removed from your aspirations.
Your operating status
Is your business running smoothly or are there some bumps in the road? Simply put, check to see if all the right systems and processes are in place and if they are functioning properly. By way of example, if you have a retail store (bricks and mortar and/or online) are orders being filled promptly and correctly? If not, why not and what needs to be done to fix the problem?
If you make and sell products, think about how and where they are being made and how they are being used. Are manufacturers meeting your deadlines? Do you find yourself out-of-stock on some products and carrying huge inventories on others? Is current machinery adequate for what you want to sell in 6 months or a year from now? If not, what will it take to get there?
If you provide services, is your staff performing? Are your customers having a good customer experience? Are appointments being missed or clients kept waiting? Do you have all the tools you need to make your customer service the best it can be? Are you using modern technology and content marketing to improve your customer service?
“Allowing your stakeholders to ask questions can provide huge value. But it’s easier if they know how to gather their own intelligence and answer their own questions”. Peter Sergeant
Your financial status
Are you continually experiencing cash flow problems? Cash flow problems are usually a symptom of something more serious. How are your cash flow and working capital issues being addressed?
Is your organisation investor ready? Although you can’t control all the economic factors that impact your business, you can review your financial history and determine if there are things you could be doing more efficiently?
Also, make sure that your financial housekeeping is in order. How accurate and reliable are your bookkeeping and accounting systems/ Should you be engaging a better accountant/ Are your bills being paid on time or are you risking your good reputation?
Are you satisfied that everything possible is being done to collect outstanding debtors? If they are not, what else might you do to improve collections? Are your management reports covering everything you need to cover and are they being delivered on time, every time?
How much old or obsolete inventory do you have that could be turned int cash and space used more productively? What plant and equipment are underutilised and what is obsolete that could be turned into cash. Should you be sharing some of your resources to reduce costs?
Your staff and volunteers status
Is everyone pulling their weight and doing the right things while working at the right speed? In addition to evaluating productivity, can you determine if there are any gaps in your staffing structure? Do some of your employees and volunteers have learning needs that should be addressed? How is morale and could you be introducing more technology and a more flexible working environment. Are your best employees really happy about their working location and environment?
Your partnerships status
Do you have sufficient partnerships? Are they the right ones for your type of business and are they performing to your satisfaction? If not why not?
Would you be able to do more delegating and outsourcing if you were able to improve the partnerships in your value chain?
Current challenges and decisions
What’s Next? Based on the Internal assessments you have made, determine if there are any challenges which need to be addressed, be they immediate or longer-term. If there are, set at least one strategy for each challenge and make whatever appropriate decisions are necessary.
The same is true for opportunities. What ideas and opportunities do you have that nothing has been done about? Are you promoting from within and are your people happy with their progress? Should you be purchasing new technology and equipment?
As part of your plan for moving ahead, build in a monitoring system, including dashboards, that works for you and re-evaluate the situation on an on-going basis. Annual reviews of your business no longer cut the mustard.
Many businesses find doing a regular Business Health Check most useful in keeping up to date with the problems and opportunities in the organisation. This is a good way to immediately start improving your planning and performance.
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It can take you years to learn how to run your business well. If you’re already running your own business, you know that there are constant changes and challenges to your ongoing success. If you don’t focus on knowing what is going on, that success will keep eluding you and the struggles will continue and probably get worse.
It’s easier to meet the challenges of change, and ensure your business continues to grow and thrive if you have solid information about your basic business activities. From technology to taxes, insurance, and contracts through financing, marketing, customer service, websites, social media and being the boss.
While there is much to know about, fortunately, most of it is easy to find. The complexity comes these days because there is so much to know that you need good systems and processes.