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October 21, 2016

Business system integration for your industry

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Technology and software are changing the way your business works – and this change is happening at a rate of knots. So it’s never been more important to have the right software, systems, and process solutions in place to ensure you’re running your business efficiently.

Benchmarking your systems within your industry

In a world where cloud technology and automation offer so many business advantages, doing things the old way because ‘that’s how we’ve always done them’ can put you at a real disadvantage.

There’s a growing need to be aware of new technology within your own sector or industry and to integrate the most valuable tools into your wider systems.

The key is to think about business efficiencies and to benchmark yourself in your industry. Having a good understanding of the tools and solutions that can help you become more efficient is all part of the gradual evolution of your systems. Looking outside of your own business and seeing how other organisations work has real value – and can provide plenty of new knowledge and inspiration for change.

Using social media to increase your knowledge

Social media and online networking have made it so much easier to reach out and ask other business owners how they’ve achieved things.

The community aspect of social media has made people for more willing to share advice and give support – so get out there, talk to people and find out how other businesses are using the available technology. And make sure you share the love and pass this information on to your wider network too.

By using the online world proactively, you’ll find out about the latest software tools, you’ll link to the influential people in your sector and get to hear the success stories (and potential horror stories) of how these tools have worked in practice.

By listening to, and asking questions of, your peers, you can minimise your own integration problems and help create a system that’s up and running more quickly and with a greater level of effectiveness.

Be proactive about searching out new tools

Talking to your accountant or business advisers is another great way to expand your understanding of the software and systems that are out there.

Your advisers are likely to have clients in similar industries, business owners who you can meet, talk to and ask questions. And going along to local networking meetings of similar local business is another great way to find out recommendations and see how people have implemented the latest solutions into their own systems.

What’s important is to ask the right questions:

  • Which software worked well, and which tools should you avoid like the plague?
  • What was the buying experience like – are people getting real value?
  • How difficult was the implementation process, and were there any issues?
  • How long did the new system take to implement, and why?

Talking to the rest of your team is another way to refine your technology and system processes. Asking them what tools would make their working life easier or if there’s a team member doing something differently (and where that’s working well) all helps you to make step changes and move your systems forward.

Carry out an internal system audit

When was the last time you carried out an audit of your own systems?

If you’re looking to keep your business at the cutting edge, regular reviews of your software are an incredibly helpful way of pinpointing where change is needed. And it can be as simple as asking some probing questions that highlight the underlying issues and help you to evolve your processes.

  • How many systems do you have – and how are they integrated and connected?
  • Do they talk to each other well – and is there room for improvement in your integration?
  • Where is your data held – would a move to cloud storage make sense?
  • What’s the process for onboarding a new customer – and is it effective?
  • How does a new prospect contact you – and could your lead generation be better?
  • How effective is the system at present – and where are the big opportunities for bringing in efficiencies and taking things to the next level?

To get the best from your systems, it’s also crucial that your whole team is trained on the systems and has a consistent level of skill. Assigning a ‘system champion’ to be the gatekeeper of the systems will help ensure that processes are adhered to and everyone understands why processes are run the way they are.

Embrace the efficiencies of modern software

Technology has moved on in leaps and bounds in the past decade, and there’s a very valid business requirement for changing systems and keeping up with the solutions that could be adding value to you and your team.

  • Online banking – modern cloud accounting packages give you a live feed to your business bank accounts, keeping you totally up to speed with your balances and cash.
  • Faster payment – cardless technology, mobile card readers, and cloud-based Direct Debit solutions make it easier (and quicker) for customers to pay you.
  • Smart-scanning of paperwork – mobile apps can scan in receipts and invoices and automatically scan them into your finance software as data, saving you hours of data-entry time.
  • Automated credit control – your systems can do your chasing of late payments for you, sending out automated chaser emails to your bad debtors.

And that’s just a tiny fraction of the options that modern software has to offer. There are hundreds of solutions on the market, offering tools that are tailored to your industry or sector.

Create the system that works for your business

When you’re looking for systems for your business, the number one consideration has always got to be ‘What is this going to add for us?’

Think about the benefits that any new software acquisition is going to bring and set the expectation with your management as to how long it will take to implement into your business and for everyone to be up and running.

Fundamental core business systems can take up 12 months to ‘bed in’ and to start delivering real benefits to the business. So know where your business is at, and where it’s going, and what solutions are right for it at each stage of your growth.

In short, know where the benefits of a change outweigh sticking with the status quo.

At Inspira, we’ll help you make the right changes for your business and help you set up the right systems that work for you and ensure your business is working productively, efficiently and profitably.

What we bring is a fresh pair of eyes to look at how and what you’re doing. And with that objective perspective, we can challenge you, push you forward and ensure that you’re working the best way you possibly can.

Find out how Inspira help you to create a tailored software system that adds real benefits for your business.

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