Darren De Villiers

Member Article

Time to consolidate: simplifying IT workflows

Darron Walton, managing director of the SAP consulting specialist, De Villiers Walton, explains how implementing an all-in-one software solution can eliminate difficult disparate business systems, in turn maximising business growth and value

Many professional services companies are seeing market conditions stabilise as an increase of mergers and acquisitions escalates workloads and fee income. According to the recent Markit/CIPS UK services PMI poll, in January, service companies enjoyed their strongest growth in activity for almost a year.

In the current competitive climate, SMEs need to make the most of every opportunity. Yet, once a business gets to a certain size, it can be hard to keep track of what is happening across all business operations, particularly as many firms use separate management tools for various processes.

One solution can be to introduce an all-in-one business management application that will simplify electronic workflows across the entire business, in turn reducing operational costs, enhancing customer relationships and improving productivity – vital to maximising business growth and value.

Challenging disparate workflows

The professional services sector in particular tends to use a multitude of disparate IT systems. Whether it is the sales teams selling services, HR searching for skilled workers or the accounts team processing invoices and billing, each department often has independent business processes, making it difficult to get a transparent view of the company.

Working in this manner can be problematic. For example, with no central track record of communications or any business alignment, three or four members of the same sales team may contact the same client, on the same day – damaging a company’s reputation and reducing the likelihood of repeat business.

With no system integration staff have to duplicate information across various workflows. When filing a time and expense sheet, data often has to be manually re-entered into a finance system to process the corresponding invoices. Functioning in this manner is slow, not only is the data more likely to be affected by human error, but cash is also prevented from seamlessly flowing in or out of a company, in turn stalling contracts and affecting customer satisfaction.

Time to consolidate

Implementing an all-in-one software business management solution can prove to be a compelling option. The latest SME cloud-based solutions for instance, can integrate best-practice work streams across a range of services, including finance, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service and supply chain management. Rolling all these functions together, it becomes possible to eliminate difficult independent systems.

By consolidating all business processes, managers gain a transparent view across all operations. As a result, they can ensure that across the business, teams are working together effectively, which reduces operational costs and increases productivity. Working in this manner it is less likely that sales team would contact the same lead twice.

The ability to track and monitor progress ensures a consistent level of customer service. For example, when a sales person leaves, a new employee can simply pick up where they left off as all sales leads and communication details will be stored and logged.

By tracking the number of sales leads that turn into actual sales, growing SMEs can also add business value. Prospective buyers often require a breakdown of these details before a sale, using a specialist all-in-one IT business management, which can be retrieved at the click of a button.

Working with the most up-to-date information, it becomes easier to deliver high-quality accurate projects, while the ability to make real-time alterations to workflows eases profit and loss management, in turn increasing the percentage of on-time, on-budget projects completed and increasing revenue.

Electronically integrating all business processes reduces human error as data will only have to be entered into the integrated system once. In addition, increased productivity improves the turnaround of services, in turn enhancing the customer experience, so there is more chance of repeat business.

Affordable cloud-based solutions can also be easily and cost-effectively scaled in-line with business growth, with no need to spend on IT infrastructure, hardware, on-going upgrades or support staff. Similarly, with one fixed-rate monthly fee it makes it easier for SMEs to budget.

Business-wide benefits

The widespread benefits of implementing one centralised business management solution will undoubtedly be felt across the business. By eliminating inefficient processes, SMEs can dramatically reduce operational costs, enhance customer relationships and improve productivity.

When the solution is implemented at the very start of a new company, or when growth is expected, streamlined best-practice workflows will ease the burden of increasing client workloads, so maximising business growth and value.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Darren De Villiers .

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