The 3 Ways You’re Killing Your Competitive Advantage

August 27, 2015

Your processes, your business model and your workflows will need some ironing out. That’s just a fact of life in business. We all have kinks and growing pains. That being said, every organization will also come with inherent pros -those are your competitive advantage -the positive things that make your team unique.

Your competitive advantage might be purposeful, and it might just be intrinsic to your team. Whatever it is, define it, embrace it and be sure these common poor workplace practices aren’t extinguishing it.

Running Your Business on Excel

If you have a few simple numbers to run, or an ad hoc project with very few moving parts (like only you) excel makes a lot of sense. It should never, we repeat, never be used as a business database. When we get the opportunity to sit down with potential clients, we find they have a few of the same reasons for sticking with the old standby, excel…

Excel is fine for the amount of data we have.

Everyone already knows how to use it.

We’ve always used excel.

Whatever your particular competitive advantage is, it will always be overshadowed by poor information management. The utilization of sound, measurable data is any business’s strongest shot at improvement and growth. Businesses that rely on spreadsheets to store, organize and interpret their data are putting themselves at a huge disadvantage compared to those who are willing to invest in a real database.

Databases can be shared and worked on by multiple users and they support formal workflow processes. Plainly put, spreadsheets aren’t built for multiple users. When we look at this on a larger scale, spreadsheets are sometimes shared with hundreds of people, reviewing, approving and making edits to one document. At the end of this process, each and every one of those sheets must be consolidated manually. Please take a moment to think about that.

We could go on forever with this one, that’s for another blog post…and don’t even get us started on security.

Tailoring your Workflow to Your CRM

We’ve seen it a hundred times, instead of going with a tailored or customizable CRM, the choice was made to instead tailor an established workflow. That’s fine and dandy if the workflow is flawed and is being improved upon, but that’s not generally what happens.

Many organizations realize their competitive advantage flows from a particular process that has been refined over time, and with the right people in place. Your CRM should support these such workflows, not impede or alter them.

When thought is put into the customization of a good CRM, it feels almost intuitive to users. It should feel like this system is aligning itself to your team, rather than the other way around. No, a CRM cannot do this on its own, there must be a strong, supportive vendor behind it.

Failing to Empower Your Staff

Let’s get one thing straight, no matter how awesome your tech is, your number one asset in business is your human capital. Use them, empower them and seek return on your investment in them in a more enlightened way than in the past.

A great example comes from Zappos. Their competitive advantage can almost directly be attributed to their unique stance on customer care. Their sales teams aren’t merely order takers and the go between for the customer and line managers. Instead, Zappos employees are empowered to make customer care decisions and actions on their own. How much more sense does that make?!

“I want to feel like I can make decisions for what I am doing and other people want that as well. When people are empowered they feel a sense of ownership.”

Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

We contend that there is a better way to integrate technology into your workforce and workflows. We don’t believe in the rigidity of unwieldy bureaucracies, we believe in change. We love to find an organization’s competitive advantage and create processes, systems and workflows that support that. Stop killing your competitive advantage with archaic business practices and become the nimble, market share winner you got into business to be. We can help. Connect with a group of lifelong learners of workflow now.