Business growth is always at the forefront of conversation in the C-Suite. From executives to shareholders to board members, most questions and many answers revolve around the future and how to make it better, bigger, and brighter for the organization.
“How do we grow in the right direction?”
“How do we increase the top line?”
“What’s holding us back from better margins, a better bottom line?”
“What should we be doing to get from where we are to where we want to be?”
Growth conversations at established companies are quite different from those at newer organizations. A bootstrapped new business has great flexibility to move to new areas of opportunity without being too disruptive to the status quo. A small startup with a venture capital infusion will make different decisions and perform different experiments in search of product/market fit. Even a mid-sized organization not quite established in the market might take more ambitious swings and push itself on projects and initiatives. But an organization that already has a foothold in a specific sector or industry and a foundation of existing customers? Growth isn’t about making changes in search of results but rather about taking the results that already exist and ramping them up.
At Informulate, when we work with organizations looking to grow revenues their most common initial thought is to find talent – how do we increase headcount. But if you need twice as many people to deliver twice as much revenue, your business may be growing, but it isn’t scaling. Employee headcount tracking proportionally with other growth metrics is simply adding more zeros to every line of the balance sheet and P/L… not real progress.
The difference between Growth and Scale
The key to meaningful growth for established businesses is about rapid increase in productivity – taking business processes and making them less reliant on people to actually get done. This is best done with software and the result is true Digital Transformation of a business.
If the 1950’s and 60’s were about automating blue-collar activities like manufacturing and production, then the 1970’s saw the advent of automation for white-collar and in-office activities. New systems for managing human resources, invoices and payments, and logistics changed the face of business by taking oft-repeated processes typically done by hand and performing them through software. In fact, an entirely new category of software – ERP or “enterprise resource planning” – was introduced to the business world.
Now businesses weren’t just able to grow, they are able to scale. Scaling means getting more productivity and greater business gains without having to add correlative headcount. Software, especially Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or Business Process Automation (BPA) enables businesses to scale faster than ever before. Gartner lists RPA technology as the fastest growing segment in enterprise software.
Why? Because the new set of tools like UIPath and Robot Framework have completely changed the game in terms of ease of implementation. Business processes span individuals, roles and enterprise systems and this meant complex integration challenges. But today – whether you utilize an ERP system like SAP or Netsuite or leverage custom software or CRMS like Salesforce – the new breed of robotic automation can integrate easily to find new opportunities for efficiency. Its a brave new world of automation with measurable and predictable return on investment that management loves. And it can apply to almost every vertical and business function you can think of.
The S.A.M.I Methodology
Informulate’s methodology for supporting process automation for businesses is called “S.A.M.I.” The acronym itself stands for “Standardize, Automate, Monitor, Iterate.” Pretty self-explanatory – but let’s dig deeper to reveals the power of how businesses can find fertile grounds for growth, process consistency, and digital transformation.
- Standardize – The first step of the methodology is to standardize the processes that move your business. When an organization reaches a certain size internal processes become more fractured and disparate. Purchase approvals in one department look different than in another, orders and payments flow in different ways to a centralized system. And despite everyone’s best efforts, there is still too much knowledge that lives in a person’s head when it should be a clear and documented process. Standardizing means bringing the chaos into focus and minimizing outliers and edge-cases. Defining what needs to be done AND how it gets done is how we Standardize. Most enterprises worth their salt typically have made significant efforts to capture best practices and standards so we always use that as a starting point.
- Automate – Once processes are standardized and well-defined, we can automate them. That means taking a listed process and creating software that performs that exact process, the same way, every time. Sounds simple but you need a partner that truly understands business processes and continuous improvement to call out your Key Performance Indicators, set the granularity of the automation and of course help with creating the automation roadmap.
- Monitor – Once you go live, the magic starts to happen and you start realizing savings immediately. By moving the processes out of someone’s daily work habit and into software, we can monitor performance at whatever level you want. We can see bottlenecks, inconsistencies, and latency in the standardized processes because we’re viewing things through actual data flowing through the system and not based on hearsay. We can observe entire systems and processes as well as individual acts and actions and then draw conclusions.
- Iterate – Coming full circle, the feedback loop created in our S.A.M.I process allows for specific and thoughtful iteration of the automation. Areas of opportunity that we uncover can be implemented into future improvements. Problem spots can be cleaned up and oriented in a different way. But because we have a foundation built on standardized processes, our development is more akin to painting the walls a new color and changing out the furniture of a home instead of trying to build a new house from scratch every time there is an issue. A continuous cycle of iteration and monitoring means that we can continue to improve the software and processes while the business continues to accelerate.
Why methodology matters
Those in the software space may inherently know that the right methodology makes all the difference when it comes to software development. But the right methodology also makes all the difference in development of the business itself. Digital transformation happens when clear strategy meets high quality execution, and no transformation of any kind is possible without process adherence. When choosing a software partner it is critical that they are not just limited to accurately mapping out not just how your business operates currently – but also are enabling you to transform to where you need to be.
Our S.A.M.I methodology provides a framework to help established businesses optimize their processes and propel themselves into the future. Taking what is working well and scaling it doesn’t have to be dangerous or feel risky; rather the right methodology can make scaling a smooth and even predictable experience. One of our clients freed up one and a half full time employees from drudgery while achieving 100% return on investment in less than 9 months – much ahead of schedule.
Ready to explore how S.A.M.I. can play a role in digitally transforming your business? Contact us to learn more about how Informulate and the S.A.M.I. methodology can take you to new heights.