Dedupe Your Processes

The phrase “dedupe your processes” was created at a board meeting I was at last week. If you know our portfolio, you probably can figure out which board meeting it was based on the use of the word dedupe.

It was part of a conversation where the goal of “Simplify Simplify Simplify”, which had been turned into “Simplify Simplify Simplify“, was finally listed as “Simplify”.

It sounds so obvious. But it’s so fucking hard.

If you disagree, do a quick reality check. Focus first on “within your company” when you answer the following questions.

Within your company, do you use more than one of:

  1. Google Drive, Dropbox, Box
  2. Skype, Hangouts, Bluejeans
  3. Asana, Trello, Basecamp
  4. Slack, iMessage, SMS
  5. Word, Google Docs

Those are the easy ones. Let’s keep going. Make a list of every SaaS-based license you have. If you don’t know what this list is, ask your VP Finance. If you outsource your accounting, hire a VP Finance. Now, consider how many different overlapping things you are using.

When you are tiny, it’s fun to experiment around with different things. When you get a little bigger, say 20 people, it’s natural to have multiple systems introduced as you try to optimize things, hire new people who are used to what they used at their previous company, or just get frustrated with what matters and distract yourself with something that doesn’t matter.

As you interact with more people outside of your company, you’ll add systems (and processes) to try to accommodate them. If you want to see an extreme example of this, just take a look at my computer and the number of apps and logins I have.

You will reach a point in your company’s life – typically around 50 people – where you realize you are wasting 20% of your collective time on overlapping systems, inefficient processes, redoing work because someone decided to build a database in Excel that doesn’t link to anything, or scrambling to pull together information that should be immediately available to everyone.

This is the point at which you should dedupe your processes. If you have a good CFO, she’s the one to lead the charge. CEOs should never do this as almost all CEOs I know are part of the problem either by holding on tightly to old processes or randomly trying new things all the time with the elusive goal of continuous improvement.

“Simplify Simplify Simplify”, then “Simplify Simplify Simplify“, and finally “Simplify”.


Also published on Medium.