How to avoid growing pains as a high growth organisation

By Helen Sutton of DocuSign

 Managing a rapidly expanding global team is one of the key challenges that is suddenly thrust upon high growth organisations. It is also a very familiar one for me - DocuSign’s user base currently covers 185 countries, and an important aspect of my role is focused around driving this expansion further by managing a team across EMEA.

It stands to reason that as your business grows, the number of employees in your team will increase at pace and with this will come new considerations for management. The team will also become more geographically diverse, as building and maintaining an international client base involves conducting more business in the field and delivering a truly local service for customers.

Whilst expansion is an almost universal goal for business, it is also a process that must be negotiated carefully to avoid potential pitfalls. With teams working across different regions and time zones, it is easy to fall into the trap of disjointed communication and delayed processes can easily become the norm.

In addition, entering new markets means increased competition, so the ability to get business done as quickly as possible is essential. And last but by no means least, don’t forget your customers – expectations in terms of convenience and simplicity are higher than ever before, so you must be able to deliver this wherever your business operates.

Adopting a digital approach is a sure way of preventing any of these issues from thwarting your expansion plans:

Stay direct with digital

When it comes to staying connected, the merits of digital tools are difficult to exaggerate. From instant messaging platforms such as Salesforce Chatter to cloud-based diaries such as Outlook Calendar, I have never found it easier to communicate and work with our global team. However, as soon as legacy systems are introduced into the equation, processes slow down or even grind to a halt.

As a result, deciding which legacy processes to streamline and replace is one of the most important aspects of an expansion strategy. Scaling up also requires cutting down, so be sure to remove the roadblocks that are causing problems for your team. For instance, a key challenge that sales professionals often face is completing the sales cycle whilst on the move.

This is closely related to the issue of delays. A customer may be primed to complete a deal following an impressive pitch, but the impetus may be lost if it is not possible to do so immediately. This is where we at DocuSign have seen eSignatures and digital transaction management make such a difference to businesses, allowing sales agreements to be fully executed online, in an instant.

Integrate your operations

Remember, smoothing the process of expansion is not just about reducing the amount of time processes take, but also the number there are to complete. Digital is once again invaluable here; as an example making use of cloud tools allows the disconnect between signing a contract and making a payment to be removed. Turning this into part of the same process prevents common issues such as late payments from becoming an issue, even when operating at scale.

The golden rule for introducing digital into your growing business is identifying the weakest link in your operational chain, and introducing the particular tool that will bring it up to speed. Keeping operations focused as you grow is essential and choosing the right technology to facilitate this will be pivotal to any business’ success.  Whilst your expanding business may become more distanced geographically, this should not prevent you from developing a tighter-knit unit than ever.

Helen Sutton will be speaking about Global Expansion Strategies at the Global Expansion Summit in 2017.