Episode 128

Assessing Systems Alignment

August 16th, 2023


Today we’re shifting the focus ever so slightly to look towards, how to know if your business systems and bigs are aligned.
We dive into:
  • Defining your business bigs
  • Assessing the systems that support the business
  • The gaps between stages
  • Managing the projects

Connect with Nicole on Instagram  and LinkedIn

Welcome to Take Control with Nicole. As business owners, we experienced firsthand the fine line between our personal and business lives. During our conversations, we will look at simple hints and tips to create time, reduce overwhelm, and help you navigate through your journey to where you want to be. If you’re looking for smarter ways to work and create space and time freedom in your day, then you’re in the right place. Alright, let’s go.

Hello, I’m Nicole Smith, COO, operations specialist and systems designer at The Artisans Business Solutions, and welcome to Take Control with Nicole. Today, we are going to continue on that fabulous conversation all around aligning your systems with your business goals or bigs as you may like to call them. Today, though, we are going to shift that focus ever so slightly and look towards that question: How do I know if my systems and my bigs are aligned? It’s a fabulous question to be curious about and one that we really have the opportunity to open those lenses a little bit wider, and ask and really dive into those questions. So where do we start? Let’s dive in.

We’d love that. The first step is to be crystal clear on what your business pigs actually are. Really define them. What do you want to achieve with your business? We could be growing brand awareness, driving more sales, or what about increasing our client retention rates, streamlining our client experience, or supporting our internal team collaboration and connection? Whatever it might be, that aligns with the direction that your business is taking. We know that we have our focus points in play, we have an idea of the timeframes that we want to achieve, set actions, and now we can really be clear on, okay, if we’re looking to grow our brand awareness, what is it from a solution point of view, from a practical application, an execution point of view, to bring this strategy to life? What is it that we need from a systems basis to support me, my team, and anybody else who is going to be part of that experience, to really move through and reach that big and celebrate that success when you arrive at that milestone moment?

Once you’re really clear on what we’re looking to achieve, that’s when we’re actually going to go back into our business. It’s assessing time, what’s currently in place? What systems do we have activated? How are they working? Are they actually already aligned? Or are you feeling that jarring feeling of this is not going to be easy to move on through? How do they really support the processes and our activities and what you need, from an execution point of view, to move you closer and closer and closer to that objective that you’ve agreed in your clarity of your business big planning?

When we’re looking at our ways of working, there are multiple viewpoints that we can come at or kind of look at it through. So from a business leader, we want to ensure that the way we’ve structured our business is going to support our team to be successful. We want to also be aware that when we are looking at the ways of working, that we’re going to really easily dance on through to meet those contractual obligations we have for our client delivery projects. As a business leader, we want to also be able to have that bird’s eye view on what is happening in our business, support our team from a workforce planning point of view, be able to easily move in and out of the different systems that are supporting us as a business, as an organization to be able to again, take those steps forward.

If you focus in on one of your goals, one of your bigs, come on into your business with that view in mind. Support and connection. What do we currently have in our business that really truly supports our team to connect? Do we have a WhatsApp chat that sometimes gets utilized, but there’s no real structure? We don’t have a communication strategy in place. Is it clear where we actually put our client project updates? How are we communicating? Is it all via email and one day we have to go searching and find that particular comment on that particular theme? Or have you designed a beautiful structured approach that’s got a really beautiful reference ID system in place, depending on what your level of detail you’re needing, of course, and it’s really easy to go, okay, there was a meeting in May, around this time, I know these people were here, I can easily go and search the system and find that particular file note that was of importance.

All of these things come into play when we’re really looking at aligning the way that our ways of working are supporting us. We have an opportunity to think broader than what’s in front of us. Whenever we are looking at our systems and aligning them with our strategies, we want to have a look at what we’re doing first, how we want to work. And then that’s when our technology comes in to support us. There is this theme, especially in this small business world, where the bright shiny object—you’ve probably had it said, you’ve said it yourself, someone—you may have 1000 different tech systems on a spreadsheet, and you’re not sure which to go with because all of them have a chat function, and only one of them has XYZ, whatever it might be.

When you invest that energy in that space to plan and design, how you want to work, the decision for the technology will become a lot easier and a lot cleaner, because already you’ve got those must-have features, those functionalities, those ones that are a priority to be in the one system. And you also have an idea of the connectivity that you can create from your tech ecosystem, using primary system A connecting with secondary system B, or they’ve got their own individual purposes. Let’s talk ClickUp and Zero, for instance, right? We’re not going to invoice from ClickUp. But we are definitely going to invoice from Zero because that is a financial management system. That is where all the finance things live. ClickUp is for project management, task management. So being really clear, what is that overall objective? What are we actually moving towards?

Hey, they’re just interrupting this episode to share with you a guide that you aren’t going to want to explore. Are you a ClickUp user at the moment? Or have you been sitting on the fence and hearing me talk about it each and every week and just wondering, what is the next step to tech? Well, I’ve created a guide that’s going to support you on your journey to really design your ClickUp spaces, be able to create those and then connect them into the way that your business operates each and every day. My community has told me that this guide has been a game changer in the way that they really look at their ClickUp workspaces and operate each and every day. And you can access it as well. So pop on over to my website, theartisans.com.au/freebies, and access the action taker’s guide to ClickUp. How fabulous that you know you’re ready to evolve your ClickUp journey, you’re ready to move from where you are right now to where you have always known you want to be. Reach out, let me know. I’d love to hear all about your journey in ClickUp. So I look forward to hearing from you soon.

So once we have gotten clear, we’ve had a look at that internal stock tag. It’s really about

that activity of identifying what’s missing. So what currently is in our ecosystem that’s working really well, but it actually doesn’t align with supporting me to go to that next phase? There’s a gap. What do we then do to actually move on through to make those changes, to select that new piece of tech or that new process in place that’s really going to support you and your team to move on through to reach those bigs?

Some things to think about as well as part of this change management process. Because any of these things, whenever we’re evolving our ways of working, we are changing not only for yourself but for your team. And so a really important part of that is that stakeholder management in the process of change, being able to ensure that everybody’s on the same page, that the changes are supported by the people that are actually primarily acting in that capacity, whatever that might be. We also have a really a change leader allocated within the business that can help you really guide and shape that experience from one of this is what we’re doing, so deal with it, to this is why we’re doing this. We have looked at our business strategies and as an organization we are heading towards x, y, z data in timeframe x, y, z. To do this, we’ve identified data data and to evolve the way that we’re working to support you as our team so we continue to support our fabulous clients. These are the areas of enhancements that we’ve identified that we’ll be looking to evolve and enhance in the operations of our business. And finally, this is your role in this change process, we value your input, and we’re really excited to have you as part of this journey to move on through.

Something else to consider is to be really clear with your expectations and your timeframes. So say if you’ve got a goal that you’re wanting to achieve by the end of Q1, so right now at the time of recording, it’s the first of August. So we have two months until the end of Q1 2024. So let’s be realistic about what we are looking to achieve. And if we do have expedited timeframes, what additional resources do we need that may be external from your current team capacity? Because why by removing your primary team from their core activities, that’ll have a reduction in service and a focus over here. Now, that may be a strategic business decision that you would like to do. However, if there is something that you’re really looking to get that surge on and make those executed advancements in your system, there are so many fabulous support people to come on in for a period of time and help you to really move through that change.

Finally, metrics, metrics, metrics. Measure, keep a tab on your project. This is where project management comes into play. What is the status? How are we going to get to that big? What are those micro actions we’re doing? Are they on time? Are they tracking? Okay, what resources do we need? Are there any issues that we’re coming against, that’s blocking us from going forward? I always think back to my husband, he is a project manager in construction. And we have conversations frequently about some of the projects that he works on over in his space and things like ah, the supplier was unable to deliver the wood for the x, y, zed or such and such has happened. So what are we doing when those obstacles or those blockers come in play? What are those things that we can do in that scenario, apply those adjustments as they’re needed, so that we continually do those activities, those micro actions that we can do, versus Oh, halting. One thing’s gone off the radar, we can’t continue.

It’s really about aligning where we are right now. And by having those regular check-ins, keeping a real close eye on that status of a project as it goes through. It’ll give you those warning signs in advance to say, okay, we’re going off track. Why is that? What additional support do I need, if any? Do my team need to upskill? Like, what is it exactly that we need to continually take those steps towards those bigs? Remember, we’ve set those clear expectations, those goals, what we’re looking to achieve in timeframe x, we know now the systems that are in our business right now, that may or may not be supporting you as an organization, as a business leader, your team to reach those bigs that you’ve aligned. You also are now aware of these shifts and the changes, those evolutions that we’re going to make in our business to make it a thing, add those little shifts, those things of action. That may seem like microsteps, it could literally be as simple as adding a template as part of an email series, or it could be a new design in your ClickUps to make sure that all those project things are aligned out. You’ve got those timeframes clearly tracked.

So when we’re measuring that progress, as a business leader, you can come on in and have a look and see clearly at a single glance, what’s going on, what is needed, and are we on track to meet those timeframes that we’ve already clearly outlined? Oh, it’s so fabulous when all the things come into play. The business bigs, the systems, the humans, the tech, you as a business leader can really enjoy the experience of that transformation, really kicking those beads as you were. I was gonna say kicking those goals but kicking those bigs as we’re moving on through the micro actions to the little bigs to those big celebration or moments, knowing that you’ve got that foundational support designed and in place so that you can easily dance on through from where you are to where you’re going. Alright. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you have the most fabulous rest of your week creating clever systems for your business. By now.

Well, there we go. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been such a pleasure having you on board. Have we connected on social jazz? If not, please come on over. Say hi, I’m on all the platforms at The Artisan Solutions. So I’d really look forward to seeing you over there. And if you enjoyed today’s episode, don’t forget to tag me and I’d love it if you could leave a review. And of course, share this with others so others can come and join us next time. Alright then everyone have a fabulous rest of the week. And until next time, see you then.


Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.