Episode 131

Why Your Systems Are Blocking Your Business Objectives

September 6th, 2023


If you’re new in business, you may be finding that the systems you have selected to get started may be hindering instead of helping your day to day operations.
We dive into:
  • What functionalities are available today
  • Time saving elevations
  • Securing your data
  • Aligning with our bigs
  • Monitoring the progress
Connect with Nicole on Instagram and LinkedIn


Welcome to Take Control with Nicole. As business owners, we experience 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 are looking for smarter ways to work and create space, and time freedom in your day, then you are 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. I have a question or a thought or a curious conversation to have today.

Why are your systems blocking your business objectives? So you may have been in business for a while now, be that 10 years, be that 20, be that plus that, however long it may be, or you may have just started out and you’re already starting to feel that the choices and selections of tools that you have introduced and implemented into your, uh, hindering versus helping your day-to-day operations.

Now I have seen this time and time again with organisations that are really established in what they do. They have invested time, energy, money into the solutions that are basically off-the-shelf, customizable databases. And so what happens is the salespeople are really good at what they do. Selling. So you get on these initial calls with these fabulous people, and they tell you that they can support anything that you want to do in your business.

Yes, we can add on this a hundred percent. We’re going to do that in most experiences we’re talking future here. So they are yet to have developed this plugin, this add-in, this thing into your system. And so when you get to that question a year down the track saying, “Oh, we’re ready for Duh, duh, duh,” you end up paying for the development of a feature that was promised from day one.

I’m talking bigger businesses here, established 15, 20 years, 15 plus staff, whatever it might be. So we’ve already come to a point where we’ve got these outdated systems floating around in your business. They’re not supporting you, they’re not supporting your processes, they’re not supporting your activities, and they’re really not supporting you to achieve those bigs that you’re setting out into the world looking to do.

You’ve had that strategy, you’ve had that planning, you know, that yearly planning meeting, and you’ve broken down those actions you want to do each quarter, and all of a sudden, the timeframe is blown out because you have to factor in developmental costs, etc., for your systems and your tools. Now, I’m not saying here that we jump ship at the first sign of something that is not in place.

We always want to look at the tools we have in our businesses. What features and functionalities are available right now to us? What are we utilising? What are underutilised and what can we do to shape that experience? So we’re looking at logic. We’re looking at design. We’re looking at user experience.

What are those things in play right now? What are available right now that with a few tweaks of our technology, we can bring things in that are really easy and immediately enhance that experience? Something as well, like if we’re talking about outdated systems and we’re not talking about tech, you may be in a business that is really heavily paper-orientated.

I think back to, I’ve worked in financial services for many, many years and then transport logistics previous to this. Now in the transport logistics sector, there is a lot of paper. You’ve got, you know, Shep dockets, you’ve got delivery dockets. You’ve got signed things here and there and invoices, all the things happening.

Now, when I was working within that business, it was so heavily paper. And so with that takes time, more people flicking through lots of paper, printing. So paper and ink, obviously the cost of machines and servicing and all those sorts of things. We then have storage, so we’ve got archiving costs, uh, we’ve got the boxes to be purchased, we’ve got the time to go and find the piece of paper from 10 years ago that is now being questioned, maybe not 10 years ago, however it might be, and so we’ve got someone flicking through boxes, and of course, that piece of paper had not been put in the right particular box, in the right order, with the right label on it.

So all of a sudden an action that’s searching action that should be type the name of the file into your file structure because you’ve got your naming conventions in place already. You’ve got your document IDs, you’ve got your job numbers, whatever system that you have in place. That has been in manual.

It’s now digital. So all of a sudden our record-keeping is elevated. Our security is elevated. Our risk has been reduced. Our costs have been reduced. So from one shift, moving an outdated, antiquated system that has worked and supported you from day one. And that’s amazing. You should be celebrating that that has been your way of working for such a long time.

And that moment that you’re at now is you’ve realized there is a better way and a new way that you can evolve your systems to support you and your team going into the next 20-plus years. Inefficient systems are something that we see in businesses that you just continue the day-to-day because it’s the way you’ve always known it.

And when we are in business and you don’t have someone that comes in with fresh eyes, or maybe they don’t yet have the skills to actually understand that there is a better way. You’ll just continue like that hamster on the wheel, just keep going each and every day and your team are starting to get frustrated because things that should take them a moment are taking them two hours, right?

So when we’re looking, when we see systems like this, so if you have a think about the way that you’re operating right now, regardless of how long you’ve been in business for, there will be things that you have been doing from day one that you’re like, “Oh, it’s working. I don’t need to shift that because it’s working.

It’s doing its job.” Have a think about those moments. We get a little bit frustrated. Why is this taking me so long? Imagine if you invested that time to design those systems to really support that outcome and that achievement that you’re looking to work towards. So if we tie this back in with our big focuses for the quarter for the year, if for instance, cost-saving is one of those objectives.

It might be 12 months down the line, you want to reduce the cost by X percent. This is where we’re starting, those micro-systems that you’re working in each and every day that only take 10 minutes, that only take half an hour. Those compounded costs, time, energy, resources, have a look at that. Imagine if you could automate that.

Imagine if we could streamline that system. So instead of having a pile of paper, this like this, like this hike, I didn’t work. During the video, you can see my hands, this high that we now have to employ someone to come in and scan, scan, scan,

and file scan. Imagine if that was digital, everything instigated in a digital system.

We bring it across via digital. It’s automatically going into our client files digitally. We’re sharing it. Digitally online, we’ve got our security measures in place. So you have already spoken to your IT security. If not, if you don’t have anyone, let me know. I’ve got a few fabulous humans in my space that I can highly recommend for you to talk to having those security things in place.

I’m going to divert. This is important. Please hold your call is important to me. IT security and your structures and your settings. If you have, again, this does not matter what size of business you are in, if you have done a DIY setup for your business. And you’ve gone and signed up to Outlook, Office 365 or Google Workspace, and you have not considered the security permissions around your IT structures.

So your document file structures, your emails, your online data. So if you’re using a system like ClickUp or Asana or anything that’s in the cloud, take a moment and invest some time to have a conversation with somebody who can do a review for you and make sure that you’re mitigating your risk.

So it doesn’t matter if you’re a solo human. And if you’re working with client data, it’s integral and it’s part of our responsibility to ensure that our systems are securely structured and set up so that you’re confidently moving through. Now, I have worked in bigger organizations where this has not fully been integrated either.

So you’re not alone. But you’re now aware, so you’ve got this information. What are you going to do with it? Something else to talk about that. I was at an event on Tuesday and an amazing human did a presentation. He’s an IT connection specialist. And sorry, he works and has this technology that is basically wireless internet via things on your roof.

One thing that he said, and something that I always talk about as well is a backup internet connection. So if you are an organization that has a physical space that you are responsible for, and you have an internet connection, be that NBN, whatever it might be, you do yourself a favor and invest in a backup rollover solution.

So you can talk to your IT provider, either it a 4G rollover, a little bit of money to invest to set it up. A hell of a lot of saving of time and money when that, you know, digger at the front goes through that NBN connection and you have your office completely wiped out, not your office, but your internet connection.

Anyway. I’m off my high horse for now. It’s just a really important thing to be thinking about and all connected back into our operational ways of working. We want consistency. We want ease. We want simplification. All of these things tie into our systems and how we’re working day in and day out. So when we actually invest in the ways we are working, we’re actually going to save time, money.

The return on investment will be threefold. Don’t have exact stats, but let’s say threefold because we’re making efficiencies at the start at the front. We are looking at those designs, those workflows, those who is involved, the people, the tech, all the things, making those educated decisions from a holistic point of view versus, “Ah, there’s a problem, there’s a solution.”

How does this problem fit into the wider ecosystem? How does this solution support our overall structures and support and, you know, how does it align with our ways of working? How does it align with where we are moving forward with our bigs? Now, when we have systems that are not aligned with our bigs, as we’ve been discussing in the previous episodes, you’re going to feel things that are clunky, things are going to be blocking for you, your team’s going to start to feel a little bit icky and frustrated in the way that they’re working.

Ultimately to get to those bigs that seem like it should be so easy will become a challenge. So take that moment to think about as you’re checking in with your status progress for your bigs, how is it feeling operating day to day in your business? Are there things that keep propping up that your team is saying to you?

Are there things that you are noticing in the ways that you’re operating each and every day that a five-minute once-a-day over, well, I’m not going to say 365 days, but we’re not working that much, but you know what I mean over the year, over the 12 months timing that together versus investing that energy to either engage someone to support you, to redesign the ways that you work or tweak the ways that you work, make them streamlined or make that change yourself.

If you’ve got that skill set in place. Get those things. You will see such an impact in the way that you are operating each and every day. So some additional things to consider, you know, when we have realized that our systems are blocking our objectives and our ways forward, you know, take a look at those critical operating systems.

Are they outdated? You know, are they inefficient? Are they actually supporting you to move on forward? Having those questions out there, when you have identified what the root cause of the problem is, what systems are actually blocking that progress once you’ve identified what systems? Let’s make those changes to take it right back to the start, have a reconnection in with what your workflow is, what are your processes, who are the people involved, what is the tech involved and make those elevations, those changes, those shifts into the ways of working because all of a sudden.

Then things will start to feel easier and you’ll be able to see those achievements as you’re going through those micro-actions with small bigs to reach those bigs based on what that structure and timeline is. And finally, with everything we do in business, we want to be able to monitor that progress.

We want to be able to see, okay, so we’ve made that shift here in this system in a month’s time. How is that going? How are our team feeling? How are the numbers looking? Whatever metrics that you’ve put in place to monitor progress, check on those. Are there any further adjustments that need to be made to be able to continually support you to keep on moving and evolving and iterating as your business learns new things and you become aware of something new?

We know that our business operations, our businesses, the way that they’re designed and structured are not set in stone. It’s not concrete, right? However, what we can do is have this beautiful foundational design in place that’s going to support you to iterate. To continually move on through and forward towards those bigs as your business continues to grow and be successful, you’re bringing on team or not, depending on what your structure might be, but you know, whatever decisions you make as a business owner, a business leader, a team leader, that you’ve invested that energy and space and time to structure those foundations to support you for ongoing success for the duration of your business.

Well, thank you so much for joining me here today. I hope you have the most fabulous rest of your week, creating clever systems for your business by now.


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.