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    4 cost-conscious ways to drive business efficiencies this year

    2020 was a challenging year for businesses of all sizes – including SMEs. The pandemic caused businesses to become financially fragile and continues to disrupt economies globally.

    • The impact? Many businesses are having to carefully decide where to invest to secure the best possible outcomes and ROI to ensure business continuity.

      A solution? Whether it’s about surviving or thriving in the current market, delivering business efficiencies is vital right now. Here are four ways your business can drive efficiencies this year.

      1. Automate tasks wherever you can

      Traditionally associated with the idea of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) taking over jobs, automation has slowly established itself within the workplace to improve upon existing processes and even free up time to perform more value-adding tasks.

      At the starting phase, automating tasks and establishing processes may require some investment but, in the long term, this can significantly contribute to efficiency gains.

      Automating processes means implementing software or systems to complete tasks that can be easily replicated or transactional and produce outcomes that ultimately lead to higher business efficiencies. Examples of automation software include Salesforce, MYOB and Xero.

      Is automation right for your business?

      SMEs can decide whether automation is a feasible solution to improving business efficiencies by simply identifying whether tasks within their business could be rules-based. These tasks could include invoicing, data aggregation, email marketing, and purchase order processing.

      Essentially, in the tasks your business has identified as unproductive, could you create easy to follow rules and standard operating procedures that a computer would be able to understand? If your answer is yes, your business may benefit from automating its tasks to improve business efficiencies.

      2. Invest in digital technologies

      In a study conducted by AlphaBeta, Australian companies that embraced the adoption of technology within their business improved business resilience and continuity during 2020. The study concluded that firms with higher adoption of both front and back office technologies had more substantial revenues, employment and profitability.

      With the introduction of a remote workforce, digital technology tools supported 3.2 million workers who otherwise wouldn’t have performed their roles during the pandemic.

      How can you successfully integrate digital technologies in your business?

      • Facilitate user adoption by nominating a ‘tech implementation specialist’ to ensure that you are using the right tool for the right job, and that your staff understand the reasons why you are introducing this new software or system.
      • Invest in communication and collaboration tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams to allow your staff to stay connected no matter where they are.
      • Embrace new tech vs traditional, such as laptops rather than desktops to enable your staff to be able to come and go from the office as required, without disturbing workflows.
      • Start measuring customer satisfaction with updated ticketing systems and CRM software that measures customer retention, loyalty and product repurchases.
      3. Embrace remote work

      Remote working arrangements were around before the pandemic, however most companies never embraced it as a true business philosophy. When the pandemic began the philosophy became reality with a significant number of businesses having to adopt these new work practices to ensure business continuity.

      With almost little to no preparation or technology to support, employees worldwide were able to make remote work ‘work’. In fact, in many cases, remote working actually improved their productivity and, consequently, business efficiency improved.

      This is evidenced in the fact that one in four Australian businesses reported an increase in business productivity during the pandemic. In fact, among those businesses, those that embraced the use of digital technologies and collaboration tools such as video-conferencing, file-sharing and E-signatures, had efficiency increases that were three times greater than those who did not.

      As employees are now settling into this remote way of working, many employees find that they can work more efficiently from home and are reluctant to return to the office. It may be worth businesses considering how to sustain this remote work lifestyle for its employees, both from a productivity and a staff satisfaction perspective.

      What are the benefits of supporting a remote workforce?

      • Improvement in employee work/life balance: A survey by Venture Insights found that four out of five people feel more positive about their work/life balance after working from home during the pandemic.
      • Decrease in capital costs: By reducing overhead fees that accompany an in-office workforce, businesses can invest in more value-adding tasks that would further add to their business efficiency levels, such as investing in digital technologies or sending jobs offshore to save on employment costs.
      • Improvement in productivity levels: Businesses that had a part of their workforce working remotely during the pandemic reported increased productivity of almost 41%.

      How can you optimise your remote work setup?

      • Provide your remote work staff with additional training to ensure they understand any new systems or software, like remote collaboration or communication tools that they will need.
      • Adopt new management practices to establish new reporting procedures to relay project progress or engage in weekly one-on-one video calls to keep an eye on employee productivity and morale.
      • Supply your employees with the right equipment, tools and connections required to support remote working as specific to their job requirements.
      4. Consider alternative resourcing strategies

      Accessing smarter resourcing strategies is another way to deliver business efficiencies. There are many alternative ways to recruit staff flexibly and not every business should consider the “one traditional” way as the “only way” to hire staff.

      Outsourcing is a smarter resourcing solution for businesses looking to scale and grow quickly. This option usually involves engaging a third-party, offshore provider to manage the process and can deliver cost savings of up to 70%.

      Outsourcing gives businesses access to a global talent pool, instead of limiting them to recruiting locally. This can be especially helpful to businesses who are seeking specialists for positions that the local market can not supply. Most offshore providers have access to state-of-the-art tech so that communication between onshore and offshore teams is streamlined. Essentially, businesses feel like their offshore teams are sitting right there next to them.

      This works especially well for businesses who had to introduce remote work practices during COVID. The processes and systems are already in place, so it would be easy to transition and train offshore team members the same way businesses had to for their onshore teams when remote work was initially introduced.

      What next?

      It all starts by identifying where your business inefficiencies lie and then choosing the right cost-efficient option to meet your business needs – whether that be automation or smarter resourcing. Life beyond COVID-19 is different and SMEs need to embrace change and work on internal efficiencies to stay competitive and survive the unexpected in 2021.

      To find out more on how you can achieve business efficiency without significant investment, check out this eBook from our friends at Beepo.

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