How can SMEs garner the advantage of business automation?
Automation has become a core requirement of any business. With new technologies entering the market every other day, many businesses are reluctant to introduce automation into their workflow fearing the high monetary investment required and time and resources to be spent on data entry. Though many start-ups are ready to invest, they also fear how far the investment will be effective in the success of their venture. Some people believe that automation is required only for large businesses and the SMEs can overlook the same. For some others, it is not about the lack of knowledge, but more about its complexity and long-term usability. Whatever the case may be, till recently most of the SMEs did not consider automation as an important part of their business function. Implementation cost is definitely a major risk factor which the SMEs need to consider. With cloud-based automation software easily available in the market, automation has become more affordable and accessible to the SMEs. Now the SMEs can afford digital data for accounting, finance and HRM along with POS where it is relevant. The advantages of digital data and analytics that were till recently available only to large businesses are now available to the SMEs also. Cloud technology and shared software concepts have made this possible.
Cloud-based automation software does not require any capital investment. It works on periodic subscription which adds to the operational expenses of the SMEs. It is similar to subscribing for a paid email service to be used exclusively by the SME. The SME can reap all the advantages of having software in place with minimal to nil additional investment. An existing SME has to spend time to input the existing data like existing stock or employee details. But the time and effort spent on it will be worth the efficiency it brings to the organization. Digital data can be accessed from anywhere which makes it useful for marketing and purchasing. A retailer or wholesaler with digital catalogue can easily take advantage of the online market which opens up a world of opportunities and millions of customers across the world. The time and effort taken to input the data will provide the SME with the multi-fold advantage of global positioning and millions of customers. The SMEs can subscribe to essential modules initially and later integrate with the subsidiary modules like CRM and Finance. The SMEs can also re-align their business flow to match the tested and proven business flow of the cloud-based software which is being used by many similar organizations in the same industry. Now the SMEs can adopt a software that gives digital leverage to its competitor using a shared version of a similar or same software.
Automated Finance module for SMEs
Earlier only the elite organizations had an exclusive software to handle their accounting and financial data. They had the advantage of accessing this data for various analytic reports to provide the management with a better view of the organization’s position in terms of various activities performed. Large organizations with digital data and ERP could get reports on the ratio of sales to finance, or demand and supply, outstanding orders and the percentage of orders that turned into sales etc. They could even also get employee related reports like their performance and cost to the management. This is crucial data which the management uses for taking important decisions to improve the overall performance of the organization and also to succeed in their line of business. A simple analysis of budgeted finance to the actuals can let the management know about the shortfalls. For SMEs, they had to work harder to make such reports manually which may or may not be accurate. The other option they had was the annual performance appraisals or finance discussions which analyzed the budgeted and the actual spending on each cost-factor. With an automated finance module, the SMEs can easily get the reports which can help them make important decisions on-time. Since the SMEs are very sensitive to inefficiency, the right decision made at the right time can make a big difference to their existence and success.
Automated HRM module for SMEs
An automated payroll system can reduce the work of the HRM and the finance department to a great extent. The payroll system will have the employee details and their salaries. It will also serve as a skill bank to the HRM so that the employees with any special skill required for a particular project are easily spotted. The HRM can avoid hiring a new employee, thereby saving the cost of a resource and instead utilizing the existing employee for completing the particular project. The software can also automate the salary payment, posting the same to accounts, payslip creation, submitting the government norms like the tax, CPF details etc. In addition to this, the SMEs can even cut-short their non-performing staff thereby increasing the efficiency of the organization.
Automating the business processes for SMEs
Automating the business process can be the most time-consuming process for an SME. With limited resources, the SMEs may find it very inconvenient initially to automate its business process which could be retail, wholesale, service or small-scale production. Once the process data is automated, it can be accessed by the accounting, payroll and other relevant modules for their processes and analytics.
Automated marketing for SMEs
Online visibility is something every business is craving for. Digital marketing has no bounds and can help the organization reach out to millions of people and organizations across the globe. It is not only about content management and social media marketing, but also about accessibility to real-time data; which is a huge advantage for the marketing team to present in front of the clients. It is a big advantage which can make or break a deal. With a CRM module in place, cross marketing and proactive marketing can be more successful. The CRM can link customer behaviour based on the data stored in the system and also send automated emails and newsletters regarding product delivery or latest offers and marketing campaigns.
These are just a few important automated modules which can help an SME to hold a lucid advantage above the competitors. Automation can help any organization to be more organized and succeed in their line of business.