Does your software system drive your business? Or do you find yourself frustrated with your current solution? Perhaps it’s overly complex and needs to be simplified. Complexity within a system makes it more difficult to perform actions which can lead to delayed results and loss of profits. Below, we’ve listed five common symptoms of an overly complex system and how to treat them!
Employees or Customers are disgruntled and frustrated
Are your employees frustrated with how difficult it is to do their jobs? Are your customers disgruntled after interacting with your software? The number one indicator of complexity within a software system is expressed frustration by those who use it. Complex ideas are hard to translate into user friendly experiences, and if you don’t get it right, the result can hurt your business.
Solution: Take the time to listen and create a space for feedback. The first step towards alleviating employee or customer frustration is understanding what they’re frustrated about and why. When creating new software solutions, invite power users and those with expertise to be involved in testing and feedback sessions. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can listen, understand, and desire to create a better experience which ultimately leads to better outcomes for your business.
Tasks take longer than expected and keep piling up
Do your employees do the same task over and over? Is their work piling up? Does hiring more people still not make things go faster? You may have a complexity problem within your system. Repetitive tasks are all about efficiency. If a system is complex, it can become highly inefficient, and work can start really piling up.
Solution: When work starts piling up, it’s time to dig into your process and dissect what’s really going on. Use diagrams to map out the process from start to finish. Identify actions, decision points, and dependencies that are time consuming. Focus on making information readily available when needed to help speed up decision making and organize the process into clear steps to create a flow. If the process is too complex to diagram, you may need help understanding where to start.
Training new employees feels impossible
How efficiently you can train new employees or customers says a lot about the complexity of your system. If you find yourself struggling to train new employees or customers, it’s time to really figure out why. The answer may be your solution is overly complex and needs to be simplified. A complex system can be broken down into a solution that is not just easy to use, but also easy to train, easy to document, and easy to scale.
Solution: Training starts with having a well-established and well-documented process that can be repeated and easily understood by everyone. If your process is too complex to document, then it’s most likely too complex to train. It’s time to start taking steps to simplify it. If your process is already well established and efficient, then consider investing in documentation as a training tool. A well-documented system gives users of that system a reference to guide their decision making and keeps them efficient.
Outcomes are inconsistent, unpredictable, and hard to measure
Do you struggle to measure success within your system? Is it hard to plan ahead because results seem unpredictable? This is a sign your system might be too complex. Measuring the success of a system starts and ends with data. In order to measure something, you must first have data points to analyze. Complex systems often have too many data points or the wrong data points, which makes it really difficult to produce any meaningful analytics.
Solution: Establish clear key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used to measure the success of your system. Ensure the system collects or tracks the necessary data to ultimately produce KPIs. If your system has too many data points or the wrong data points, establish a plan to simplify your system to provide focus on which data points matter. Sometimes it takes the help of a data expert to analyze your system to identify where to start.
Managers are reactive rather than proactive
Do your managers spend the majority of their time reacting to problems and questions around them, or do they spend most of their time planning for the future? If your managers are constantly bogged down and reacting to problems around them, that’s an indicator your system is too complex and requires too much oversight. When a manager’s sole job is problem solving, you need to ask yourself: why do you have so many problems to solve?
Solution: Develop a strategy to understand the root cause of the problems within your system that require constant management. Implement a plan to gather data that produces insights on the source of each problem so that patterns can emerge and be reported on. Use the gathered insights to simplify complexities within your system. Give your managers the ability to document and track the problems they react to and train them to identify root causes based on data insights.
Your software system was meant to make tasks smoother, use data effectively, and spur long-term growth. Without proper maintenance and a carefully structured system, there is a high risk that the software will become too complicated, nearly impossible to sustain. Using our solutions above, regain control of your software system, and discover benefits that were always promised you.