In my practice as a corporate employee I worked in an environment where downsizing was the rule and not the exception. This activity seemed to be consistently taking place throughout each quarter of the year.
During a conference call, someone asked this question to a member of the senior management team,”How do you recommend that we work toward our objectives given that we are losing resources but are tasked with producing the same level of results?” The answer given was one word, “Automation.”
That call ended shortly afterwards and there wasn’t much explanation given with any level of real detail. No actionable steps or roadmaps were recommended or suggested. We were all left feeling like we had not learned anymore than we knew before the call. Continue reading →
Ever notice that you are performing the same task over and over in your business? Such as answering the same questions from different employees or customers? Have you ever found yourself working on something and then realized as you are working that you have completed this same task many times in recent memory?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could spend your time working on growing your business by developing brand new relationships with customers and focusing your time on strategy instead of menial task. Wouldn’t it be nice if your employees or customers could find the answers that they needed when they needed them in your own words just the way you would say it without asking you? How efficient would your business be if your employees could do things exactly the way that you would without having to come to you first and without being told by you to do those things. Suppose your customers could get the answers to their questions without calling or emailing you?
If your answer to any of the questions in the first paragraph is yes, then you should be automating repeatable task by documenting them with business processes. And although this will not the stop the task from occurring, it will remove you the business owner, from the cycle so that you can work on more important things like growing your business. If the answer to any of the questions in the second paragraph was yes, then you should continue reading and get started today. Continue reading →
This is a rant base on true events. On multiple occasions I have had experiences with a company in its early stages and the customer service is great. They seem to go out of their way to make sure you are satisfied as a customer. However, when that same business starts to generate revenue, the customer service tanks. Your calls to the support number have extreme hold times, your emails go without responses, people start talking, complaints begin to show up on the internet. Sound familiar?
My belief is that these companies fall into one of three categories;
The don’t have any idea how to run effective operations for their businesses.
They are throwing so much at marketing to acquire new customers that they don’t care about the ones that they lose.
They do not care because they have customers now and they are getting paid so thats all that matters.
If it’s 1 then they should read this post on customer service. If it’s 2 then they should get used to pumping dollars into marketing because they will need to to stay in business. If it’s 3 then good luck staying out of bankruptcy court.
Objective: To write a short tutorial the uses Sinatra DSL for the backend, is styled with the twitter bootstrap and PostgreSQL for the database and the heroku hosting platform for hosting.This is a branch off of a post about Learning Rails. I branched it because I found Sinatra interesting and wanted to document buildiing a production app.
In my practice as a consultant and a business analyst, I noticed a trend that makes no sense to me.
A decision is made within the business. It may be discussed with other employees. This decision is then put into place. However, there is no documentation to support why or when this all happened.
In the short term everything seems to be okay. The long term reality is that at some point in the future, the decision is revisited for whatever reason.
No one, including the business owner can recall why or when this idea was ever put into place.
So the entire discussion starts all over again and a new idea is put into place to replace the old one not because its better but because some of the people that were apart of the original discussion are no longer employed at the business and the rest of the employees don’t remember.
A common justification for this practice is that it only takes a few minutes to create a new process. In the case of a single incident this may be true, though it is still avoidable.
However, the reality is that this happens more than once. In fact, it’s more likely to be happening multiple times per day or week. Multiply that over the course of the year and minutes quickly turn into days/weeks/months.
This is a huge waste of time and resources and not very efficient. Why not create a simple document that contains the process and share it with everyone on the team/company that contains timestamps and reasons that decisions were made?
If you own a technical product such as a SaaS app and you have customers, then you should not be a stranger to the term customer support. If you are building one then you should be thinking about customer support. A cornerstone of good technical support is good user documentation. Before I started the development of quikstarts.com‘s backend (authoring application) I conducted one of many surveys with about 75 entrepreneurs who were in various stages of product development. In hind sight, this was not the best group for me to survey because it was not the core audience for the product but it was still a valuable learning experience. Data analysis never hurt anyone.
Back to the survey. Some surveyed were building products, others worked at companies that had already released products and some were founders with launched products and customers. The survey results revealed some interesting things. One of the survey questions was, “Do you feel that your product requires user documentation” almost half of the responders (45%) felt that they’d channeled Steve Jobs and their software application did not require user documentation because it was just that intuitive and awesome. This was an actual multiple choice answer from the survey. Continue reading →
The term “Speed Kills” is commonly used in sports analogies when someone has been put at an obvious disadvantage during an event. I am a fan of the NFL and its common to hear someone say, “man, he got burnt” which means that one player has left another a few steps behind as he strides into the end zone.
A 15 second search of Twitter shows evidence to back up my statement.
In the Start up world raising Venture capital is referred to as a means of speeding up the process to success. The reason being is that raising money allows you access to resources such as developers, marketing budget and mentors (providing you get the right investors). In the Internet culture, lots of information is shared freely. The pro here is that there are resources available for nearly any topic and those resources are growing. However, there are con’s also. One of those con’s is that noise also known as spam, crappy sales sites for poor quality products or fraudulent sites also grow in number. Continue reading →