The secret of scalability for startups

ronnie_altitRonnie Altit returns with inisghts into how his young business is scaling its services with repeatable processes and lots of documentation.

Well.. it has been a long time since between blogs and the last topic I chose left the question about the keys to scalability and sustainability. These two words spell the longevity a business will have. Without them a business is doomed – particularly a services based organisation.

I find myself in an interesting position when writing this blog from the perspective that Insentra is but a young business – how can I be credible when discussing the keys to what are really longer term items without having experienced them in my own business?  Perhaps I can’t be credible in terms of Insentra however I have had previous experiences in building sustainability and scalability in organisations. That said, doing it when it is truly “yours” brings with it a focus like no other and I do believe we have built (and will continue to build) these two premises into our business.

To my mind, scale is not about how much you can sell. It is positively correlated with efficiency. The greater the efficiency in a business the faster things happen for clients and, importantly, costs can be kept down thus contributing to a better buy price for the customer and a higher profit margin for the seller. I thought I would share one example of how we have sought to build scalability into Insentra and what we have learnt and done since.

At the very heart of a services business is intellectual property and its effective usage and re-usage the latter being a golden key to the scalability treasure chest. When starting Insentra the development, control and repeatability of our IP was, and remains, front of mind. It makes no sense to write every proposal from scratch without pre-defined templates, particularly in our case where we do services for over 100 different types of engagements! More importantly, it is these templates that allow us to have a degree of control over the quality and consistency of our work.

So we started the business by ensuring all documentation (proposals, designs and the like) were based on a core template format, stored centrally on a document sharing server and we implemented a policy whereby documents were not to be emailed internally – links to the portal only!  As new documents were created they followed the same template. Great idea… they looked the same….they were standardised. BUT…. what ended up happening was that the last document that was completed became the template for the next one. Makes sense right? The issue that arose was that we may have made a change to a generic part of a proposal (like assumptions) for one service but that change was not reflected across all the templates. Clearly not scalable to change all templates every time something standard is changed. Enter automated document creation. So now what we have is a document generation system that pulls data from ONE standard source. Make a change once and we can be sure that it is reflected in every document – NOW we are scalable – at least on that front!

We have addressed a number of key business objectives in our journey to make ourselves more scalable. We have established a replicable process with appropriate systems, eliminated dependency on any one key individual, ensured quality of deliverables and set ourselves up with a system that will help us be sustainable.  How do we plan to stay sustainable? A large question.. one that deserves its own post me thinks… until next time…

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