When to Buy the ‘Shiny New Object’

We are only two days into the work week and a recurring conversation I am having with clients is around the ‘shiny new object’ syndrome.  It seems like folks get caught up in a chicken and the egg situation when it comes to buying new tools for their business. The thought goes something like this: If I just buy (insert shiny new amazing tool) my process will be better!  So, they buy the tool. Meanwhile next thing you know, they have an upset team because unbeknownst to them the new tool completely changed their process. A process they did not know was broken…sound familiar? Below I have documented two scenarios and some lessons learned.  Long story short – don’t jump to buy a tool until you know your process.  Now, let us dive in…

Case A

A client of mine recently purchased a new tool to manage projects for one of their clients. While using that tool for client purposes, the client realized the tool could be an asset for his team as well. Initially, I was asked to begin a project using the new tool. I spent a few hours researching and spinning a few things up to show proof of concept, but I struggled to finalize various aspects.  I soon began to realize that my struggle was from my attempt to create a workflow for them, based off a tool – and I had zero clue as to what their current workflow truly entailed.

Workflow…workflow…workflow

So, I stopped.  I immediately met with the COO.  He brought in a few key team members to join our discussion.  After much discussion it was apparent that before any tool could be useful, we must understand the problem we are trying to solve. We must understand the current touch points from everyone’s perspective.  We must understand the current life cycle of their customers and who does what.  Then once we understand our foundation, we can build an ideal process flow, and seek to find a tool to fit the needs, if applicable.  So, in the end, not only will their customer benefit from the newfound efficiencies and optimization, but their team will work to uphold the new workflow – because they created it.  With everyone’s best interest in mind. 

Case B

Last night I was on a Mastermind call and I was listening to one of the business owners talk about how they are at the tipping point of hiring new team members.  Additionally, they recently purchased a new tool for their business in hopes of streamlining current workflows. This intrigued me.  Especially since I was just two short hours removed from Case A.

My advice to her was simple, before you buy a shiny new object or onboard a new employee, write down your workflow. Start from how a client initially contacts you, through services rendered and client invoiced.  Who does each step and, if any, what tool/form/document is used? Next, and don’t forget this step…analyze your workflow.  Is it ideal?  What would you change?  How would XZY make your process better? How does this change your client experience? I highly recommend having a fresh set of eyes review your workflow, you never know what recommendations will come from someone that is not in the day-to-day operations of your specific business.

Lastly, while you are reviewing your workflow you should also gather customer feedback.  Reach out to a few customers and ask them specific questions about your workflow.  If you are changing something with your customers in mind, don’t you think they should have voice?

Lesson Learned – before you start to integrate a new tool – get all the appropriate team members in a room and truly understand your workflow. Everyone from Sales to IT, if they interact with your clients or each other throughout the process – they are a part of the workflow discovery.

As a side note – you will never hear me recommend a tool to streamline your workflow, only people can truly streamline a workflow. A tool should only be used to enhance workflows.

Do you need help writing out your workflow? Shoot me an email and let’s set up a call to discuss!

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