Silos Kill Business

Silos Kill Business

Silos and paraprofessional competence/utilization are two of the biggest problems undermining our industry. In this Premium Post let’s look at silos and how they’re killing your business.

The Oxford Dictionary defines silos as follows:

noun (plural silos)

  • a system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others:it’s vital that team members step out of their silos and start working together[as modifier]:we have made significant strides in breaking down that silo mentality...

verb (siloes, siloing, siloed)

  • isolate (one system, process, department, etc.) from others...

I define silos this way:

  • Silos, in all forms and sources, are the crippling disconnections killing your business.

We often think of silos as isolated departments within an organization, but this really only the tip of the iceberg. Certainly, your company silos are a problem to overcome, but I’d like to share with you other external silos that I believe are crippling our industry and businesses.

Surveying Silos

Silos are such a big stumbling block in my life now that it’s the main reason I’m sometimes down on land surveying. To be clear, I love land surveying! But, I sometimes (more so lately) dislike the business of land surveying immensely. The reason being, is that there are so many roadblocks thrown at us on daily basis which cost us money and add liability, too.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

  • Recorded deed/plat silos: This issue is really threefold. First, there isn’t nearly enough digital access to the recorded deeds and plats. Second, the digitization process, or lack thereof, even when a municipality does this, often creates more silos by not properly formatting (for our purposes, at least), indexing, or geo-referencing the files. Third, due to the age and constant handling of these documents, scanning and digitizing these records is so important, and yet is not often done.
  • Data silos: What I’m talking about here is our surveying data. While most, if not all, of our surveying data is in digital format, it is still siloed by manufacturers, equipment and software. Also, there is not standardized industry formats for most of the data we use.
  • Government report silos: Where I work, this varies widely by municipality. But for the most part, the cities, towns and state departments just are not putting their important documents and reports online. Just the other day, I was working on three projects that I needed different pieces of town information that should have been online, but wasn’t.

How do we solve these problems? In two words: leadership and vision. Maybe this is true everywhere and with everyone, but we always seem to choose expediency over proper investment and good sense. Plus, there are powerful silos in place reluctant to change. For instance, we’ve not changed how real property transactions are documented and carried out in hundreds of years! This creates silos of inefficient processes and formats.

As an industry, we need visionary leaders to take charge and tear down these silos, while providing guidance and insights about a better path forward. Imagine a better land records system that is more survey and data driven (think GIS). Imagine querying the public records online, download the relevant data and import it right into your surveying or GIS software.

The task of being leaders and visionaries in this regard is large enough and important enough for our industry groups to focus on. The question is, will they?

Business Silos

Silos are holding back many businesses. These silos can exist because of outdated business practices, office politics or manufactured fiefdoms. Sometime these silos independently function fairly well, but even when this occurs it’s at the expense of the rest of the company. Just last week I spoke with a business owner who openly admitted to me that the various silos in his business are holding the business back. We’re consulting with him to improve his company’s systems, procedures and data sharing and tearing down silos is the first step forward. When will you take the leap to improve your business?

The first step is to analyze your business working structure to find the department and other silos holding you back. Then, don’t do that anymore...No, seriously, you need to topple the silos, but do this next (in no particular order):

  • Improve your systems, procedures and processes.
  • Identify the best data you use, create, and deliver with an eye towards sharing and use by everyone in your organization.
  • As above, look at the software and equipment you are using and put in place the best software and equipment your business can afford. Also, regardless of your choices - existing or new - customize, optimize and leverage your software and equipment usage.
  • Create standards, templates and forms that help new workflows and processes.
  • Explain the vision and carry out training.

Silos kill business, so are you ready to tear them down and prosper? I hope your answer is yes, and if so, please let me know if my team and I can help you grow and improve your business.

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Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

Posted in Associate Membership, Business, Business Practices, Continuing Education, Geomatics, Land Surveying, Professional Land Surveyor Practice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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  1. […] week, I wrote a premium article called “Silos Kill Business“ about (surprise, surprise) how surveying and business silos undermine your success. What I […]