“How good are your current business systems?”
That’s a pretty broad question. The answer, of course, depends on what you define as your “business systems” and what you perceive as being “good”.
Your business systems will undoubtedly include, in varying degrees, one or more software packages (which may or may not be integrated), spreadsheets, forms and templates, electronically-stored files, lever arch folders of paper documents, and possibly handwritten books and records.
How “good” they are is not only about whether your systems are aligned with your needs as a construction business today (ie “good enough for now”) but, more importantly, whether they are suitable for continuing to support you in the future.
Systems are the guardian of your data
They say: “Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king”. But I add: “Data is everything”.
Financial, commercial and employee data is the lifeblood of every business – construction and house building businesses are no different. The efficient collation and provision to senior management of accurate, relevant, up-to-date data on a timely basis is business critical. Possession of great data is key to understanding and interpretating an organisation’s performance and financial position. It allows effective day-to-day and strategic decisions to be made and, ultimately, helps to ensure the continuation and success of the business as a whole.
If you’re finding it’s challenging or time-consuming to provide core information to management and external bodies (such as auditors, tax advisers, HMRC and the CITB) then it’s probably time you considered reviewing the options for renewing your business systems. Systems which are already not delivering to the needs of the business are unlikely to magically improve.
Periodically assess the capability of existing business systems. That gives you foresight of any shortcomings before any potential issues impact on the organisation’s operations.
Determine your systems change goals
Recognising the need for improvement in your business systems is the first milestone in the change journey. Drivers for systems change include current or expected future business growth, entry or expansion into new products or markets, and a desire for operating efficiencies. Existing software might also be running slowly, have accessibility or downtime issues, be no longer supported, or otherwise have become outdated or not fit for purpose.
Determine what you want to achieve in making that change. Documenting a series of objectives at this stage sets a core framework for the journey ahead. Know what success looks like. Work out how you’ll be able to measure that success so you can look back later to prove you’ve achieved your goals.
This is the first of a series of blogs about the systems change journey within the construction industry by Steven King, Eque2’s Head of Change Management. Steven is a Big Four-qualified Chartered Accountant with over 20 years’ experience in senior finance roles in construction businesses and groups. He has led major business systems projects within the industry several times, including at 4 of Eque2’s existing customers. Steven has the benefit of real-world implementation experience, super-user hands-on systems knowledge, and a record of success in delivering big change projects involving our solutions on-time and on-budget.
Next time: Making the systems change decision
Eque2 provides modern solutions allowing all types and sizes of construction, contracting, housebuilding and maintenance businesses to manage the full lifecycle of a project from anywhere, on any device. For more information, visit www.eque2.co.uk or call us on 0161 939 0111.