When Jury Duty Brings Your Business to a Standstill

Posted by Sarah Campagna on Tue, May 17, 2016

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A Lesson in the Value of Cross-Training

Could the absence of one key team member cause your sales or operations to grind to a stop?

Often the value of second stage tech companies is tied to subject matter expertise or relationships with a key sales person. In guiding these companies through the positioning process, we look to institutionalize their unique value proposition.

When we implement an inbound marketing strategy with new clients, we always take the time to talk through workflow processes. What happens when…

  • leads increase?
  • quoting increases?
  • production demands increase?
  • quality requirements increase?

Both company positioning and marketing strategy have real business ramifications, especially if delivering on your brand promise strains one key resource.

Sometimes these conversations result in reallocation of responsibilities or a simple division of labor to spread additional work across multiple employees. But sometimes they lead to a very dangerous discoverythat there is one particular skillset that only one team member possesses. When this happens, we call it the "jury duty problem." (We’ve heard it called the "hit by a bus problem," but we like to remain a little less fatalistic in our office.)

It is seldom a good idea to have only one subject matter expert in your company. Redundancy, especially in manufacturing, is critical to maintaining workflow and output.

Company value tied to one person is not scalable.

In our own office, we have created redundancy in all of our necessary skillsets. Being a relatively small niche firm, it is crucial that we both hire and train to maintain this promise. When our clients need something, we have to be able to turn it around quickly. Whether it is Google Analytics and AdWords capability, HubSpot COS web building skills, graphic design, content writing or even patent writing, our staff has been designed with enough overlap that a jury duty summons doesn’t stop the clock on critical projects.

Need to overcome the jury duty problem? Consider implementing one or more of the steps we’ve taken:

  • Daily huddle: Make sure every member of the team knows the status and priority of client projects.
  • Task or project board: Software such as Trello provides better process control.
  • Centralized & standardized customer assets: Secure access to customer files by anyone on the team, at any time.
  • CRM: We like HubSpot's.
  • Documentation of core processes: Check out Novatek's tips for developing effective standard operating procedures.
  • Dual content creation: Two designers bring better, more diverse concepts to projects, as do two writers. The debate this inspires offers the client a more thought-out perspective.

Looking for a more robust perspective on your growth? Request a consult.

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Topics: Business Insights