Article published LinkedIn 7th July 2016
As a Virtual Assistant, I’m often initially approached by micro-business owners to alleviate whatever admin burden they have : cleaning email lists, entering data, formatting reports etc. Often as I get to know the client and their business better, the value added actually comes from analysing their administrative systems and seeing if their life could be simplified by implementing new ones or in some cases even making certain systems obsolete.
With aftershocks of the Brexit decision of 24th June 2016 still rippling around the world maybe this is the right time to look inside your own business and see what improvements you can be making to admin systems and procedures so that you are working at your most efficient not only now but also to prepare for the future, whatever that might bring…
One of the most common ways to improve business efficiency is to implement a CRM system-what does that stand for again? yes Customer Relationship Management. There are countless systems out there with new ones popping up every day. I’ve tested Nimble, Zoho, Insightly, Wave Accounting, Xero, InfusionSoft. I find that g2 crowd have a very good analysis page: https://www.g2crowd.com/categories/crm but before implementing any new system in your business, there are several questions you should always ask yourself:
Do you really need it?
- What do you want a new system to do? – do you want it to track sales? – to manage emails?- to track and create Invoices ?- to manage tasks/contacts -to create events? all of the above?
- Are you set up as a partnership/sole trader/limited company/not for profit/other? (if you are a social enterprise/not for profit organisation you can get discount on some CRM systems/Office 365 etc.)
- Which type of operating system do you have on your mobile phone and if you are in a partnership does your partner also have the same type of operating system or different (Apple, Windows etc? )
- Which device do you think you would log in from most frequently? Phone? Tablet? Desktop?
- How many licences do you think you will need? What is your current headcount and do you intend to grow?? (every package has a different licence allowance)
- How much do you intend to grow your business by?
- Do you have an accountant already that needs access to your system?
- How computer savvy are you? Do you think you will need customer support? Should this support be just online or perhaps always by telephone? Would you prefer to have someone local at hand just in case?
- Lastly how much can you afford to spend? This could also be the 1st question but depends on the above and also how much free time you will save if you have an efficient system in place
I was talking to John from Xperience Group recently who said there always has to be one person in an organisation who really champions the use of any new software and who gets everyone else on board and I think that is really true. In my last workplace we totally re-organised our documentation management process and it was one lady who really took that on-board and trained everyone else how to do it
2 Heads are better than one
As I have worked in companies ranging from 3 to 1803 employees, I have used lots of different software packages from entering carpet orders at Ulster Carpets, making hotel reservations at Belfast Welcome Centre to following up with staff mid and end year appraisals in European Investment Bank.Sometimes you really can’t see the wood for the trees and it helps to have the advice from someone external to your business
In Northern Ireland there are also several companies that provide expert advice /support on IT issues and implementation of Office 365 such as Helios http://heliosit.co.uk/ and Xperience Group https://support.xperience-group.com/. If its cloud based accountancy you are looking for you can contact Accountsify http://accountsify.com/ .
Taking care of the present
There is a stance in yoga ‘warrior pose’ where you stand deeply rooted in the present trying not to lean too far forward (to the future) or too far back (to the past); my yoga teacher is always telling me off for leaning too far to the future . So as a small business owner now as summer is upon you, maybe its time to pause in the present and reflect how you make your business the most efficient possible before September is here again. If you need some advice or just a second pair of eyes to reflect on how to do this, please contact me today to see how I can help www.virtuali.uk
As Charles Darwin said: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change’