It even strikes on the best websites: Broken Backend Syndrome. The customer-facing part of the website is fine, maybe even beautiful, but once you log into the admin panel, it’s nothing but a huge mess. Order fulfillment isn’t easy to implement. Accounting drops balls… or worse, invoices. And customers? It doesn’t take them long to figure out that your website is writing checks the backend can’t cash, and they bounce.
We refuse to stand by and let more websites suffer from this, so let’s go over the three most common signs of a broken backend -- and build a plan for a better backend as we go.
A growing company is great news -- but if that company’s backend isn’t scaling and growing alongside the company, that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s also a problem that will get exponentially worse as the company grows, because everyone’s now busy with all the tasks that come up due to growth. We see it all the time: business owners know there’s a problem, but promise themselves and their teams they’ll fix it all later… but later never comes. There’s always something else coming up that takes priority. And before you know it, you’ve outgrown those systems entirely.
So what’s the fix? You need to set aside time to review your backend systems periodically. Talk to your team: What’s working? What’s not working? Are the tools they’re using still doing what they’re expected, or has uploading your 501st product caused your inventory management system to throw a giant fit because it was only built to handle 500 items? Set a regular time interval to check in and weed out your old or outdated tools, and when you replace them, look for systems that combine functionalities, using less to do more. (One quick note -- you also want to have a look at how your systems are configured; this is less about “shiny new tool” and more about letting your needs drive what you use. It’s entirely possible that you already use a tool that can handle what you need, but that it wasn’t configured to do so; fix that, and you’ll turn a lot around already!)
Website backends used to be incredibly complex. Thank goodness we live in 2021, where user-friendly admin panels are standard. Sadly, some websites, and some teams, are still dealing with old-style, complicated systems. You might be thinking, “It’s old, but we know how to use it, so what’s the issue?” The issue is that you’re the only ones who do, so training new staff is going to take longer. And it’s even more likely that most of you only sort of know how, and that it’s only fully known to one person in the organization -- who, as a result, hasn’t been able to take a vacation since 2003.
Okay, what’s the fix? Integration is the key word here. When you periodically review your backend system for outdated or broken tools, select strategic replacements. Look for solutions that will work well together, reducing the need for your team to master five products when they could just be using one product that will intelligently sync with the other four. Most modern tools are built to be extremely user friendly, with active tech support across multiple channels. Choose wisely. Vacations depend on you.
Or worse, several spreadsheets. We know that some of you are mad right now because you love Excel -- but stop typing those angry emails, because this is probably the number one sign that your backend needs help. Look, spreadsheets are a very useful tool; we’re not out here advocating for the abandonment of every spreadsheet, everywhere. We promise you’ll still be able to impress people at cocktail parties with your knowledge of pivot tables, if that was happening for you. But spreadsheets are just not the right tools for your backend, and if you are using them, you need to quit -- they’re too manual, and they’re nowhere near smart enough to handle everything you’re asking from them.
What’s the fix? Make a backup and lay your old spreadsheets to rest with honors somewhere safe. Import that data into one of your smartly-selected tools and move forward into the twenty-first century. But that’s not all -- let’s get proactive and optimize!
You see, now that your backend is back where it belongs, you can take steps towards making your business even better; this time, with your backend helping you, not hindering you. When you do your backend check-ins, look for reports that you can pull from the tools you’ve selected. These reports contain valuable data that, if properly analyzed, will let you make strong, data-driven decisions for your future. (And yes, some reports do come in spreadsheet form.)
We know that fixing a broken backend system is a tough challenge… but we believe in you. Whether you’re looking to reconfigure your backend tools, or replace them with smarter, better solutions that will scale alongside your business, the right solution exists for you. If you do take a look around your backend and realize that it’s way too big a job for one person, or you get started and realize that you’re just not sure what kind of solutions you would even need, that’s the exact right time to contact us -- hit the chat button at the bottom right and let’s talk!