Five Steps plan for improved productivity in 2021. For Businesses.
Business operations need to adopt the flexibility of employees working from home or off site.
This may not have been the requirement in 2019 but the last year has changed everything. In fact, 2020 has propelled the introduction of flexibility for business operations using advancing technology and platforms. There are varied issues to address in 2021. Starting with how can an employee access a required database without ever stepping into the office, how does an employee collaborate with internal stakeholders to solve issues, and how to remove redundant paper based processes.
Based on our experience of implementation within our organisation we can identify five areas to work on in 2021 for improved business productivity. Less time spent on clarification, more accurate data and speed of processing - the benefits can lead to greater productivity.
1. Move Business Process Online
Fortunately, at Crest, we have adopted online systems from day one, whether it be our accounting system, payroll system or reimbursements for employees. Online processing of data using tools gives three major advantages, namely visibility, trackability and speed to give feedback. There are many SAAS (Software As A Service) tools available which make it extremely simple to access data or get reports. It is extremely powerful to send your own accountant queries using online reports analysis for further improving working capital structure sitting in the home or while transiting. When your bank data is connected to your accounting system it gives another level of clarity and efficiency to process accounting entries faster.
Another huge advantage to taking business processes online is that it increases visibility. Your CFO is able to visit an accounting system online and satisfy queries. When payroll data is online, it enables the team to collaboratively work online so that work does not stop when a payroll team member is away from work for a longer duration. There are accounting, productivity, team available online. SAAS has allowed small and medium enterprises to do things that some of the largest organisations are not able to do because of massive investment in client ERP or investment on huge infrastructure to make their traditional system available using VPN (Virtual Private Network) or SSO (Single Sign On) like Citrix. Small and medium enterprises are able to take the business on subscription model software at a fraction of the cost to enable a business advantage. That’s a good case to go online now.
2. Connect Departments
It is imperative for everyone to collaborate to achieve business objectives. It is much simpler to do it in the office, but work from home environment adds comfort and flexibility for the employee. This means demanding a greater degree of communication and data flow to other cross functional departments, as team members are working in different locations. That’s where enterprise software becomes inevitable for two reasons, for enabling smooth flow of information and setting authorisation for access and workflow. Flow of information and data with required authorisation once available in ERP, there is a trail and audit of activity available. It gives confidence to the team member who is a recipient or user of data to further process or publish data upstream. Any process that has upstream use or requirement needs to be brought into ERP. If a process has no upstream impact the same can remain outside. This is a yardstick to decide which processes to bring in ERP and which can remain outside. Look for ERP for your industry specific versus generic. Look for ERP that has more and more online capability as that’s the future as we explained in point number 1 above.
Each industry has unique processes and within industries, each business has different business processes. Having an application that helps organise data in one place and provide reports is very easy with online applications. We adopted online forms submission using an application through subscription to declare the health status of an employee before starting the work day, as part of our COVID 19 post lockdown business normalisation strategy. Every employee goes online to provide a health declaration daily. Any declaration that helps us to reach out to a team member for assisting with medical help or insurance helps us to take care of our team. We are able to give a fast response under COVID 19 scenarios for our team thanks to online application. Can you find any other better way to capture this data daily and get reports so that you can approach employees if they need any medical assistance? This is purely automated and a tactical approach reducing the involvement of people. Look for online apps that help you reduce involvement of people and give you required data.
We must address the question – Do we create an in-house app or use off the shelf app? Not every single process needs to be converted to an App as there are already thousands of Apps out there which can be leveraged without investing your time, efforts and money which is backed by a large number of users and their feedback. You may make an app when there is no substitute or which is mission critical for your business success.
2nd day of COVID 19 lockdown and we were online on google meet call with employees. We were trying to learn from a senior executive working with a US Healthcare firm about how he has been working from home even before COVID 19. Starting with the basics of online meetings and pros and cons of working from home. His valuable input on the 2nd day of lockdown helped our team to become disciplined and manage work from home during the six months long lock down and not only that team produced great results working from home. This was online training. Online training and learning is extremely easy and simple. We can now invite anyone from around the world and help us understand how they master the art of what they do best. Tools that you need you are already using Google Meet or Zoom or any other tool that you are using. Take the next step and you have a host of online learning platforms like Udemy, eDX, Harappa and many more. Learning how to build a social media strategy is free on lots of blogs on youtube or you can sign on for lessons for less than $100 and you will have experts teaching 21 hours of class with decades of experience in marketing and managing social media. Someone is excellent at a functional role but needs some help on Spreadsheet advanced formulas, can go to youtube or sign up for a course. Companies can sponsor training and make employees empowered.
5. Online Repository
We all have used online drives or repositories. Both have different meanings for some. The reference for our view here is an ability to store, use and collaborate. Google drive is widely used by businesses and for personal use. There are other formats of the file sharing services like WeTransfer and Hightail which are great tools focusing on transferring of large size files without email restricting on 5 or 25 MB restrictions.
The next level of these repositories is not only to store files and content but can be a very powerful tool to collaborate and have everyone on the same page. That’s when these repositories become so important for business as you can authorise people to edit or only view by setting authorisation for a user. While you are on your way to the client’s office, you can ask your team to add that additional slide of information that comes to you as an important solution for their just 20 mins before your meeting is about to start.
Today, the world is so beautiful and exciting. A whole new range of power is given to all of us by innovative and productive applications or solutions which were never there in human history. If we can not use, fail, learn and experiment, we are getting taken over by competition.