Company growth is a wonderful thing, and there’s no doubt it should be celebrated.
But I know from personal experience that with high-scale growth also comes with scalability challenges.
Often, we see businesses implement more and more complex structures as they scale – but there is never enough time to pause and question why this is happening, or the processes that govern this increasing complexity. As they expand, it becomes all too easy to get bogged down in work and lose sight of what really matters for customers and employees.
At ServiceNow, we’re in the midst of a period of scaling that’s set to continue throughout this year and beyond, and we want to avoid heading down the wrong path just as much as you do.
So, we’ve been working hard to make sure we’re scaling as effectively as possible, and as a result, learnt a lot along the way. Of these learnings, here’s what I’d advise to other businesses experiencing high-scale growth and looking to achieve success:
1 – Remember the customer always comes first
Growth is inevitable - Companies need to scale order to prosper and drive innovation.
However, if your internal structure becomes too complicated as it expands, or you allow yourself to become too wrapped up in it, it’s easy to forget the basics such as – are you delivering the best possible product or outcomes for your customer?
If you don’t fully understand who your customer is or what they need because you’re distracted by your own company’s growth, you risk losing the very thing that drives this growth in the first place.
What’s more, customers and markets change.
You might think that you’re on top of what drives your customer, but failure to keep up with their ever-changing needs, even for a short period of time, can have disastrous consequences.
From your customer’s perspective, it’s the equivalent of watching a play, and realising the actors on stage are more concerned with the props or backdrops than they are with their actual audience.
Whatever you’re offering - whether you’re in manufacturing, consumer goods or other - your customers are your audience, and their needs should be front of mind, no matter what.
2 – Automate where possible
Why is it small businesses can often be more agile than larger ones?
As businesses grow, they naturally become more complex, and lose more time to admin or complicated siloes – time that small businesses with simpler processes can spend on innovation, customer service, or product development.
To recover some of this time, growing businesses can (and should) turn to automation.
Automation platforms reduce the amount of time spent on administrative, manual tasks, freeing up valuable employee hours which can then be allocated elsewhere, on what really matters.
Equally, as organisations grow, the likelihood of finding yourself working with multiple teams in multiple siloes increases.
Again, it’s important to streamline and simplify where possible.
A custom-designed platform, that allows you to automate your data processes, and collate all your information in one place, with full visibility over everything going on at once can help you do this.
With this visibility, it becomes easier not just to identify problem areas, but to resolve them before they impact the customer experience, or waste vital resources.
So, the questions you should be asking yourself right now are: Can we streamline processes to allow our teams to be more flexible? Could any manual, time-consuming tasks be automated to allow employees to focus more on the customer? Are my teams becoming more siloed and less efficient as we evolve?
If the answer to just one of these questions is yes, consider what technology platforms need to be implemented in order to make that a reality as your company continues to grow.
3 - Maintain purpose and culture
Scaling without a clear purpose is like setting off on a journey without knowing where you’re going.
Without a clear goal to work towards, you can’t expect your employees or customers to understand where you’re heading, or how to help you get there.
It’s a recipe for confusion.
At ServiceNow, a key priority for us has been to ensure that everybody involved in our operations understands our culture, our goals for the future, and above all, our purpose.
We’re doing everything we can to maintain this as we grow, and our People Pact is a great example of this in action.
The People Pact is our company’s commitment to our employees, and our employees, leaders and colleagues’ commitment to one other. The actual commitment is simple: that everyone fuels our purpose together, lives their best life and does their best work. And the commitment is paying off, not least in the form of a recent Glassdoor award that recognises our employees’ commitment to one another.
At the end of the day, every fast-growth company is bound to go through its own growing pains, and some measure of increased complexity is par for the course. The key to effective scaling, in my view, is to ensure that you put your customer and employees at the heart of what you do whether this is sharing and aligning on a clear vision for the future or minimising internal complexity in the way work gets done. If you can get that right, you can be sure you’re growing in the right way – however fast you grow.
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