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Prevention of Growing Pains

Company Growth Chart Being Supported

The previous blog spoke of growth and acquisitions. This blog expands upon the topic of growth and what it means for us and our clients.

Last month was our best month ever for the amount of shipped products to our clients. Obviously, that is a good thing. It occurred, not because of any COVID related uptick in sales, but rather despite it. Our organization has adapted well, and everyone involved is working at a high level of productivity. I am grateful to our clients and staff for enabling us to navigate these difficult times.

Organizations that do not grow often stagnate and wither. Growth enables us to add value for our clients and ourselves. Growth is essential, but it also comes with costs. Unless an organization is prepared for growth, it can spell disaster. We have built our reputation over 30 years and we are aware that it can be seriously damaged with a single careless mistake.

Growth means more opportunities. More orders mean more staff, more projects, more shipments, etc. More of everything also increases the potential for errors. In our business, and many others, even a small error is unacceptable. Our business depends upon making research faster, easier, and more reliable. Being too busy to accomplish this goes against these goals. How do we deal with and ideally prevent potential growing pains?

Although this is clearly an oversimplification, it distills down to two words: people and processes. Several of our blogs have discussed these two key factors. We spend a great amount of time in finding the right people. All candidates participate in an extensive and rigorous process, which includes multiple interviews, testing, and background checks. After someone joins ABS, there is a lengthy period of training and evaluation before they interact with clients or work on client projects. Much of this involves learning our processes.

Having a conscientious, hardworking, and dedicated staff is essential, but it is still not enough. All of us must work together in a smoothly integrated manner or the results will not be consistent and reliable. Flexibility is essential but cutting corners or unilaterally changing processes can lead to unnecessary mistakes and in the end more work for everyone. Most importantly, it could potentially disappoint clients. Therefore, processes and process metrics are of critical importance in mitigating potential growing pains that might affect our clients.

ABS is a process driven organization with the end goal of client satisfaction. Many years ago, ABS became ISO9001 certified. The goal of these quality standards is to develop and apply processes that enable client satisfaction. This was the primary reason for their implementation by ABS. The regular auditing of our processes ensures that we continue to meet these standards. These standards and related processes are also essential to enable our continued growth.

Having standardized processes means that our operations are scalable. Standardized processes permit operations to grow reliably without loss of quality. In our laboratories, work is transferred between trained staff without any loss of reproducibility. Similarly, the hand-offs from business development teams, to client services, to production, and then to shipping works smoothly without errors or unnecessary backtracking. This translates to fewer delays overall.

The foregoing is not to say that everything always works perfectly. For example, a perfect balance between workloads and staffing as we grow may not always be possible. Our team goes the extra mile to assist your operations. Following agreed upon processes means that unnecessary miles are not added to everyone’s workload.

Having great processes and great people is still not enough. Appropriate metrics to continuously monitor progress and point to areas in need of improvement is a crucial component in managing progress. A skilled driver, in a finely tuned high performance car, will still run into problems without a gas gauge or speedometer. Appropriate metrics make sure that we remain on track and point to areas where improvements should be made. This ensures quality and benefits everyone with fewer errors and rework.

Your work is ours. The preparations that we thoughtfully implement for growth should continue make your research faster, easier, and more reliable. You can count on everyone at ABS to do their best so that our challenges do not become yours. You can count on us to continue to keep you informed because ABS is an extension of your laboratories.

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