Modern technology can often be a distraction in our personal lives. However, when it comes to being an entrepreneur, it can be instrumental in helping you run a more streamlined operation.
Here are six tips to help you improve the efficiency and overall performance of your business with the use of technology.
- Integrate your systems
Deploying various software and applications to support processes within your business can be an effective time-saving strategy. However, if none of your systems “talk” to each other, you could be spending just as much time consolidating all of your data, which is simply counter-productive.
By utilizing a single, integrated business management system that connects all of your software applications, you’ll have access to real-time data across all areas of your operation, providing greatly improved visibility of your business as a whole and enabling quicker, more informed decision making.
Automating data consolidation will reduce the risk of human error while freeing up your team to focus on business touch points technology cannot help with, such as customer service and staff management.
- Store it in the cloud
USB sticks can get damaged and files on a hard drive can become corrupted, but storing documents and important files digitally in the cloud will ensure that you always have a backup version in case of an emergency. With unlimited capacity, cloud-based storage is also far more convenient than keeping years of hard copy records in a basement storage facility, not to mention less of a toll on the environment, too.
Cloud-based documents are particularly useful when working on group projects. All group members can access and update a single “live” version, and review the history of changes from other users if need be. It’s also far harder to gain access to cloud storage without proper authentication, providing your documents with an extra layer of security.
- Project/task management
Small businesses often have fewer employees to share the workload, so organization is key to a smooth startup operation. By implementing a project management tool, you’ll be able to monitor the progress of your projects at a glance and make sure you’re aware of any upcoming tasks.
There are plenty of free providers to choose from, including Asana, Basecamp, and Trello, which allow all employees to access and update the same timelines, ensuring everyone is working to the same schedule. You can even share access with your clients, giving them greater visibility of processes and peace of mind that their project is in safe hands.
- Time tracking
For businesses of all sizes, time management is key to efficiency, particularly when you’re servicing several clients at once. Getting into the habit of logging activity through a time tracking platform, like Noko or Toggl, can help businesses stay on top of time spent per client. This not only ensures that you as a business are not being short-changed by over-servicing clients, but it’s beneficial to the client, too, as you’ll be able to plan and manage their monthly actions more effectively.
Tracking your activity will also make life a lot easier when it comes to reporting back to your client on the work you’ve performed, as you’ll have a ready-to-go breakdown of all their jobs and projects.
- Web-based communication tools
Poor communication can put a serious strain on efficiency. Web-based tools are a far more reliable way of communicating with colleagues and clients alike. Available across a wide range of devices, they can be used either from a fixed location or on the go, offering greater flexibility.
If you have remote employees or developers working in other countries, web-based video conferencing tools are ideal for enabling face-to-face interaction and maintaining relationships across long distances where employees can’t otherwise bond over the water cooler; and they’re certainly more cost-effective than international calls!
- Update legacy technology
Legacy technology includes any form of outdated equipment that has a modern, more efficient replacement (think fax machines, printers and landline telephone systems).
There are many reasons why business owners may be reluctant to part with their legacy systems. Budgets can often be tight, so entrepreneurs may want to avoid the financial outlay and disruption involved in migrating to a more modern infrastructure. However, by adopting digital technology, the capital that would otherwise be spent on maintaining and replacing legacy equipment over time can be put to better use elsewhere in the company. What’s more, digital solutions, such as virtual phone systems, can easily be scaled up and down as your business grows.
Older legacy technology is often incompatible with newer systems, which could cause real issues for the future of your business, as without a well-integrated infrastructure, how are you going to provide the best possible service for your customers? Competitors will be only too happy to snap up stray customers looking for a more modern and reliable service.
Making changes to systems and familiar processes can be daunting, and is likely to require some financial investment. But it’s a small price to pay. While it might feel safer to remain in your comfort zone, when it comes to business, those who fail to keep up and innovate will soon find themselves being left behind.