Workaholics Aren’t Heroes: 5 Steps to a Better-Run Business
While you may not say it out loud, your perception of success most likely involves working extra long hours. It is a prevailing notion in our culture that working at least 60 hours a week, staying plugged in through mobile devices 24/7, and constant multitasking are true measures of success.
Probably nowhere is this perception more prevalent than in the IT world, where keeping costs down while boosting productivity is a way of life that can border on obsession. Don’t get me wrong: Productivity and cost savings are good things, but it’s important to take a step back occasionally to assess whether all those extra hours of work produce any real benefits.
Think of it as spring cleaning, a time to clear the cobwebs from your business operations to ensure you are working smarter, not harder. MSPs use technology with useful reporting capabilities and alert features that help them assess whether they are truly productive or simply creating a lot of unnecessary busy work. The same RMM and PSA tools you use to help your customers run their businesses productively and efficiently can help you assess your own operations.
The following five steps will get you on your way. This is a starting point; you may need to add or subtract steps based on your business’ specific requirements.
- Set goals with measurable metrics: Despite all the technology available to MSPs to track the performance of their business, it’s still not uncommon to hear the owner of an IT services firm voice vague notions of what the business’ yearly goals are. Too often, MSPs “hope” for a revenue goal or number of new customers, instead of setting specific targets and executing on a strategy to meet them complete with monthly and quarterly milestones. Each milestone should be reviewed at the proper time. If they aren’t being met, figure out why so you can take necessary steps or, if nothing else, adjust your goals.
- Evaluate staff productivity: Just as you set goals for the overall business, you must set individual goals for the staff. And as with the business, you also need to periodically measure performance against those goals to determine if adjustments are necessary. Use the information you collect in these assessments to determine whether you need to add more staff or transfer some of your operations to a technology partner. For instance, would you be better off having a vendor partner handle the help desk on your behalf?
- Know your staff: How well do you know what each of your staff members is doing? Are they doing what they were hired for or have their jobs transitioned into something else? If it’s the latter, was the transition by design or an unintended twist? If unintended, what in the business should be adjusted to make sure people are doing the jobs they should be or, if they have to transition to new duties, it’s because it makes sense for the individual and the business?
- Don’t let customers run the business: Your business depends on satisfying customer needs, but it’s important to set expectations correctly. Promise only what you can deliver, or less. Only then can you meet or exceed expectations. If you are constantly expending time and energy, and losing revenue, because you are not delivering, most likely you have an expectations problem that should be fixed.
- Invite feedback: Good feedback can contribute to business improvements you otherwise may not think of. Consider your relationship with vendors: When vendors enhance their technology based on feedback from you, that helps you serve your customers. The same is true for your customers when you improve a process or service based on their suggestions.
There is no question that running an IT services business is tough work requiring long hours. However, if those long hours don’t contribute much to productivity, it’s time to reassess your operations and your processes. Workaholics aren’t heroes, even if working yourself to the ground is perceived as a measure of success in today’s business environment.
Maurice Saluan is VP-Channel Management for Zenith Infotech as well as seasoned sales veteran in the managed service arena. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Saluan’s blog entries here.