Scaling with soul: AptumX for growing companies

It’s probably the biggest threat to small, successful companies: how do we retain what is special about us as we grow? The entrepreneurial culture, the connection between people, the ability to operate with a minimum of formal processes, visibility of what is going on, closeness to the customer, little or no hierarchy? As it is often described, how do we scale without losing our soul?

Anyone who has been through it knows that the answer is not to do nothing. You cannot assume that the personal connections, the sense of loyalty and alignment, the triumph of goodwill and hard work over whatever adversity threatens will all prevail indefinitely. Some kind of formalisation is essential and unavoidable. But what shape the formalisation takes is a different question. The way in which structure is established, the creation of hierarchies, the implementation of corporate systems, the gradual loss of personal connection: none of these are inevitable, not by a long chalk.

At AptumX we believe - and we’ve got the scars to entitle us to our view - that it is possible not only to maintain but to strengthen the characteristics that shaped the culture in the early stages of growth. And you do this by creating rigour and discipline where it’s needed, so that you can foster creativity and innovation where they’ll make the difference. Counter-intuitive though it may seem, you start not with people and culture but with processes and technology. Why do we say this?

Ask a business owner who has led the growth of their company, successfully or otherwise, and the chances are that she or he will tell you that one of the most significant points on the growth journey was when they could no longer look at the business and see and understand what everyone was doing. The scale of the operation had begun to get too big for a single human to comprehend. It had become time-consuming to try to keep abreast of what was going on in the business. Eventually they had concluded they were fighting a losing battle.

This is the point at which many owners and management teams think of investing in a software system to extend their control over the business. While most organisations will already have had exposure to basic software packages, typically accounting and invoicing, they will now be looking at an integrated organisation-wide software product - an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package. These come in many styles and sizes.

While there are ERP products styled for specific industries the market is dominated by vendors who aim to cover the widest industry range possible by providing a huge selection of features. This is problematic for young companies. Plenty of features means complexity and the product may still not offer what is required. In fact, this shouldn’t actually be a surprise. How many companies want their ‘unique’ innovations to be available to others?

What’s more, notwithstanding the problems of having to conform to a one-size-fits-all software package, size is an issue. Buy a ‘small’ company product and at some point it will be outgrown, setting the scene for a challenging transition.

But perhaps the biggest limitation of a fixed function ERP package is the inability to change. Vendors may provide new features at various intervals, but particularly for young thrusting organisations, the need to respond quickly to market situations can make the difference between success and just being part of the pack, and ERP is not built for rapid change.

No ERP system provides a digital replica of the business to give executives and managers visibility of their end-to-end processes, to see where they are working well and where they are going awry, to identify where they can simplify and improve, and ultimately, to enable the automation of their workflows to grow productivity.

These factors are the difference between even the best ERP system and the AptumX Digital Twin of business. There can be no better time to create a digital model of the business with which to oversee the best growth strategies than at that inflection point at which the need to systematise visibility becomes real.

Even if you have taken the plunge and invested in ERP, it isn’t too late to opt for greater flexibility and control. AptumX interconnects with ERP and other systems and will enable you to optimise the way in which you use and get value from your investment.

Unlike ERP the AptumX digital model is extensible and will last the life of the organisation no matter the direction it takes. This is easily proven in an initial project to create an end-to-end model of the business. It is not expensive and delivers immediate returns as well as a roadmap and business case for the implementation of future systems.

Why not contact us now to find out more? [email protected]

Retaining visibility and control with AptumX automation

When New Zealand clothing company FOB Direct used AptumX to automate its business, it achieved an 80% reduction in quote to cash cycle time and a tenfold increase in productivity. Owner and CEO Warren Bird listed the factors that led to these outcomes as:
  • Real-time management of contract margins
  • 100% visibility within the supply chain
  • Improved accuracy of information
  • Ability to manage by exception
  • Business control ‘on time and in the right order’
  • Easy to implement and use, and very quick to change.

“The software is really easy to change - in a matter of hours or days rather than months with other software, and users love the way it works.”