Updated: May 25
"Strategy" comes from the Greek word for “office or command of a general” and, like many business terms in common use today, had a military origin.
Sometimes business feels a bit like that, but an effective strategy doesn’t have to be complex or large scale, and often the smallest decisions can have the biggest impact – particularly so with digital.
Recently I became the leader of a small volunteer group of just eight people. It’s quite a diverse team, and unlike in a business situation, we have no unifying system that we all use.
Whenever we spend money, we have to get the explicit approval of a majority of the group and make sure a record of those approvals is kept.
The previous situation was that the leader would circulate invoices for approval via email. The problem was everyone has a busy life outside of the group, and responses were getting lost in the email traffic. That in turn meant that repeat requests were common and, because members would often use Reply All, the process was making the email traffic even worse.
It was really tempting to choose one of the many payment approval systems available online; however that’s overkill for a relatively small group. There’s an overhead in setting up and maintaining a system, and there’s a real issue with different levels of skill in the user group.
What we decided to do instead was a lot simpler. Everyone is comfortable using email so we set up a file location in the Cloud where anyone can upload an invoice requiring approval. This triggers a workflow which automatically emails each member individually with an invitation to approve or decline. When a majority have voted to approve, the item is automatically forwarded for payment.
The cost of setting this up was trivial, essentially an hour or so of my time to configure the setup. My reward is saving at least an hour per week of my time chasing approvals, getting confirmations, responding to overdue payment requests and so on.
Finding a way to eliminate all the time-wasting parts of your daily activity can be a really good strategy. It’s agile, it gets you immediate results and it frees up time so you can focus on the important things.
There were lots of other ways we could have done the same thing or something similar, the key decisions were deciding what we wanted to do (save time) and what we didn’t want to do (spend money).
That’s why we created MyCIO Starter. It helps you get started, shows you the real benefit of our approach and doesn’t cost the earth.
Ray Delany is the Founder of CIO Studio, a company built to partner with SMEs and help them solve the “strategy” problem and align their digital investment with their business outcomes.
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