I often get asked why one software is never enough to manage an entire business. While there are some great “all in one” platforms that do the lion’s share of managing and automating your business [like Dubsado!], the more complex your business is, the more you have to have a few programs that work together in harmony to manage your day to day and overall business needs. Having a cohesive Firm Management System is the secret to a thriving business.
Many people I speak with are often resistant to having multiple software programs in their business ‘ecosystem.’ When first implementing a new system or group of software programs into a larger system, it can get overwhelming. It is hard to see all the pieces and how they fit together. But I will tell you the very process of evaluating your business for Firm Management Systems [FMS for short] is a huge first step in creating a more manageable business that can scale as your business scales. Taking the time to understand what functions your business needs to manage (lead management, client management, marketing management, financial management, project management, correspondence management, team management, and time management) and how you need to integrate the functions will not only help you understand better how your business needs to run, but also helps you find inefficiencies in your current FMS structure (or lack of structure!).
Once you better understand the key functions of your business, the next step is to map them all out. Whether you draw them all out on a piece of notebook paper, play with mapping software, or even use a spreadsheet to list everything out and how it all ties together, just spend the time understanding your overall business flow – for clients and for your team – and really ensure that you know what your needs are for information management and processing, and also mark out opportunities to add additional service lines and opportunities to grow (add team members, for example). As you take the time to map it all out, you will realize how complex your business really is. Complex businesses rarely fit into one “box” so having a clear map helps you better identify what processes you need so that you can find the right mix of software to address your needs.
Complex businesses rarely fit into one “box”…
After you have a map, consider what software programs you are currently using and take some time to evaluate them to see if they are the right tools for the job, and even if you are underutilizing them. Can one software address more than one function of your business, or perhaps two software programs can speak to one another to better process information. This is also the time to have a gut check with yourself to see if you are holding on to programs because they are trendy, you don’t feel like migrating information or any other reason they don’t serve your business. Too often, I see business owners hold onto programs out of sentimentality and they end up holding back their business. True change and growth only happen when you let go of what doesn’t serve you and embrace what does. And be sure to also be honest with yourself to be sure you will actually use the programs you implement. If they are too complicated or are not a pleasant interface, you will end up not using them and eventually rework your FMS again.
Once you have mapped out your business processes and landed on the right mix of systems, it is now time to implement. This is a crucial stage and takes time. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, your FMS is not going to be up and running in a week. No matter how many hours you put in. Setting up, testing, adjusting and testing more just takes energy. You can’t always test processes in a controlled environment and expect them to work once unleashed upon the world. You may also find that the systems you thought would work together actually don’t and either you need to rework, upgrade or just find a new way to manage that function of your business entirely. The implementation phase of FMS takes 4 to 6 weeks on small businesses and can take up to a year for large corporations. Be patient. Build in time each day for the implementation process, and just let the minor frustrations of re-working your entire business infrastructure wash over you. Really, it is worth all the headaches!
As you get your FMS into place, you should start to notice a few things – first, your business will start to become more effortless. You should start to have the right information in the right place in the right time (imagine just sending off an email instead of searching through all your leads to be sure they are on your mailing list or having your current financial picture updated with just a few clicks!) and it should be easier to sit down and work instead of sorting information and spending time figuring out where you are at any given time. Second, you will find that you have a structure in place to actually grow your business. Less time spent on administrative tasks means you have more time for clients, marketing, anything that improves your time return on investment. You will also probably realize you no longer need to work until midnight every night on your business, which is truly the key. You will start to be able to produce more with less effort, which is the focus of any firm management system.
I hope these tips help you better understand the process of Firm Management System implementation. If you are ready to see what a new, improved business looks like, let’s chat. Check out my Systems Bootcamp for guided support of the process of implementing your Firm Management System by yourself or in concert with your team. Our team also offers full implementation / turnkey setup, check out our Start Here page for more details. And if you aren’t sure what path you want to take, but know you need something, schedule a call today: