Not long ago, we talked about reviewing the recent performance of your business and making adjustments based on what you find.
We ended that conversation like this…
Beyond the bumps, there’s something missing here. Reacting after the fact. Assessment and adjustment after the bleeding starts. Evaluating what’s going on because the calendar says so.
Does that make sense in an ultra-competitive world? I think there has to be a better way.
One reason for this is because of human nature. If you feel that you don’t have to stop and take the time to assess / measure what’s going on as often as I say or as often as the calendar says, you’re going to do it less often than you should.
You can expect that to hurt.
By the dashboard light
This isn’t about killing pain or temporarily avoiding that hurt. I’d prefer to *prevent* the pain if possible. Wouldn’t you?
To set the context for one approach to preventing the pain, think about your car.
You don’t pull off of the highway to check your car’s speed, water and oil temperature. Your car’s dashboard provides information about its current condition while you’re moving, eliminating the need to pull over, stop, get out, change clothes, look under the hood and get your hands dirty.
If your car requires immediate attention, something on your dashboard lights up so that you can’t help but notice it and (hopefully) attend to it.
Seems to me that you would benefit if your business could do that. Rather than waiting for you to sit down, crunch numbers and summarize things so you can make a decision – the equivalent of pulling off the highway and looking under the hood – why not setup your business to self-report just like your car?
Trends and Emergencies
In business situations requiring immediate attention, you want to know right then – much like the dashboard “idiot light” but smarter.
Rather than waiting to arrive at those “immediate attention” situations, it would be even better if your business notified you when conditions existed that could lead to a situation like that, giving you the time to take action or make a decision before things get ugly.
Sure, sometimes “immediate attention” situations happen instantly with no warning, but that really isn’t typical.
More often than not, there are leading indicators to the impending crisis. As your business operates, it creates feedback information about itself, about events that occur (such as customer interactions, so-many-days-since-they-paid) and so on. Yes, this is obvious. Each of those pieces of information trends in some direction, even if that direction is “same as last month”.
If they start trending toward that “Check engine” light, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest you’d want to know that well before the light comes on.
Keeping track of 100 of these by hand is almost impossible, or at least way more work than most people want to do or see ROI in. As a result, we might keep track of a small handful by hand. If we could monitor them in an automated fashion, we could monitor quite a few handfuls without extra effort. That would allow us to spend more time improving our business (much less doing business) and let our automated monitors tell us what we might otherwise not notice.
For example, when a trend direction starts to change over a predetermined period of time (or amount, or in too many areas at once), you want to know about it sooner rather than later. In your car, you want to find out about your coolant getting too warm *before* it overheats and strands you in the middle of nowhere at the worst possible time.
While an automated dashboard is great for keeping you out from under the hood on a daily basis, it’s still sometimes necessary to get your hands dirty. Don’t let your automated systems tempt you into avoiding this effort.
These systems allow you to keep substantially better track of more things on a day to day basis without spending all day “checking, checking, checking.” They educate you about problems far earlier than normal and let you focus on the real work – the stuff that creates revenue and profit.
Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site, contact him on Twitter, or email him at email@example.com.
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