Technology can offer thesome distinct competitive advantages. Particularly if growth has stalled or profits are down, technology can help business owners see how systems are really working, or not. After all, processes and procedures that worked when you were a $10 million company probably need to change as you grow into a $50 million or $250 million outfit.
By drilling down to the facts, executives can lead process improvement, eliminate waste or capture efficiency. Thoughtful re-engineering through technology can help your teams do more with less or work smarter. So how do you do that?
The old saying of “You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been” applies to business as well. Taking a benchmark of where you are now can help you find what’s working and what needs to change. As you make changes, a benchmark will allow you to measure improvement.
Whether you’re looking at, the supply chain, , or the whole company, benchmarking can identify how your company’s processes compare to other organizations and industry best practices. The goal: To tailor those best practices to your own operations and innovate.
The National Center for the Middle Market at Ohio State University offers two free online tools: One helps you measure your company performance against your competitors in terms of revenue, employee growth and . Another helps you get a picture of your supply chain resiliency and its vulnerabilities.
If your company is a member of the American Productivity and Quality Center, you can access their many productivity and best practices information.
Business Productivity Software
Also called business execution software, these enterprise level programs can help your company increase productivity, complete projects faster and streamline communication between departments. These products typically offer software that allows accounting, CRM, inventory management, HR and sales to be managed within one system, 24/7 from a web browser.
One of the primary advantages? You’ll have one software package for the whole organization, which, after the initial investment, can reduce IT costs by eliminating the need to maintain, integrate and upgrade separate applications. The promise is that such systems are scalable for growing businesses, reduce management-by-spreadsheet and provide more consistent data security across your network.
A host of companies sell business productivity software, including HP, NetSuite and SAP.
Your company may have grown large enough that an intranet may boost productivity and communications greatly. Not sure what that is? An intranet is simply a Web site that is only accessible to your.
An intranet gives your teams an easy, secure way to share project materials no matter where they are in the world within the safe parameters of your company’s “electronic walls.” Most intranets include daily or weekly company updates of information everyone in the company needs, such as open enrollment dates, promotions, messages from the CEO, weather alerts and industry news. Individual departments may post ‘who to call’ lists, downloaded forms or policies, and procedures relevant to their internal audience.
It can also work as a client portal and a news sharing mechanism, and can be relatively inexpensive. Intranet applications may already be included in your Internet software, or part of your business productivity package.
Smart phone apps
Your employees may be a great resource to help you find smart phone apps that can improve internal communication and streamline processes. Smart phone apps can help your teams stay organized and in-the-know by making it easier to share information when they’re not in the office. There are too many to name, but a few currently popular apps include:
- Evernote – Shares, stores and organizes documents for individuals or teams.
- Trello – Project management and discussions organized by team, client or project.
- TinyScan – Scans documents and converts them into PDFs.
- Concur– Expense tracking and travel planning.
- Wrike – Project management software that coordinates with Google apps.
- Facebook Pages Manager – Manage your company’s Facebook page from anywhere.
- Skype – Saves money on long distance calling by offering free video calling, instant and text messaging.
Innovation, regardless of the technology driving it, will help your company stand out from competitors. That makes it worth the investment of time and money.
These ideas become even more important if you are eventually considering the sale of your company to a third-party buyer. Potential buyers look at acquisition opportunities based on the premise that the target is either ready or not ready to be successfully acquired. A company that is “” will have productivity benchmarking in place and will be using it to enhance their bottom line.