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Simplicity in the 2009! January 19, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Efficiency Process.
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A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the book “Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises“.  It is a fantastic software architecture book written by Roger Sessions.  His whole premise is how to better serve clients through use of simpler solutions for complex problems.

The idea of simplifying is something that I definitely think that all businesses should be considering going in this year.  By really thinking through what you are doing and focusing on what’s important in your business you can cut costs, make customers happier, and probably generate more business.  You might even make your life less complicated.

I have a friend, Lisa at Call That Girl! who recently decided to stop doing LinkedIn training seminars.  Why? Not because they aren’t popular.  She decided to do it because she needed to focus on her core business and simplify.  That is what she has found is required for her to excel in 2009.

I am trying to finalize the business plan for my company (Borea Systems, Inc.) and one of things that I am trying to keep in mind is the simple acronym KISS.  I want to focus my business on what it is that I do.  It needs to stay focused and simple in order to not have a bunch of competing priorities.

Is 2009 the year for simple?  Let me know if it is part of your plan to make things more simple this year.

You Don’t Know! January 16, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Tools.
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We track data for everything in today’s world.  We have thousands of fields worth of data on our clients, customers, employees, acquiantences… everyone.   How are you using that data?  No… I mean USING that data.  Is there a report that is generated once a day that no one looks at?  Do you have a screen that you can look at if you are interested?

Shouldn’t you be using that data to make more sales, improve expenses, or whatever?  If you aren’t using the data to make things better, why are you storing it?

Found a great blog post about this kind of thing that you will enjoy called The 1 Secret Small Businesses Must Know In Order To Survive And Prosper.  In that article the author makes the statement:

You don’t know what you don’t know.  Failing to realize this fact and make adjustments is a very good way to ensure you make mistakes.

That is absolutely true.  You have all of the data you need available to you but are you using it?  You definitely should be.  Imagine the impact of being able to analyze the information that you have available to you.  Examples:

  1. Which vendor is providing us the best cost/benefit?
  2. Which salesperson is most successful?  Why?
  3. Which customer would be most apt to take on that new add-on for added revenue?
  4. Which customer has provided us with the best referrals?

Those are just a few of the potential questions.  What other questions can you come up with?  Do you have the data to find out?  Why aren’t you?

Great Business Systems Book January 6, 2009

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Tools.
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As I am sure that you can tell by reading my previous posts I am huge believer in business systems.   Systems will allow your business to be more efficient and profitable.  They also allow your business to not have to depend on you.  I am re-reading a book right now that is focused on following this mindset for your business.  It actually takes it a step further than just having systems within your business, it talks about making your business a system.  The book is called The E-Myth Revisited.

I think that this book is a fantastic book for anyone who is building a business and trying to understand the concepts of systems and why and how to build them.

I hope that you find this book as interesting as I have.  I will try to post more about it once I have finished it.

Outsourcing of resources December 16, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Business, Business Focus, Business Solutions, Efficiency Process, Green Business, Resourcing.
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Many people really have problems with the outsourcing of resources.  That is especially prevalent in the IT arena.  Many people feel that they can hire some IT resources and get a project done faster and cheaper.  Yet, in many places we don’t even consider that as an option.

First, I have to give a clarification that many people make a mistake about. Outsourcing and offshoring are NOT the same thing.  I am discussing outsourcing in this article Here is my general definition of the two terms:

Outsourcing – Hiring a external specialist to complete a task

Offshoring – Outsourcing that occurs overseas

Ran across an article that discusses this concept on ZDNet called “Why are you managing your own power plant?“.  In this article Mr. Frome discusses how many businesses automatically think about managing their own IT resources and in many cases it might have been a better decision to outsource the work.  He asks five questions that I think are very important to consider:

1. Does it give me a competitive advantage?
2. Are there companies out there who have already created what I need?
3. Are there vendors who have more expertise in this area and stronger alliances with retail partners than me?
4. Does it take up much of my internal resources?
5. Could I benefit from the economies of scale of a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model?

The questions are key to consider.  Unless businesses have a huge IT shop with a bunch of resources who are just waiting for the next initiative it will be extremely hard to justify in house development of many of the systems.

One of the main reasons is question #3.  In most cases, there are businesses out there who have more expertise in creating solutions than most business’s IT shops will have.  When that is all that development shops do they have a significant skillset in that realm.  In addition, many times they will have utilized that skillset to create a team that can handle most requests that they receive with ease.  This is very difficult for other businesses to acheive.

Another huge point that the article discusses is question #5.  It is pretty hard to answer no to that question unless you are the only customer in the world who uses your specific software.  Because the vendor can share the cost of the system over many clients the cost will be lower than if you build it yourself or even have it developed specifically for you.  This also means that you benefit from the ideas that other customers come up with.  As features are requested and added by all businesses you benefit.

As Mr. Frome points out in his article it is technically feasible for each of us to generate our own power but we don’t because of the expense and hassle.  Many companies do the same thing with legal, marketing, accounting, printing, and many other resources.  IT is something that needs to be considered in a similar fashion to those specialties because in many cases IT outsourcing makes a lot of sense.