Monday, November 13, 2006

How am I going to remember all of that?

Countless times during the years I ran my bus company I was required to remember the following:-

  • Dates for scheduled vehicle maintenance
  • Dates for contract renewals
  • Dates for submitting FDR forms
  • Meetings with council representatives, bank managers, employee appraisals
  • Dates for insurance renewals
  • and much more.
In the beginning I used a paper based diary. Then during the late 80's computerised the system with the use of basic spreadsheets. When Outlook came - I used that.

But all the time I was simply substituting a computer for a manual paper process. I still needed to "remember" stuff. I still needed to "process" stuff. And I invariably still forgot or mislaid stuff.

Computerization brought its own problems of course. I need to ensure I backed it up - which usually meant keeping multiple copies of it on floppy disk, zip disks and USB pens when they arrived - which in turn meant I had multiple copies of the data and would make changes which would reflect on the one being used by office staff etc..

Then I needed a computer "whizz kid" - who invariably knew more about my business than me - and meant I was beholden to them.

Then I worked out I was still a slave to the paperwork. I needed to work it otherwise it wouldn't get done the way I needed it to be done and customers would be let down or lost.

Computers need to work for the business. I was in the business of providing a service to customer, not doing paperwork after all.

My answer was to build a process based system. I needed a diary system which knew everything, where everything was in one place, where everyone in the business could see what was happening. So I built it.

TravelManager Calendar ScreenshotIt reminded me of important dates, when I needed to fill in the FDR forms, what meetings I had that day, week or month and what jobs my drivers were doing that day, week, moth.

I learnt a lot from running the business. But I learnt even more by building the systems which helped run the business. And more importantly I'm still learning.

My golden rules are:-

  • Make sure you implement a system
  • Make sure the system works for you and not you for the system
  • Make sure the system is easy to operate and report on
  • Make sure the system is available from anywhere you need to run your business
Running a business can be a uniquely rewarding opportunity. Make sure your doing what you enjoy and insist on putting in place things than minimise the stuff that you don't like doing.

Thanks

Mike
CEO & Founder
(www.travel-manager.co.uk)

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