If your systems aren’t lean, efficient and precise, you’re wasting time and money while putting your business at unnecessary risk. If you’re going to build out new systems, you need to do it right. Avoid these nine mistakes when building new systems to transform how work gets done in your business.
1. Ignoring human nature
Most people don’t like change. Learning new systems interrupts the smooth flow of their day-to-day activities, even if those processes are wildly inefficient and time-consuming.
If you want to make sure your system migration is going to stick, you need to set people up for success. Here’s how:
Empathize with your team: No matter how much better a system is, change is rough. Be prepared for frustration. Listen. Be respectful. And remain patient.
Focus on the positive: Emphasize why the change is happening and continue to highlight the wins your team will experience with the new system.
Provide everyone with the tools needed to succeed: Give your team the necessary training and support they need to learn the new system.
2. Not having clear data
Most organizations lack clear data. This is more likely if you rely on manual data entry and multiple disparate systems. All these different data silos open the door for mistakes. Errors can skew the real view of your business and its needs.
Plus, you might be looking at the wrong data points. As a result, you can’t adequately judge what’s working and what needs to be fixed.
The solution here is to decide which data points from the old system are useful and which ones are simply there because they came with your previous (non-custom) system.
This can be challenging because people get used to these data points. They’re stuck in their ways. And you’ll need to point out why you need to shift your metrics and how that can give you a better overall view.
3. Trying to recreate the previous system
You’re abandoning your old system for a reason. So, unless you’re moving to a new system as a cost-reduction technique, there’s no reason to simply recreate what you have.
New systems should transform how your team works and how you meet customer needs. As your business has grown, you’ve seen waste from manual tasks, bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Building a new system is your chance to rebuild those workflows.
In most cases, the best solution is to start from scratch and build the scalable system you need to meet the demands of your business.
Use the opportunity to build something that will take your business to the next level. And avoid the temptation to create a polished version of your old systems.
4. Aiming for “lean” with the wrong systems
The need to stay agile and lean will only continue to grow. New platforms with new features come out all the time. To stay competitive, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the platforms that will give you the edge and yield a strong ROI.
That can be very challenging if you build a custom application from scratch. The cost of custom application development continues to be expensive. And with IT departments bogged down with stacks of tickets and increased ticket times, adopting these new features can mean paying a lot more and waiting a lot longer.
If you’re a company trying to adopt more lean processes while adding more features, you should consider low-code application development.
Low-code allows users to build applications quickly using a visual interface. Essentially, you drag and drop custom apps and integrations into existence. Plus, these platforms typically follow the SaaS pricing model, meaning costs scale with use.
5. Building solutions without input from key players
When you’re building any custom solution, you need to consult the people who typically do the work first. Without their insights, you could be wasting time and money building a custom application that isn’t needed or one that no one will use. And no amount of onboarding or support is going to help your team embrace that.
Instead, you need to speak directly with the people who intimately know the processes and systems.
Their input is critical.
They’ll tell you whether your solution will work while helping you identify breakpoints and missing features that will be critical to the success of your new system.
What’s more, these key players can become your system evangelists, helping sell the value of the new system to the rest of your team.
The more your team sees their coworkers praising the new system, the more likely it will be that your system migration will be successful. Plus, you’ll set yourself up for superior results and a higher ROI. Finally, it’ll improve your employee engagement because they won’t be bogged down with menial, draining tasks.
6. Lack of naming conventions
One of the most prevalent issues in data governance and quality is mismatched names for files and information. The chance to re-engineer your existing systems is an opportunity to rethink your naming conventions. This will help you with data management, giving you clearer insights.
When developing a new system, you need to invest the time and think about how to make your titles obvious, descriptive and concise. If possible, stay away from any characters or numbers.
There are plenty of resources out there for you to follow file naming convention best practices. While basic, they’re not always obvious tips.
You should also create standard operating procedures for naming conventions. Hashing this out with your team and making sure everyone follows it when creating new tables or databases will help keep your data organized.
7. Rushing the discovery
Whether large or small, you need to map out the scope of your project when building a new system. This means conducting a detailed discovery and research process at the start of your work. You want to clearly map out your workflows, speak to the relevant people, and take any exceptions into account.
Rushing the discovery could end with you expanding the scope of the work mid-project to manage exceptions you may have overlooked. You may overlook critical functions, or you may miss parts of the process. And that can increase your costs and your time to market.
The best way to ensure a comprehensive discovery process is to ask questions. Lots of questions. Question the process, their KPIs and the necessary features. Put yourself in the shoes of the person using the software and try to figure out where the gaps are.
This process helps you better understand the project’s needs at every level while making room for exceptions that could break down a process or workflow.
8. Not auditing data and performance regularly
How often do you audit your data and systems? Developing a new system isn’t a ‘set it and forget it’ process. You need to reflect on your new workflows. And not just during the test and launch phase. You should regularly revisit your systems to identify potential areas to improve while making sure the data they collect are accurate.
The insights you gain from intelligent process improvement will help influence future system development. It’ll also make sure you have the data needed to build a better picture of your customer, your team and your business needs.
9. Developing new systems without clear goals
Automation for the sake of automation has the potential to be a huge waste. While there are clear benefits to automation, you need to focus on automating the processes that will cut costs and drive growth. And you cannot do that without clear goals.
When developing new business systems, you should speak to key stakeholders to ensure your business process transformations align with your company goals. Otherwise, you may end up working against your team or developing systems that don’t get you closer to those goals. Worse, your business process improvements could eat up valuable resources.
By Kevin Shuler