In this second part of our SME digital opportunities article, we look at how an online eco system of integrated software can make your life easier, free up your time and minimise effort. You needn’t be tied to your desk or office – you can set it up so you access your data from anywhere, using your tablet, laptop or phone. What’s not to love?
Among the functions that can be integrated are:
- online retail point of sale
- sales and cashflow cycles, including debt collection
- employee management
Start by subscribing to an online accounting software solution. By moving your books to the cloud, you can get rid of the tedium of manual data entry that sucks up your time and resources. Typically, you’d connect the software to your business bank account so that your transactions flow automatically from the bank to the books. Because you can access your accounts from any web browser or from an app on your phone, your current financial position is at your fingertips at any time.
This includes things like income and expenses, and assets and liabilities. Most systems come with tools for quoting, invoicing, managing bills and so on.
What about security, you ask? The information in the cloud is encrypted, similar to a bank’s, so only people with the login can see the data. However, you may want to include your accountant or other business adviser.
As it’s online software, there’s nothing to install or update – all your data is backed up automatically. More saving of time and effort.
Next, to your online point of sale software which can integrate a breakdown of all items sold, quantities, discounts, surcharges and payments (by tender type such as cash or EFTPOS) with your accounting system. This includes a summary of the amount of tax applied to each transaction.
No matter how much you sell, success ultimately comes down to the collection of the cash. Common traps include having no accounts receivable staff member, no collection process or late invoicing. Debt collection software makes the process simpler, more timely, and a lot less work.
For example, all account information will be stored in one central place, available on one screen. It allows you to automate invoices and attach PDFs to email. You’ll be able to automate sending invoices to your customers faster. You can automate your comms so customers they know they’re getting close to terms, when they’ve reached the due date, and later by how far they’ve passed it, without you having to do anything at all. This also helps to manage any disputes down the track.
Inventory is the next small business challenge that can be conquered by an integrated digital app. There are various simple apps that let you ditch the spreadsheets and keep track of inventory items, even on the go via a tablet, smartphone or laptop. The key components of an inventory management app are the tracking of the two main warehouse functions, receiving and shipping, but other features and optimisation can be added. For example, it can automatically enter dates and use your device’s camera to read barcodes.
Finally, to HR (human resources) software. Many small business owners may think of HR as being something that only big companies do, but any business with staff has admin to manage. HR software helps you keep track of those tasks, data and processes.
Simple processes like annual leave and sick leave allowance, absence tracking, training and company policies can be automated via this software. No more hunting around in insecure filing cabinets for the employee records when they ask you for some time off!
At the more sophisticated end, it can help you manage onboarding and payroll, and streamline processes to increase overall productivity and work management.
Each of these individual software options are useful in themselves. By leveraging the technology and integrating these online tools, you can greatly improve efficiency and productivity, which should also lead to an increase in sales.