Complacency can be dangerous. It can stall business progress and enable the types of mistakes that cost organizations time and money.
David Kolssak, president of TURNkey IT in Chicago, said a sense of urgency is a key driver of his team’s productivity. When every part of the business understands that it should address important matters quickly, then the company’s overall throughput – and productivity – improves as a result.
“In an IT organization, where you’re primarily supporting people, you have to be quick to respond,” said Kolssak.
Think of your business has a handful of core teams: for example, sales, operations, and finance.
Each team has its individual responsibilities, and if each one addresses its tasks with urgency, collectively the company is able to achieve a higher throughput. On the flip side, if anyone lags in their attention to a task, the organization suffers as a result, Kolssak explains.
“When you talk about productivity, shortening the length of time between sale, collection, and completed project is really critical,” said Kolssak. “That’s really where the cash is in any business.”
Take, for example, the sales team. If your sales rep takes too long to quote a prospect, it can push back how soon your operations team can start working with that client and delay how soon you start getting paid for your services.
Something similar can happen if your operations team is too slow to follow up on a new order, or if your finance team struggles to process invoices quickly.
“Every business has bottlenecks,” Kolssak explains. “Staying productive is all about identifying those bottlenecks as they occur and responding to them quickly. Because once you solve one bottleneck, there's another one to deal with.”
Developing processes that discourage complacency helps IT service providers limit the number of bottlenecks that slow down operations. That, in turn, can lead to better business growth.
How do you know where to make improvements? It’s not easy, but careful evaluation goes a long way.
“Measuring productivity is difficult in IT. It’s not like you’re manufacturing widgets or cars,” said Kolssak. “A lot of the stuff you do is intangible but it’s a big deal to try to keep improving yourself and having consistent throughput.”
Self-improvement is a theme at TURNkey, where Kolssak challenges staff to develop their skills.
“We work a lot on productivity and score people on not only the ability to do their job, but also their ability to improve themselves,” he added. “Training is ongoing. We encourage knowledge sharing among the senior employees, and the mentoring of younger employees.”
But there’s no such thing as a one-time fix, Kolssak explains. Fixing bottlenecks is an ongoing battle, and there are always ways to iron out inefficiencies in any part of the IT services organization.
“We’re constantly re-examining ourselves to make the team more productive,” he explains. “And that means bringing in outside consultants to analyze our process. Trying to establish systems and structure is really something that keeps you productive and without that you’re just guessing.”