Outdoor guides are constantly documenting and sharing information, but still, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) sounds like a training topic for a different industry.
And it was. ERP tools were originally created to help manufacturing companies better manage supply chains. However, the concept of a more efficient workflow applies across the spectrum. Those guides and outfitters that begin to think of how they document and share everything from trail conditions to payroll as an information supply chain, and seek to eliminate inefficiencies wherever they exist, will be better because of it. Not only will they spend more time and focus doing what they love, but they will be more professional and prepared as well. After all, nobody got into guiding for the paperwork.
In the guide world, Enterprise Resource Planning begins with a full accounting of all the different websites, apps, emails, forms, spreadsheets, phone calls, and texts a guide may go through in the course of a standard day at work. Carefully assess how you use the information collected, and what is involved with collecting it.
The assessment stage is about distinguishing between what needs to be collected, and what needs to be shared.
How does that piece of information enable you to do a better job? Who else in your operation needs to know that information? There is a lot of information relative to conditions, clients, and employees that needs to be tracked, and it can easily become information overload.
When bombarded with too much information, or having to re-trace so many different steps to save something, we become distracted by the process and no longer focused on our end goal. If our end goal is to communicate important information, then it should be concerning when the task of actually communicating that message dominates our focus.
Here is where we must separate the business of being a guide, with the business of a being a business.
Large organizations need Enterprise Resource Planning to manage their massive volume of documentation, but we need it at a small-scale in the guide world because it is rarely one of our core competencies — it is boring, and what we do is fun. Even worse, it’s commonly understood that poor planning and miscommunications are often root causes of fatal accidents.
Effectively bringing ERP concepts into the guide world means actively working to improve the process of documenting and sharing information. It isn’t just about saving time. It’s about improving as an organization. As we become more efficient in HOW we communicate we also become more purposeful in WHAT we communicate. That change in focus – from how to what – is why these manufacturing and supply chain concepts will make us better guides and outfitters.