Change is the only constant occurrence in business life! As a result, businesses should regularly revisit their processes to be able to keep abreast of latest developments and be relevant. All the activities of businesses are about the five Ms (men, management, money, machinery and minutes). Any entrepreneur that wants to be successful must continuously revisit his or her business process based on these five Ms. The world, at large, is now a global village. Everybody goes to market on the internet and businesses are done across the world with technology advancement and improved logistics services. Almost all businesses should update the strategies and tactics in their production, human resources, tools and marketing strategy to meet constantly changing market realities.
Major mistake normally made by business organisations is that they usually do not record their day to day process. They see their activities as a routine and natural occurrence. This makes it difficult for them to know what is working and what is not working. Organisations should know which of their actions/activities worked well and should be continued, and which should be discountenanced. If every action and activity embarked on by an organisation is continuously going on fine, then the organisation is not taking enough risk, it is not being innovative and it is not aiming to be a unicorn. If an organisation is experimenting enough, not everything will work as planned and it can only grow from the lessons learned.
Organisations should have dreams that they dread themselves. An organisation goal or goals should be a thing or things to worry about. Creating the first business plan may have been an easy task, but updating a plan is easier and more fun. During the conception stage of a start-up, a company is likely to have little direct experience and no track record or business data, so many of the manufacturing, marketing and operational forecasts were mere guesses. Now that the company is in operation, it has some experience; feedback and historical information that it can rely on to accurately determine its future. This determination of the future should involve all members of staff.
Business strategic plans are living documents that need to be revisited regularly to make sure they are still relevant. By updating the business strategic plan, the stakeholders can continue to use and benefit from the strategies and ploys. Moreover, business plans are ‘futuristic’, so they are based on estimates and guesswork, which means they should be updated often. The five Ps of marketing is a strong base for business success. The five Ps are Product, Price, Promotion, People and Place.
More particularly, businesses need to review their processes due to the following:
1. A competitor has copied an organisation’s product or service and is marketing it under a different brand: A business must do valuation of its intangible assets, especially its intellectual property and have intellectual property protection (patents, copyrights), and be ready to use legal means to fight imitators.
2. Competitors have staged a price war by reducing prices for similar products, extending business hours, liberalising their return policy, providing free delivery or offering free extras etc: A company must have strategy and wherewithal to match competitors if it wants to stay in business. There must be plans on what to do if this happens.
3. The economy has changed (inflation, recession, unemployment rates), impacting potential customers’ ability to buy your product or service: The major economic risks in business include increase in interest rate, inflation, recession and increase in foreign exchange rate. These will definitely have a negative impact on a company’s revenues, requiring adjustments in production, staffing and revenue.
4. An organisation wins a big customer or a big contract: Business is a pool of risks. When a business wins a big contract or receives a new order, it may require additional funds to execute this order. Organisations need to sit down and review their funding strategy to meet this new order.
5. A major customer is no longer patronising an organisation or cut it off or changed its terms and conditions: Some suppliers do supply on credit as a business plan to win customers. Assuming the supplier of your business now has adequate customers that he feels it can no longer supply on credit, what will your organisation do? All businesses must have risk management in place and review their risk management style regularly.
6. Regulatory changes by the government may impact business organisations: Unforeseen regulatory changes, for example the cashless policy of the Nigerian government, may affect business operations. In many African countries, the issue of taxation is flexible, especially Value Added Tax (VAT). Organisations must be ready to meet changes in statutory regulations regularly.
7. An important or key member of staff left and it has affected productivity: Corporate organisations must be organised and operated in such a way that nobody should be indispensable. In a situation where a talented and ‘difficult-to-get’ member of staff has left an organisation, the organisation should source from replacement outside or look for alternatives internally. Where this is not possible, the organisation must downsize or reduce expenses.
8. When a company wants to change for better and aspire to move to the next level: Obtaining growth funds from a bank or angel investor requires a more coordinated plan. Even where a business does not need additional funding, a move by a business to grow requires the buy-in of every member of staff. All members of staff must be carried along in the plan to grow a business. They must know the process involved, the challenges and what is in it for them.
Businesses are about innovation and continuous breakthroughs in bridging market needs. Most business organisations usually do their review annually, while some do it biannually. How regular an organisation does its review depends on the type of organisation, the stage it is in its business lifecycle and the challenges being faced by the organisation. While some organisations adopt a retreat method outside the organisation, some do it in-house. The facilitator can be a member of staff or a consultant from outside the organisation. It is now a core practice and not a choice for business organisations to revisit their strategic plan and review their processes as often as it is necessary.