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Has Your Company Growth Stalled?

It is a common tale. In the past, a business performs well. But time passes, and that growth trend stalls. Trust us when we tell you, there is usually a cause. There are bottlenecks in your business process that are slowing you down!

Data Management + Better Decision Making

Time is wasted when the same data is entered multiple times…

More time is wasted when more than two people have to handle the same piece of paper…

Finally, if you do not have easy + quick access to this data when you need to make important organizational decisions, you are at a disadvantage…

If any of these bottlenecks sound familiar, you need to improve your intern business process…

SIVAD…Making Elections More Accurate

Sivad’s Ron Davis talks about how we can improve efficiency and process in county government:

Sivad knows that county governments are asked to provide more and better services…with fewer staff and smaller budgets. County election offices are just one area where we can be of service…

How To Start Finding Your Organization’s Bottlenecks

Ron Davis riffs on how to begin the arduous process of finding the bottlenecks that are slowing down your organization:

The keys to identifying the bottlenecks?

1. Start small.

2. Start with identifying just one broken process, not the whole organization at once.

3. Talk to your people. Don’t just assume.

4. Study and understand every detail of your day-to-day administration. Most executives don’t know these details.

5. When your people say “this is the way we’ve always done it” – treat this as code to better understand if this process is broken.

Once you start, it becomes easier to identify other broken down processes. And finally, create a culture where people are rewarded for suggesting ways to make business processes more efficient.

This will go a long way to making your organization better, faster, more efficient, and more profitable!

Finding a Trusted Advisor

I received a number of emails in regards to my last blog where I discussed finding a trusted advisor. All the comments were very similar, “how do I find this trusted advisor”. In this blog post I will try to give you a few tips on how to find your advisor.

When you look for someone to help navigate the technology landscape, it is important to search for a person who has the following traits:

  • Understands technology, but also understands the value it brings business.
  • Strives to understand your business and the problems driving you to look for technology solutions before they ever discuss any products.
  • Someone who understands your industry, what drives it forward and what hinders it from going forward.
  • Someone who has knowledge of the wide range of solutions available in the marketplace.
  • Someone who will take the time to educate you.
  • Someone who is more interested in a long term partnership than making a sale and running off to the next one, never to be heard again. In most cases with technology, there are several steps before your vision is realized. Sometimes it means going down one path and then changing directions. This is when it is critical to have a trusted advisor.

Now that you know what to look for, where do you find your advisor?

  • The best place to find anything in my opinion is through the people we already know and trust. They can discuss past experiences and give you the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • After exhausting your network, the best place to find a potential trusted advisor is in a scenario where they are not trying to directly sell you something. You want to observe them using the traits I have listed above, but in a setting that is not specifically aimed at you. This could be an industry event where they are speaking, it could be through an article, paper, etc that they wrote, it could be though social media posts or any other platform where they are discussing your industry problems and how to solve them. By attending your industry events or reading industry materials, you should be able to dig up potential candidates that would be worth talking to.

If you are an executive, your concentration is on the bottom line. Increasing revenue and profits year after year is why you are there. I believe without a doubt that technology should be a part of your strategy. The issue is that there are countless products and solutions in the marketplace and salespeople who will tell you anything you want to hear to make the sale. Your trusted advisor will help guide you through available solutions and be there long after the initial sale. This person can be already on your IT or business staff or maybe it is an outside vendor or consultant. Take the time to find the right person and your revenue, profits, and employees will thank you afterwards.

Photo from Shivf1 on Flickr

1600 CIO’s can’t be wrong

I recently read a press release from the IT research analyst company Gartner. They discussed a study of 1600 CIO’s who were asked about 2010 IT budgets, technology priorities and business priorities. While the response on budgets was flat at best, I thought their business priorities echoed what I have been seeing in the marketplace. The top three business priorities were as follows:

1. Business Process Improvement
2. Reducing Enterprise Costs
3. Increasing the use of Information and Analytics

This validates what my customers are telling me. Executives are tired of hearing their employees say “Well this is how we have always done it”. Today’s technology is too flexible, affordable, and easy to use. There is no reason why any company should not take a serious look at how technology can reduce manual processes and duplications of effort and increase employee productivity.

If you haven’t looked at technology because you don’t know where to start, I understand. There is a vast amount of technology products and vendors available to the marketplace. Each one spins their technology to be the best. While the last thing you want is to meet with salespeople every day who will bring in nice brochures of their products, you do want to find someone who understands the technology landscape. This person, which I call the “trusted advisor”, will discuss your problems and educate you on types of technology to solve them before they ever drill into a specific product.

Technology has become a driving force for competing and surviving in any industry. If you haven’t look how it can change your day-to-day business, its time that you do. So go find your trusted advisor to lead you down the greater productivity path. Happy hunting!

I have linked to the Gartner press release for anyone interested in reading it.

Gartner EXP Worldwide Survey of Nearly 1,600 CIOs Shows IT Budgets in 2010 to be at 2005 Levels

Photo from Minasodaboy on Flickr

Looking at Technology in a New Way

It has been a busy few weeks for Sivad. We are in the middle of new customer implementations with a few more that need to be scheduled. It is a good sign to see companies who realize that even in a down economy spending money on new technology solutions is a good investment.

It’s no different for us at Sivad. We strive to keep our costs down and look to implement the right technology solutions to achieve our goals. One area that we have improved is the digital storage and access of documents. While this might be a basic function, we have found a unique way to access any document that will give us the needed knowledge to make fast, intelligent decisions.

While having archival of old documents is important, at Sivad our biggest concern is more our day-to-day business and market intelligence. We want to know what is going on with our market, our customers, our prospects, our competitors, and technology in general. In the past if we found an interesting article on the internet it would get printed out, stuck in a folder with good intentions of reading it, but in reality it was likely never to be seen again. That has all changed now. We took a product from one of our vendors, aXs Info, and used it in a way that best benefited us. Along with a scanning interface, we have the ability on the fly to print or drag documents directly into their system. This can be web pages or internet articles, emails, Microsoft Office documents, videos or just about any other document. There is a very easy indexing process and all the documents are run through a process that saves all the text in order to search on it later (I call this our internal Google search). This process of quickly saving documents is great, but best part is being able to find what we’re looking for, with a few keystrokes.

We don’t use their supplied searching interface, instead we use an option they offer called “the integrator”. This makes any application that we’re using, the searching interface. For example, I could be reading an email and see something that I need to react to, but before I do I want to know if I have any more information on the subject. To find out, I will highlight a word in the email and select a pre-determined “hotkey”. The aXs Info system will search all saved documents and any that matches that highlighted word will appear in a search results box. I select the document I am interested in seeing and it opens right there without leaving my email. I can perform this same search in web pages, in Word documents, accounting applications and just about any other application you can think of.

This has been a somewhat non-traditional way to use this application, but we have realized for our needs this way offers the most benefits. That’s a good point to keep in mind when using a new technology, it might be marketed for one use, but once it is understood it can be used for something else. I have seen many an executive who has the vision to reconfigure it, to ensure the most value for their company. I would encourage you to try to do the same with your present installed technology solutions.

Innovation, Leadership, and Thriving in Today’s Business World

“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service”

The statement above was written back in 1985 by Peter Drucker in his book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”. Today, this statement has more meaning than ever before. Drucker understood that the means to growing a business comes from productivity and innovation. We have become much more productive in our work life primarily due to our competing environments and the great technology revolution. Small business entrepreneurs understand this best and have become the growth cycle of the workforce. Today, small business employs half of the 144 million private sector workers and creates 60 to 80 percent of new private sector jobs. Here is where the US economic future lies. However, do small businesses really understand and optimally use technology and have true innovation?

Most believe technology is hardware or software. These are tools for technology. The real answer is innovation lies in the process. Small businesses now have the ability to use technology tools that just a few years ago were the exclusive property of large enterprises. Defining and improving the process with technological tools allows the costs of starting and operating a small business to decrease, while the opportunity for innovations increases. The power and ability to succeed has never been better for the small business community. As very successful and intelligent people leave corporate America, we are at the start of a great age of innovation for small business entrepreneurs.

For small business leaders to improve the process of doing business with technology, leadership is critical. Change is the scariest factor for many small business leaders. We all have lived through tough changes from new IT systems, to changing service providers. However, successful small business leaders understand the importance of efficient operations with updated technology systems. Highly innovative companies and leaders understand risk taking and the willingness to experiment and understand new ideas and processes. Many small business leaders encourage and reward innovative behavior because these behaviors have a direct contribution to the bottom line. Leadership is not always easy or glamorous. True leaders understand processes that lead to future profits or savings, need to be identified and then have the courage to act. They also know, by keeping an eye on these changes and embracing better process control, innovation as well as profits will grow beyond their competitors.

Innovation can occur in all aspects of business. Successful small businesses innovate in how they interact with customers, produce products, manage employees and deal with day-to-day issues. By looking at processes in one or many of these areas, small businesses can improve their bottom line by becoming more efficient, therefore saving time and money. In the end, small businesses can increase profitability while also increasing customer value, unique to many companies in today’s world.

We at Sivad believe in improving small business processes through the use of technology. Not only do we believe in this ideal, but it is our passion. We pride ourselves on looking at your processes and helping you build a more efficiently run business that has the ability to innovate quicker. Ultimately, your small business can become more profitable and a stronger competitor in more challenging world.

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Getting Plan Buy-in
For many, getting buy in from executive management to fund a project is difficult, terrifying, discouraging, etc. In today’s economy, and regardless of your job position, most people approach asking for money with the attitude of “I am not going to get it” from the start. I have spoken to many people about implementing a […]  (read more)

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