Growth can mean different things to different people. For the CEO, growth means more capital, more market share and more recognition. For the CIO, it means more people, processes and pressure.
More often than not, IT spending shrinks relative to the company’s growth. In context, this makes sense. When companies are growing at the speed of light, CEOs simply have to take advantage of the upward trajectory. This often means heavy investments in sales, distribution and product or service development.
But during these periods of intense growth, the CIO has to overcome a breathtaking amount of new challenges with resources that pale in comparison to the output required. It makes for a difficult time. But making it work reaps enormous benefits for everyone in the company.
In effect, the number of people being served by the CIO grows faster than the CIO’s ability to serve them. It’s not that you’re just trying to keep the lights on. It’s that there isn’t enough time to hit all the switches.
An example: if you have twice as many people in the office, twice as many printers won’t solve your document problems. In fact, extra devices may mean extra complexity.
Small business processes, growing company needs
When companies grow, they don’t leave their inefficiencies behind. Their inefficiencies grow too. And what might have been a dull ache when you were a small company turns into a sharp pain when you’re a bigger one.
Too many steps in your invoicing workflow? That’s a problem when you have 30 customers – but it’s a potential disaster when you have 300.
A worrying lack of documentation
The lack of documented workflow and process design when you’re small makes it hard to monitor, enforce and improve the processes you do have in place. This can translate into haphazard workflows – unacceptable for a small IT organization.
Consider the case of how information flows through your organization. You might not know how inefficiencies are compounded when there’s no established process for managing, storing and sharing information.
In our experience, the key to making growth work is making sure process works. Ben Horowitz, former CEO of Opsware, articulates it well:
“The purpose of process is communication. If there are five people in your company, you don’t need process, because you can just talk to each other. With 4,000 people, communication becomes more difficult. You need something more robust—a communication bus or, the conventional term for human communication buses, a process.”
To learn more, see Ben’s post: Taking the Mystery out of Scaling a Company.
To find out how to use document management to make growth work, read our slideshare “4 things that work when you’re small – but not when you grow”, and visit xerox.com/smb.
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