I know, I know. It’s hard to start thinking about the New Year when we’re shipping orders, wrapping up projects, juggling the hectic holidays and planning for a massive trade show just a few weeks away! As a fellow small business, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to find time to think about business development. Some days we’re so busy juggling our current client demands, big picture goals take a back seat to a ringing phone or email deluge. Still, now is still the perfect time to reflect on how to grow your business.
Whether you believe in resolutions or not, making a list of action items and/or priorities certainly helps focus our attention on future success. We consider it a road map to success and it certainly worked for us last year. 2016 has been a great year of growth and we want to do it again!
This is what we’ll be focusing on in 2017:
New ERP Implementation, Finally!
When an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is done right, it operates like a finely-tuned orchestra — nothing in discord, just beautiful, transformative music. Getting there, however, takes a lot of broken chords. Or so we’ve learned.
We have been working on a new ERP system for more than a year with lots of fits and starts. It’s expensive, time-consuming and significantly changing our existing business processes. Without a doubt, it affects every person in every department, and that is very scary. However, by taking the time to select the right ERP package and implement it slowly, we know we can maximize its success. It will make ECHOtape run more smoothly, cut costs, deliver superior customer service and give our decision makers better insight into what is going on in the business.
We can’t wait to tell you more about it as it rolls out!
Getting Better at Innovation
It’s no secret: innovation is difficult for traditional manufacturing businesses like ours. By and large, we are better executors than innovators. Historically, our success has come by optimizing our existing business rather than game-changing creativity. However, that’s going to change.
In 2017, we are going to think a lot more about our customer pain points and what innovations we can create to help solve their problems. Certainly, we have always made sure to have the Voice of the Customer in our product development decisions, but as we continue to grow and as markets get even more competitive, we need to be better. To do that, we need the entire company engaged in the process, which involves better communication.
Skillful communication goes far beyond sending regular emails, meetings and shared Power Point presentations, but knowing that and doing it are two different things. With employees, consultants, clients and customers all over the world, it’s a huge challenge. One that we’re intent on improving.
Thankfully, we have already started. Recently, we began shifting away from organizational “silo” thinking to collaborative, cross-department planning.
By working better as a team, we are hoping to encourage improved communications and diminish bottlenecked decision making. Both challenging and incredibly rewarding, it’s been exciting to see the company improve in ways that will allow for more growth. We are becoming much clearer about our priorities, collectively and individually; and it’s also making us think about the processes we use to engage everyone and get them contributing to the idea pipeline that eventually helps us be more innovative!
From all of us at ECHOtape, Happy New Year!