As a business owner, it's virtually impossible to know every little thing that goes on in every area of your company. By micromanaging, you'll spend more time checking up on members of your staff than running your business. Nevertheless, keeping an eye on whether employees are using their time effectively and how team productivity measures up is essential to any business's success. And this is where increasing visibility tools can help.
Visibility vs. employee monitoring
Before implementing any type of visibility initiative, one point of distinction is that visibility doesn't necessarily mean having to "watch" employees. Although visibility sounds synonymous with employee monitoring, the latter typically refers to installing employee-monitoring software on company-owned devices. Its purpose is to protect companies by preventing security breaches and data theft, as well as collecting user information such as websites visited, applications used, employee location, instant messaging conversations and more.
Visibility, on the other hand, refers to being able to gauge productivity, efficiency and progress by tracking tasks, projects, goals, meetings and other day-to-day activities. Geoff McQueen, CEO of cloud-based business services provider AffinityLive, shared with Business News Daily the importance of increasing visibility in small businesses and how to do so effectively and affordably. [Read Related Article: 4 Free Time-Tracking Tools for Business Owners]
Lack of visibility presents several problems for small businesses:
You never know how the business is doing at any time. This means you don't know how many emails were sent, how many meetings were attended, where each project stands, if a project is over budget, how much a retainer has been used, whether VIP clients are still in touch and more.
- Silos. Unshared information means that you constantly need to make inconsistent manual workarounds. This is both unreliable and time-consuming.
- Poor quality. You end up with fragmented processes, leading to poorer project quality. This is anything from cost overruns to poor visibility into the budget.
- Poor financial performance. You lack the ability to forecast your business and resources, which means you assume more risk.
And this is why:
These problems arise because of disparate tools for each part of the business. Having critical business information scattered in different inboxes, platforms and tools makes it so that there's no one source of truth for the business.
But here's how to fix it:
Integration improves visibility into core professional service assets — the people, processes and capital used to complete work. When business information is unified, you can leverage it to analyze the parts of your business that matter and make intelligent, data-informed decisions.
Small businesses can increase visibility by having an integrated customer relationship management (CRM), communications, project management and billing system. All business activity as it relates to clients and customers must be tracked in one place in order for this to succeed.
Most businesses follow a common process from prospect all the way through to payment. You can optimize this process by templating it into a system. This means that teams can work according to a pre-set workflow and managers can see where things are up to just by looking in one place. Standardizing these workflows allows small businesses to measure and improve around the edges.
[For a side-by-side comparison of the best CRM software, visit our sister site Business.com.]