With eyes fixed firmly on the UK economy as the conversation surrounding Brexit reaches a peak, business leaders must look at ways to secure growth and safeguard against uncertainties in the new year.
The good news is that the new year is a perfect time for businesses to re-evaluate growth strategy. The task might appear a little daunting at first, but these tips form a handy checklist for decision makers looking to place their businesses on the path to growth next year:
Audit business processes and address inefficiencies
Currently, businesses are wasting valuable time on inefficient business processes. Labour-intensive tasks such as data backup, bill paying and manual data entry are proving the most significant time-sinks.
Recent research has also pointed to a disparity between the perceived and actual productivity amongst senior decision makers in the UK.
Despite the majority of senior decision makers rating most core business functions as efficient, 30 per cent admitted to wasting up to 65 working days per year on admin, and another 53 per cent are wasting the equivalent of a working month.
Business leaders must tackle the productivity puzzle directly, because time currently wasted on unnecessary admin is time that could be better applied to considering new growth strategies and R&D planning. Conducting a productivity audit is a great first step to addressing this widespread issue.
Do away with defunct technology
Another factor preventing businesses achieving their potential is a reliance on outdated systems, or indeed no systems at all! The attachment to spreadsheets and similar limited software isn’t just hampering productivity and growth, but it’s also costing UK businesses billions.
By not updating to the latest cloud-based ERP and business management solutions, business leaders are missing out on a real-time view of what’s happening, alerts of bottlenecks and preventive operations, and a secure architecture to house data.
Pre-existing inefficiencies are only exacerbated by reliance on outdated software, so implementing the latest tech is in many ways a no brainer. Thankfully, the pool of available technology is larger than ever and growing. Emerging technologies such as IoT AI, AR and VR will continue to make their way into the workplace in the coming months.
Embrace cloud solutions
The cloud is often held aloft as the one-stop-solution for greater efficiency and flexibility, and rightly so. Choosing cloud allows businesses to reduce enterprise IT budgets and sidestep the complexities of managing hardware and maintaining software.
Some CIOs are reluctant to embrace the cloud because of fears surrounding service interruption or technology malfunction. Provided the switch is carried out properly, neither malfunction nor interruption should be cause for concern. The healthy fear that should be at the forefront of business leaders’ minds is that of stagnation.
Those who future-proof their business through fully fledged cloud implementation will reap the greatest rewards in 2019.
Provide the workforce with the necessary tools to work remotely
The opportunity to work from outside the office is fast becoming a main priority for employees, with many selecting their job based on flexible working arrangements. Recent research found that 95 per cent believed it increased productivity, although 72 per cent of business leaders also admitted they didn’t find it easy to work from a mobile device.
Employers should get ahead of this issue, and aim to equip employees with the necessary tools to work both flexibly and remotely. Some ERP systems now offer Mobile Application Generators, which allow employees to easily build apps to access information they need to carry out their jobs no matter where they are.
Ensure regulation compliance
Ensuring businesses are regulation compliant is of paramount importance, following the swathe of fines dished out this year by the Information Commissioners Office. Failing to align with regulation—such as GDPR, VAT or the upcoming MTD (Making Tax Digital)—can prove damaging to security, consumer trust and the bottom line.
GDPR, for example, is all keeping track of data, which can become a complex task if it’s stored in numerous different places. Investing in technology that can centralise data, such as an ERP system, will greatly simplify this process.
Centralising data will also make locating a trail of communication easier, should a company need evidence that a customer consented to being contacted for sales and marketing purposes. It will also make it easier to erase customer data as part of GDPR’s ruling that people have the “right to be forgotten”.
Companies should use the new year as an opportunity to dot the I-s and cross the T-s, where regulation is concerned. Handling data according to strict processes, ensuring security and auditability, will prove invaluable.
There’s no universally applicable strategy to accelerate business growth, but these tips are guaranteed to at least lay the necessary foundations.
Upgrading to the right technology is a great way to combat inefficient processes, and will also allow time to be reallocated to tasks that have the potential to both develop the workforce and grow the business. Transparent communication up and down an organisation is central to its success, and the right tech goes a long way to making that possible.