Health checks for businesses

In the world of business enterprise, there is simply no time to stand still or take the foot off the gas. You might be established, things may be going well, but no business should ever become complacent. Every operation needs to be reviewed regularly to ensure all areas are working as they should – call it an annual MOT, if you will. Here are a few stages to consider when reviewing your business performance:

Analyse your competitors

Your business may be No.1 in the market, it may dominate market share, but don’t get complacent. Take the time (and money) to analyse what your competitors are doing – who they are, what they offer, how they price their products, and so on. Are they doing anything differently? Is there anything they are doing which you can learn from? It goes without saying that you need to be prepared to react, too, should a new competitor appear. If the right people in the business are doing their jobs properly, you should be aware of any movement months in advance.

Tap in to your customers

The lifeblood of any enterprise, without doubt. Keep customers happy, and they’ll keep coming back to you. Lose them, and face the consequences. Of course, in huge companies it is not so easy to speak directly to customers, so consider the benefit of text analytics software, to tap into them and get accurate feedback. For example, if you’re a multi-national magazine company offering subscriptions, you can use such tools to gauge customer satisfaction, or if you’re an insurance provider you can assess incoming complaints and comments and manage the customer experience.

Look after your staff

A business is only as good as its staff? Quite probably. The better – and happier – the employees in a business are, the more productive they will be. Make sure staff are looked after. Again, in large global companies, the processes need to be structured from the top down, with line managers fully aware of their responsibilities. Appraisals must be scheduled and carried out on time, targets established, performance reviewed, and career opportunities discussed and encouraged. Review bonuses and team building sessions. Bottom line? Employees must be motivated and feel valued.

Review your long-term strategy

The business might have an annual plan, a five-year plan, or a ten-year strategy. Direction is important but reviewing the overall master plan is a must – annually, or even more frequently. It’s not a sign of weakness to hold off on a project, cancel expansion plans, or develop a different area of the business if that’s the way the wind is blowing. The business environment is ever moving, customer habits change, competitors come and go, the economic situation fluctuates. Be flexible, to a point.

Embrace technology

“Technology has become perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world,” wrote Noubar Afeyan in a report by the World Economic Forum which identified the top technological trends in 2014. Among those trends nominated include brain-computer interfaces – enabling the ability to control a computer using only the power of the mind. Imagine a 1,000-strong customer contact team all operating those devices! And they might arrive sooner than you think.

That’s an extreme example but businesses should always look at their own internal systems and processes to assess whether they are working as efficiently as possible. Also, companies should audit their equipment. Working with outdated software and hardware might seem like a money-saver but in reality it’s not if it takes employees twice the time to complete a task because of poorly-functioning equipment. Don’t be afraid to invest and see the rewards further down the line.

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Osho is Tech blogger. He contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on TecheHow.