Imagine this scenario: Your business has superior processes and efficiencies in place for R&D. As long as payroll is made on time, sales are coming in and operations are otherwise running smoothly, you don’t question what is going on in your non-development related departments. Then, the person who’s been running your human resources department for 10 years leaves.
All of a sudden, claims are slipping through the cracks, payrolls are missed and there are major issues with your vendors. These are the very real problems that arise in businesses every day when they rely too much on the knowledge of their long-term employees and fail to transfer that knowledge into systems. In many companies, there always seems to be that one person in every department who has been there the longest and knows the most. But this knowledge does not last forever. Once this person leaves the company, you may have to start over in many ways — and that’s when time and money are lost.
You’ve likely gone to great lengths to implement processes with your development team so your products don’t fail. Now is the time to do the same with your other teams so your business doesn’t fail.
Hands-off the tactical work
For starters, you can outsource, locally, the operations that are imperative to running your business. Customer service and HR are two areas that are worth looking into, along with sales-lead generation, training and technical support. This doesn’t always mean you have to cut your own teams. Many times, companies find that the managers they already have in place running sales, support and HR, can be much more effective overall when the more mundane and automated tasks are outsourced. Pairing internal technological systems with outsourcing to companies that specialize in any one area not only can improve efficiencies, but also prevent disaster when the internal manager leaves. Companies that outsource their operations see many benefits, including:
- More efficient operations that are automated and run seamlessly, no matter what’s going on inside the company.
- Fewer missed deadlines, as results aren’t dependent on one person who may be the bottleneck, preventing operations from moving freely.
- Better performance from employees who are freed up to work more on big-picture strategy.
- Better team work and company culture, as there is less confusion over who handles which responsibilities.
Find the technology
It’s amazing how many companies are still using manual spreadsheets and logs to track things such as benefits, billing and sales leads. What good is your best salesperson’s lead-generation strategy, for instance, if it’s recorded on a document that only he or she can decipher? Your business needs visibility into how results are accomplished every day, in every department, so work doesn’t ever miss a beat.
So what technology solutions does your company need? CRM (customer relationship management)? Online time sheets? Benefits tracking? Start with those managers who are hoarding all that great knowledge. Ask them to research and implement solutions that will easily capture and communicate the processes they’re putting into action every day. The greatest benefit here is that once others have visibility into how your internal “experts” are working, they can learn from those experiences and improve their own performance. The expertise of your best players isn’t being put to full use if those who work alongside them aren’t learning from it. Additionally, if everything is being captured and shared correctly through these systems, then any new person should be able to step in and take over rather seamlessly.
If you do explore the outsourcing route, the vendors you use may also be able to point you to the best technologies available to help streamline the processes. For instance, your HR company should be able to help you find timesheets, reporting and other tracking systems that easily integrate into their own systems. Same with your lead generation company, which should be able to recommend the best CRM or CMS (content management system) for your business. This may seem like a tedious and expensive undertaking, but most companies find they save money and improve productivity (and their bottom line) greatly over time.
Hiring the best people to run your various operational needs is an important task for every company. But hiring the best expert you can find is only the first step. Do your business a favor for the long-term and make sure that expertise is shared and supported in a way that ensures smooth operations.