Navigating planned and unplanned business growth

John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” It could be said that in business, unplanned growth is what happens while you are busy planning for growth. In fact, new research reveals that unplanned growth is a common yet serious issue for many organizations. A global survey recently conducted by MORAR Consulting showed that only 11% of those who had experienced growth in 2015 said that this growth had gone totally according to plan. This means that 89% had experienced growth that did not go totally according to plan.

At first, unplanned growth may sound like a good problem to have—after all, growth is what most businesses are aiming for. However, as a result of surges or spikes in demand, unplanned growth can become detrimental when it surprises organizations with challenges they simply aren’t prepared for or properly resourced to handle. Overwhelmed operations, poor product quality, slowed service, staff burnout, and damaged customer service—these challenges and more can severely cripple a business and even cause it to fail.

So let’s explore what you can do to prepare for and navigate such unplanned growth.

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While you need to prepare for growth, the growth you experience might not be entirely what you expect. In order to manage the complexity and unpredictability of growth, you need to have a flexible approach and be ready to change plans and processes quickly. This means that your IT systems that support those processes need to be agile and easily scalable in order to facilitate the changes that occur.

“Many organizations have global go-to-market strategies but struggle with legacy business platforms that are unable to scale to meet the needs of this planned growth,” explains Malcolm Fox, vice president, product marketing, Epicor. “Growth requires a highly extensible platform that can evolve to meet the unique needs and requirements of different markets, languages, currencies, etc., but which can be ‘rolled up’ to the parent organization to provide visibility of operations as a whole.”

Undoubtedly, when it comes to preparing for and navigating both planned and unplanned growth, the right technology platform and IT systems will become your greatest ally. Therefore, to support growth and better prepare for its challenges, 79 percent of businesses believe that an effective and integrated IT infrastructure is essential. According to Fox, the adoption of new technologies should position them to reap the benefits of newfound efficiencies and pave the way for growth.

Like life, business growth is an adventure that’s full of uncertainty. Fortunately, it’s an adventure you can intelligently prepare for and skillfully navigate. With the right technology at your side, you can execute on your growth plans while successfully handling the surprises of unplanned growth that are bound to happen.