Do we Recognise Present and Emerging Trends and Threats in our Business Processes?

Do we recognise trends and threats in our business processes

Business improvement applies to so many different business processes from customer service and handling complaints to business development and risk management. Not all processes in a business are formally recorded, but of course those that are governed by legal requirements generally are, even within organisations where there isn’t a legal requirement to do so. Obviously this is because business leaders fully understand the risks associated with non-compliance. My experience is that the breadth and detail of the processes associated with the way a business operates depends on how seriously they take a particular aspect of running their business, or how important something is in respect of the negative and financial impact. However, as business leaders, particularly of small businesses, we are not always aware of what could have a negative impact, or bring an opportunity, when it comes to emerging trends and threats. Keeping well informed about these things is challenging and of course there’s the old saying that ‘ignorance is bliss’, well I guess in some cases it is until a catastrophe happens. Certainly when I was Managing Director of an e-commerce company trading in a global market, very different to other businesses I have led, it was a steep learning curve to fully understand the legalities, sector trends and the changing competitive market which can bring possible threats and opportunities to the business.

SWOTBusiness improvement means very different things to different people depending on where you consider your business to be and the market you operate in. At eLearning Marketplace our biggest sellers are compliance online short courses, even though we sell e-learning covering over 80 different topics; not really a surprise you might say and I would agree. Anything to do with legal compliance is high up on the agenda of all businesses. However, if we consider other aspects of the business, such as the use of technology, it wasn’t long ago that basic training in IT application software was greatly in demand, but since the topic has been covered extensively in schools and colleges, less people are entering the job market without these skills. It is much broader technology skills that are required by employers today, such as using social media for business, use of mobile devices for work related tasks, cloud computing, and information and cyber security. Particularly for those businesses that have implemented a BYOD, bring your own device, strategy, this type of training is critical. The security of devices and data, and understanding cloud computing; what it is, what it means in a business context and the security aspects that need to be considered are all vitally important. Staff lacking knowledge in this area can have an extremely negative impact on an organisation.

Another area of business improvement that can be overlooked is risk, and not just health and safety risks. There are of course many threats that businesses are exposed to and where risk needs to be carefully assessed e.g. fraud, online security, litigation and employment disputes to name but a few. For small businesses just understanding what the threats are to be able to ascertain the risks can be very challenging. Once a business or individual understands the threats it’s important that they follow an efficient process to record the risk, identify the actions to mitigate that risk and put controls in place. Of course even if one person in the organisation has the responsibility to conduct this process, all staff should have a good understanding of the threats and how the business expects them to deal with them.

We often react to problems in a business and maybe solve the problem, but do we stop it happening again? Rather like taking a pain killer to stop a headache, we stop the pain but don’t cure the cause.  So it seems very sensible to get a good understanding of the processes that can help us stop problems happening in the first place, get to the bottom of why a problem has occurred and raise awareness among staff of what these processes are.

No person or business is immune to disaster; anything can happen, from theft to natural disasters to financial loss through any means. While we can’t prevent the unthinkable from striking, we can make sure you are fully prepared, and that adverse events have no power over you or your business.

That’s where business continuity planning comes in, making sure your business is bulletproof in the face of disaster.

Easily said, but often difficult to implement within a busy day to day business environment. But, sometimes we really do have to make the time to understand and implement, or improve processes that could protect or move our business forward.

Take a look at our online training courses on Business Analysis, Strategy and Process Improvement

You may also like our blogs on:
Business Improvement in Challenging Times
How to Ensure that L&D is the Foundation for a Successful Business
Is Employee Turnover Contributing to Skills Shortages?

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