In our industry it’s easy to lose traction and momentum. In your business development process, it’s vital that you document your processes for the long-term scope, and commit to the documentation to avoid the indecisive and noncommittal platform traps.
Platforms rise and fall within the industry. It’s easy to lose focus, and it’s even easier to sucker yourself into a new concept that utilizes a different platform. There are four important tips you should consider before switching virtual platforms:
1. The Cost
Aside from the subscription fees to a virtual platform you have to account for the labor that goes into launching the platform — and the labor that goes into the SOP development for supporting it. (Remember, a platform is of little use without developing and documenting a system to go with it.) We can spend 20-hours developing one SOP for one platform, and another 40-hours training your staff on the platform and the SOP that goes along with it. You also have to consider how that platform integrates with existing platforms you’re using, because every time you switch a platform, you are risking a bigger change to your SOP, which can result in thousands of dollars off the bottom line. Let’s also not forget about the cost and risk of transferring the data from one platform to the other. Each time you transfer data you comprise the integrity of that data.
When you set up your platforms and train your team, you will finally feel the momentum of everything in your business. It takes time for that process and SOP to become “natural.” At first it may even seem complicated, but after a couple weeks it becomes second nature. You must account for this “ramp up” process in the costs for establishing your virtual platforms – and when changing platforms. You must also realize that your team will gain momentum and your business will start excelling. This is a vulnerable time. If you switch your virtual platforms after the momentum has been established, you’ll cause a lot of frustration and confusion with your team, and in many cases the changes can be overwhelming. This will cause a kink in your productivity (or worse). Before you can switch the virtual platforms, you have to prepare yourself, your clients, and your team for the process.
3. Customer Service
If your virtual platforms cross over to your client-relation aspects, you’ll have to consider how it will affect them. You’ll be really surprised at how many people find “tech” a superior challenge. You most definitely don’t want to switch gears with them more than you have to. Those who can keep up, will still get annoyed, because they’ll lose their momentum. Those who find tech a challenge, well, they could lose respect and focus on your service, and are likely to get more overwhelmed, frustrated, or even worse — lost.
4. The Learning Curve
When you work on a platform, you have a learning curve. If you’ve paid for someone to develop your systems, they’ll know all the details and quirks of the process. However, if you’re developing the system yourself, you need to commit to your platforms long enough to truly learn them and get them implemented to their fullest potential. There are many advanced features, and hidden quirks in the virtual platforms, and if you keep working all those details into your SOP, you’ll season your processes. So take the time to learn the virtual platform, but consider every time you move your platforms, you have to start over in that learning process. Again, another loss of momentum.
We always recommend a documented process, and a commitment to that business plan. We don’t take “commitment” lightly either. On the other hand, we’re entrepreneurs and we require some fluidity in our business, I know. Changes are to be expected, and holding your business to some flexible standards is acceptable, after all it’s that “flexibility” that makes us tick.
With that said, there are times when moving virtual platforms, and changing up the business plan and SOP are critical to success when there’s the growth factor taking precedent in your business. It’s vital that you think it through, work with your Operations Manager, and redevelop the business plan effectively. You must take everything (including these short 4 tips) into consideration when moving a virtual platform. (After all, you’re refuting that serious commitment.) When all those processes are complete, and you’ve developed your new plan, then you may launch the project management for the new process.
Take your time, manage the budget, and let your project management team do the transition the proper way. There’s nothing scarier than losing data, so you should plan the process out to avoid obstacles such as that.