Sara Gonzalez Explains How To Digitise Your Business

Sara F Gonzalez

It appears that the world is becoming increasingly technologically saturated. It's truly falling out of the sky (watch out, rocket boosters).

Because we are surrounded by so much technology, it is easy to get desensitised to it. We can easily dismiss it as a "thing" that is always present, rather than devoting time and thought to figuring out how to best use it.

Technology can help you run your business more efficiently. In business, I like to argue that efficiency equals profitability. Oh, and you should know that I enjoy that.

I understand how intimidating it might be to embrace technology and digitise many elements of your Charlotte business. However, as you'll see in today's strategy note, it doesn't have to be as frightening as you would imagine.

Let's get rid of the paper...

Sara Gonzalez explains how to digitise your business.

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit..” – Harry S. Truman

The way we interact with technology has changed dramatically during the previous 30 years. Technology used to be largely associated with the future, but it now pervades many parts of our existence. Tech is everywhere, from how we communicate to how we make purchases to how our automobiles work, and so on.

While most large corporations have embraced all things digital, many small businesses in Charlotte have struggled to stay up. Does this ring a bell? As a small firm, it's simply more difficult to pick and select which technology to use - not to mention that some expenses end up eating up more of your cash.

I understand because our company faces the similar problem. We spend a lot of money on tax preparation software, accounting software, and tax planning software, all of which we have to train our employees on. However, we utilise them because they enable us to provide you with a better service.

What are your company's equivalents? What can you digitise to make your clients' lives easier? While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are certain broad topics to think about while turning digital.

Garbage Goes In, Garbage Goes Out (GIGO)

This is a concept about getting digital, not merely a famous computing phrase. To understand what you can digitise, think of your company as a collection of systems.

If you haven't yet taken the effort to set up systems in your company, this is where you should begin. You can look at which of those operations can be digitised after examining how your firm runs and designing processes to do things.

Sure, you can scan mail, invoices, contracts, and other documents to the cloud, but if you're used to throwing paperwork in a drawer and sorting it out afterwards, digitising everything might not be the best idea. However, once a system is in place, it becomes more about utility than organisation.

So, what does it mean to "digitise"?

For instance, it may imply going paperless in the workplace. This isn't only about being environmentally conscious; it's also about saving money and time. According to a Nucleus Research research, small firms that go paperless save more than $8 in costs for every $1 invested in digitalization. That quickly adds up.

According to other studies, paper poses a greater danger of data breach than digital data. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, paper documents account for approximately a third of all data breaches in large corporations.

Finally, according to research firm IDC, employees squander 21.3 percent of their time processing paper, resulting in a productivity loss of 21.3 percent. Because of the way paper obstructs workflows, that's virtually an entire day out of each work week that is wasted.

So, how do you get started with being paperless? To begin, think of the low-hanging fruit:

  • Begin sending customers invoices via email.
  • Instead of checks, use electronic financial transfers.
  • Within the office, use cloud-based document sharing services.
  • Replace the old time clock with software to set employee schedules.

Your industry and line of employment will determine where you go from there. If your company can function with a remote staff, you can become a virtual operation and communicate and manage projects using a variety of digital tools. We've learned in the last year that more individuals can work remotely than we previously thought, with entire firms migrating to the cloud and saving money on commercial real estate costs in the process.

Reporting in the Digital Age

No, I'm not referring to your company's new journalism division.

Consider all of the data that passes through your organisation. Your bank already gives digital account information. You make your EFTPS payroll tax deposits online. You can even renew your business registration, pay your state taxes, and place parts and inventory orders all online. To put it another way, you're probably doing more digitally than you realise.

Consider everything you've done with data in the past. Make a list of all the information streams you engage with online each week or month in the course of running your Charlotte business with a pen and paper — uh, I mean a Word document. Then examine the workflow that surrounds that data rigorously. Is it true that doing things the “analogue” way causes bottlenecks?

All accounts receivable and payable, for example, should be processed through a software system. Bills that need to be paid are entered into the software, and if the bill comes in on paper, it will never see the light of day again. Then, to keep track of your company's health, you should report online using the software - there's no need to print the data.

What about data pertaining to production, deliveries, or sales? You might be able to employ industry-specific software or discover project management or customer relationship management (CRM) software that suits your needs to take care of these duties for you. These systems can help you handle this data more effectively and use it to achieve better business results. When all of your client contact information, work orders, and the like are digitised — and your team is properly trained on how to use the software — life gets a whole lot easier.

With these areas of your organisation digitised, providing reports on your company's health and production is a breeze.

Production Digitization

Reporting is taking a look back at what has already been accomplished. It's all about looking ahead in digital production.

You have a lot going on in your Gastonia company. Let's take a look at the marketing part of your company. There's lead generation, customer conversion, and order fulfilment, among other things.

There are software applications that can assist you along this path, which is typically referred to as the "customer journey." I discussed a customer relationship management system earlier. There are also marketing automation softwares that may assist you with a variety of marketing duties, as well as digital customer service tools.

Consider providing live help on your website. Install chat software on your website so that you and your team can provide real-time assistance to visitors. These encounters may result in new customers or reorders from current consumers. The objective is to use modern technology to deliver real-time replies, which will help your company stand out from the competition.

If you have a sales force, you can use software to separate and deliver prospects from various lead generation sources to your salespeople. There is software that can assist you in preparing estimates and determining what parts or materials will be required for a work. To close more sales, software can assist your sales staff follow up with warm leads regularly and in a timely manner.

Additional levels of automation within your business may be achievable depending on what your organisation performs. The capabilities of certain AI systems are increasing every day, and they are proving to be quite beneficial to enterprises. This is especially true for jobs that are performed repeatedly, such as data input. AI can assist you if you're still doing a lot of manual data entry.

This is just the beginning, and the future appears to be promising. Embracing digital solutions may help your business grow, and more and more customers are wanting to do business with organisations that are technologically advanced.

In your company, what workflows can be digitised? Where can automation and software help you run your business more profitably? This may come as a surprise, but as accountants, we frequently assist small firms in analysing their business processes and implementing digital transformations. Let's talk about it if that's something you're interested in: 

To getting things done,

Sara Gonzalez

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