May 8, 2018 Stewart Marshall

The Importance of Processes

After 20 years working in commercial R&D, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that I love technology and innovation. And while I’m a bit of a fanboy of all such things, I’m also a firm believer that they lose a great deal of their value when education and good old fashioned system design are ignored.

Enter today’s topic of conversation: the above excerpt from an email I received from a CRM distributor.


While this isn’t a particularly good advertisement for the company concerned or the CRM itself, it is an excellent example of the importance of wrapping your activities in a proper process so that mistakes like this don’t happen.

If a business is to maximise the effectiveness of its IT, the technology has to be up to the job, the staff trained, and procedures and practices to follow. In this case, I don’t doubt for a minute that the CRM is quite capable of substituting a first name from the contact database, and I would guess that the user was capable enough of putting the email together within the CRM itself, so it would seem that a process was lacking.

Baby Steps

Processes and procedures for the correct use of IT systems are essential, particularly when it comes to user designed functionality. Software developers do their best to ensure that silly mistakes can’t happen, but they can only achieve so much, and there are only so many assumptions that can be made before it’s down to a human to interpret the veracity of something.

And once people get involved, so do illnesses, holidays and a variety of other eventualities that mean that the person who did the work last month isn’t available this month. And how many SMEs can really afford to have two people who are the experts on a given task?

Best practice then, as painful as it may be, is to make sure important jobs are documented so that someone less skilled can do them correctly when the time comes.

To fail to do so is to invite a failure such as this, and while the sky won’t fall in, each such mistake will have a cost somewhere, and as I wrote recently, it’s a series of small improvements that will make a real difference.

Today’s Top Takeaway

Are your systems documented to provide cover in the event of unexpected absence?

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