Making your business scalable

 |  By: Steve Johnson In: Growth and scalability

In this case, by ‘scalable’ we mean having the ability to support a company growing from (say) 10 or 20 people right up to five hundred, all with exactly the same software, safely and reliably. The last thing any business wants is to discover that they have suddenly outgrown their system during a crucial time of growth, with all the problematical data, technical and user implications that would follow.

How might you outgrow some systems?

  1. Technical limits have been reached.
  2. Information limits have been reached. As businesses grow, new needs for information arise.
  3. Accessibility limits have been reached. The system may not have been planned for multi-platforms and phone / browser access from any location.

So, scalability is a big issue. We talked to a number of business managers who have had to wrestle with the problem in their previous systems. The conversations revealed how real the problem can be, and what the before-and-after effect can be.

For example, one Managing Director described their old methods:

“It wasn’t scalable. We needed a system that would take care of the business fundamentals and allow us to grow when we chose to.”

He also talked about the type of growth he was planning, saying that gone are the days when a business would simply grow. If you're not careful, handling the mechanics of growth can be a big distraction from your core work with clients, and at the same time you can get the cost balance wrong. So, what type of growth was he looking for?

“One big reason for implementing Synergist was to avoid wasting so much time running the mechanics of the business when we want to focus purely on clients. So, when planning our growth we went for ‘lean growth.’”

Scalability is one of the most commonly-cited reasons that our users give when choosing their new system. For example, managing growth was high on Tayburn’s agenda, as Steven Clark, their Financial and Commercial Manager, told us:

“Synergist gives us scalability. It’s all about growth. It makes growth more manageable.”

Many of our users have indeed turned out to experience impressive growth levels. Steve Laird, Finance Director of Online Design & Engineering Ltd, told us:

“While with Synergist, we’ve grown from a £12m-£13m company to one that is about three times that size. Synergist has played a part in that.”

For some, ‘scalable’ means ‘scalable processes’. Mubaloo, another Synergist user, have become the UK’s leading mobile consultancy. Having robust processes are important to them:

“When working with FTSE 250 companies, you have to prove that you can do complex work, satisfy client requirements and always be professional. This comes from having the right processes and systems in place that grow with your business.”

For others, scalability is more about empowering the team. One  Managing Director told us:

“People are more empowered now. Decisions that used to drop relentlessly into my lap every day are now taking place with no fuss.”

David Ladds, Director of Bladonmore, has an uncomplicated way of looking at scalability:

“Thoroughly understanding time and the value of time is key. For us to have scale we need to know exactly how we spend our time. It’s that simple.”

In summary

We obviously recognise that growing your business involves far more than the choice of management system. However it does have a pivotal role, not least because getting the wrong system can act like a brake on growth, and switching systems in a hurry because the old one is broken is a grim and even dangerous state to be in.

The managers we quote here had this in common: They wanted something to help them grow and give them the sort of information needed to make informed decisions. The Chief Operating Officer of one project-based company had this to say about it:

“Synergist is the foundation of our business growth.”

See also