Dialling a winning formula

And the winner is…..

Yes the awards season has arrived and the media is full of tearful winners and their acceptance speeches. At the time of writing the Baftas and the Grammys are out of the way and the countdown is on for the Oscar ceremony.

Who will be this year’s winners and losers? We won’t know until the night itself although La La Land leads the pack with fourteen nominations. Ironically one of the inspirations for La La Land, the film Singing in the Rain only received two Oscar nominations and won neither of them. Now recognised by the American film Institute as the greatest film of all time, Singing in the Rain was beaten to the top prize by The Greatest Show on Earth; a double irony as that film is now listed as one of the worst films to have won an Oscar.

What that perfectly illustrates is the fact that decisions made in the moment may not necessarily stand the test of time. This doesn’t just apply to award nominations; just look back at some of the fashions or favourite foods that once were enjoyed but probably wouldn’t now make it into the mainstream of life. In effect, however much we would wish otherwise, our choices are influenced by the prevailing climate and what was once seen as a good idea may not necessarily meet changed and changing circumstances.

It’s a lesson which carries over into the business world. The products we offer, our systems and processes cannot and should not be set in stone. Consumer tastes change, technology moves on and businesses grow. In the process, what was right for the time may no longer be fit for purpose. Yet far too many businesses cling on to outmoded systems, reluctant to change, particularly if the initial capital costs were high.

But with everything; whether it be product, process or equipment, sooner or later the time comes to acknowledge that is simply not cost-effective to carry on. Just as the old manually operated telephone exchanges have given way to automated dialling, so too can the updating of any business process lead to ongoing cost savings alongside enhanced service offerings.

So what are the top tips for businesses which are looking to update their systems? First and foremost, do what is right for the business rather than what is fashionable at the moment. Yes there are times when the two may well coincide, but choosing something just because everyone else has one will not help you to deliver differentiated products and great service in the future. For example, internet telephony (or VoIP) can be a fantastic resource but if your local broadband speed and bandwidth are poor at best then all you are likely to do is store up frustration as calls fail to connect or fall over regularly.

Secondly, wherever possible choose flexibly. Your plans may have you taking on more staff or expanding internationally in a couple of years time so why tie yourself down to an inflexible system now. It may on first glance seem that the only two options you have are to either take something on in the short term in the full knowledge that you will replace it completely at a later stage, or commit to over ordering now in the hope that you will grow into your new system in the future.

However, there is a third way. By choosing a system which can easily flex and change as your needs alter you can save money now and ensure that your needs are met down the line. For example, in the early days with few employees your telephony system may only need to be augmented by a simple answerphone and manual call transfer system. As the business grows other features such as hunt groups, automated call transfer models allied to caller recognition, or an external transfer to a virtual assistant can be added as required.

By taking time at the outset to identify your needs and choosing flexibly, it is possible to have a system which not only meets the needs of the moment but remains fit for purpose as the business grows.  Now that’s a winning formula for any organisation.

Written by Alison