Companies, particularly small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), risk falling behind, losing money or doing damage to their business if they don’t improve or evaluate their business processes. However, one of the biggest issues SMEs face is accessing accurate and consolidated data/information to properly evaluate these processes and procedures.
The problem is that many SMEs are set in their ways by working off multiple systems or spreadsheets with different people in the organisation sitting with different pieces of the puzzle. Putting it all together can be close to impossible.
Without accurate and continuous evaluation, there is no way a company can know if their product or service is up to scratch. If there is no evaluation there is also no way to know if there are any inefficiencies.
These can cause a range of issues from low staff moral and manual errors through to duplicate efforts and inaccurate pricing and margins. If a company is continuously evaluating its processes with accurate and up-to-date information then they are better equipped to adapt to change, experience higher profit margins and provide a better customer experience.
This is what SME’s and other businesses should do to ensure all departments have access to accurate data to provide the best possible customer service:
- Evaluate processes on a regular basis: Some processes are a lot more susceptible to breaking, but the most important thing is that all these processes are running off a single, integrated platform. SMEs should, at the bare minimum, be doing annual business plan reviews which include system and processes. This can be reviewed halfway through the year to make sure everyone knows what is happening. Quarterly reviews are advisable for seasonal and trending businesses that need to quickly adapt to market changes.
- Evaluate tools: Business planning and reviewing should always include a topic of discussion for systems and tools. There is no point having completely streamlined processes, but the tools being used are inefficient or incompatible with the strategy. Processes and tools need to go hand-in-hand and complement one another.
- Establish and follow a proper business plan: A business plan is one of the best ways to evaluate processes as it is not limited to processes, but can also include tools, departments, and strategic business information to create a bigger picture for company processes.
- Make use of an integrated business management platform: This will help to ensure that all information is centralised, up-to-date and visible across multiple departments for accurate and informed evaluations.
In an age where there’s a need for continuous improvement through technology, companies cannot afford to leave out one of the above steps. Customers can now vote with their feet and with competition so fierce; and technology making it possible for customers to source stock from virtually anywhere in the world, moving over to a rival company that offers a better service is easy.
One of the biggest obstacles departments face is access to accurate data from another department. An example is someone in sales might need to check stock in the warehouse to place an order, but if the information is not integrated and synchronised the sales person has no idea of what stock is on hand – possibly losing a client.
The only viable way to ensure that inter-departmental efficiencies become a reality is to use an integrated business management system, or enterprise resource planning (ERP). Business planning and reviewing needs to go hand in hand with real-time information gathered from the ERP system. This will ensure accurate and informed decisions can be made regarding updating and streamlining business processes. If companies get on top of this they’ll be better equipped to fend off the competition, reduce the likelihood of errors and retain customers to ensure profitability.