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The lockdown is a great time to analyse and reflect on your business

Posted: 2nd June 2020

Over the last few weeks we have looked at different ways in which technology has helped to overcome the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 crisis. Many companies have had to make quick and sometimes drastic alterations to the way they go about their business, and this will have likely brought up a number of questions around what changes might be effective for long-term success.

As a software design and development agency, we at Bad Dinosaur have a history of investigating, analysing, and advising the decision making process around core business problems. And so, today on the Bad Dinosaur blog, we are going to look a bit more closely at some of the key questions we and our clients have used to make positive changes to their businesses and industries.

Taking the time to really think

It might sound silly to say, but the main reason for stagnation in any business or industry is not due to a lack of creativity or problem-solving skills, but simply that it is easier to go with the status quo, especially when this provides comfortable returns and keeps employees and clients happy. But the status quo will only suffice until the moment a competitor evolves, and playing catchup is never a good way to sustain and grow a business.

On top of this, it has become clear that as opposed to bringing things to a standstill the COVID-19 crisis has caused an acceleration in the population’s behavioural change. Consumers are developing closer ties to local businesses, businesses are becoming more aware of the advantages of remote and non-traditional work setups, and customers are demanding more digital communication than ever before.

Perhaps this period has already brought to light certain processes and practices that you might improve upon, but if you find yourself constantly nagged by a specific problem, if there are time consuming tasks that eat away at your profit margins, or if you recognise something a competitor is doing better than you, perhaps this is the perfect time to consider what exactly you can do about it.

Three core problems that all have solutions

As mentioned earlier, one of our key functions in creating digital solutions for businesses is working with them to discover what exactly their core issues are, and then focusing our work to create the most effective and adaptable software for their business. This, of course, means asking a lot of specific questions to unite our clients’ knowledge with our own, and allowing them to view their business from a new perspective.

So with the idea that lockdown is a time that many businesses will be reflecting on their own core processes, we thought that sharing a few of these questions might be helpful to other businesses.

 

Where is time being wasted?

Efficiency is important, and therefore it is important to understand what a business spends the majority of its time doing. Are these tasks directly monetisable? Do they lead to new customers? New profit avenues? Increased demand? Too often businesses are weighed down by the amount of tedious administrative tasks that have little or nothing to do with their actual income stream, and this results in a waste of valuable resources.

A prime example of this that we often encounter is an over-reliance on manual processes such as spreadsheets or paper systems, which are insecure and require excess work-hours for manual updating. And if the process also relies on client input, then it’s likely the clients will eventually be asking why there isn’t a more streamlined and easy-to-use process in place.

Of course, some businesses might already be doing an excellent job at minimising these types of processes, but with the emergence of new and tailored technologies it is always helpful to remain vigilant to how we might continue to limit such forms of waste.

What technology is being used? Can it be consolidated?

Over the last few weeks of lockdown many businesses will have started using a variety of tech solutions they have never used before—have a look at our Novel tech solutions blog post for examples—and perhaps these free or paid services are exactly the solutions they need for the future, or perhaps their solution isn’t a piece of tech at all. But in a world that is becoming more and more digitally integrated it is important for businesses to consider how they might consolidate tech solutions to avoid complications and redundancies.

In this instance it becomes necessary to consider both what solutions are put to use and how exactly these solutions are being used. Are there multiple platforms being used for only a select few tools? Is the use of technology complicated by switching back and forth between different bits of software? Is the business paying for tech tools that it doesn’t need or use?

It is, of course, rarely possible to have a fully digitally integrated business, but it is vital to consider the ways in which we can simplify the use of technology, and whether it’s building a custom piece of software or downloading a free app, consolidation is a vital part of that process.

How quickly can the business adjust for scale?

Scaling a business can be a difficult topic to discuss because historically it has involved taking on large amounts of risk—if a business wants to grow it needs to invest across the board: in overhead, in employees, in everything. This has traditionally meant that the process is a slow one that takes years rather than months and makes it almost impossible to scale down if there is a fall in demand.

But technology has allowed businesses to scale far more rapidly than in the past and with far less risk as they are able to quickly adjust to fluctuations in the market, caused by anything from seasonal demand to say, perhaps, a worldwide pandemic. This is because tech solutions are not reliant on increases in hiring, as they turn manual processes into digital ones. Similarly, tech products also make it easy for a business to expand their market, as leads times are minimised and costs such as physical delivery become irrelevant.

These are just a few of the things we tend to look at when analysing both our own business and industry, as well as those of our clients. But if you’re looking for more insight, perhaps it might be worth asking trusted and loyal customers what they think of potential solutions? Or looking at solutions that have been used in related businesses or industries?

So, even if you have managed to continue working business-as-usual throughout this period of lockdown, why not stop to think for a while to think about some of those nagging questions you might have? A solution might be nearer than you think.

If you are interested in hearing more about what we are doing, or have an idea that would support your business drop us a message and get in touch.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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