Every year, SMEs lose a staggering £19 billion due to a lack of productivity, with some business owners reporting 60 hours lost to admin tasks per week.
A recent review of SMEs carried out by Microsoft Dynamics 365 experts, Pragmatiq, has found that adopting the right software can offer small businesses the opportunity to regain valuable time spent on laborious admin tasks. Pragmatiq identified one study that showed businesses could regain up to 240 working hours every year that were otherwise previously spent on administrative tasks.
Implementing the right software has the potential to unleash copious benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises; efficiency improvements, data management, gaining customer insights, effective customer management and a platform to help successfully scale. Despite these key advantages, around two-thirds of businesses still don’t feel there is a need for it. Instead of using software to automate workflows or enhance data analysis, SMEs are simply relying on the skillset within their teams as an alternative resort.
In a recent interview, the National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Martin McTague highlighted just how reluctant some SMEs are to adopt a new way of working:
“Our research shows the smallest firms are least likely to have adopted tech products because of the lack of resources although they would make the most productivity gains through adoption.”
With at least £19 billion lost every year due to lack of productivity, there’s a significant case for software to be utilised. After all, software is renowned for its automation capabilities which are essential as companies expand.
SMEs account for 99.9% of the UK’s business population and over half the turnover within the UK private sector. Their ingenious product solutions and services are widely invested in across the country. However, for such a large pool of businesses, it means competition is incredibly high. With new businesses entering the market every year, existing SMEs will need to take action to stay ahead, and software is one way they can do this. Here’s what software can offer:
Done right, automation can allow SMEs to overhaul any existing processes and workflows, making them simpler, quicker and far more efficient. Process automation enables resources to be freed up, meaning talented and specialist employees can dedicate more time to their roles and less time on administrative tasks.
Without making use of automation, companies could be putting themselves under unnecessary pressure. With some business owners losing around 60 hours every week to administrative tasks and processes that could have been automated. This level of duress and time pressure could lead to mistakes being made, such as errors in spreadsheet reports or missed appointments with prospective clients. It’s clear for SMEs that time is crucial. Ensuring businesses can reclaim working hours will guarantee more time spent on vital business tasks, which could also lead to an improvement in productivity. Similarly, boosting productivity could mean much larger sales and breakthrough opportunities in new geographical markets.
Approximately 87% of customers across the globe consider brand presence a really important factor during their purchase journey. That’s why brand monitoring software is vital for SMEs. Without a way to measure brand perception, businesses won’t be able to adjust their marketing or sales strategies to better engage their customers and improve their image.
Software is the solution for this, especially for SMEs who want that competitive edge against business rivals. Companies can effectively track the performance of their competitors and use this data to plan marketing campaigns or shape a sales strategy. Likewise, brands will be able to get a more realistic understanding of their customer base to deliver more personalised adverts.
By utilising a CRM system many businesses have seen customer retention improve by 27%, and support a healthy drive amongst sales teams to deliver above and beyond targets.
With AI becoming a more prominent feature with CRM systems, businesses can optimise the way they interact with customers and enhance personalisation opportunities. AI could alleviate some of the pressures around manually producing personalised content for consumers and even some of the research involved in creating audience personas. SMEs can then build marketing and sales strategies to specifically target relevant customers.
Collecting raw data from disparate spreadsheets and records wastes time for SMEs, especially when end-of-month reporting is taking place. Analysts spend about 80% of their time discovering and preparing data, not analysing it. This can be problematic when reviewing data around processes and procedures, or when trying to understand how effective workflows are.
Utilising software, such as Microsoft Power BI, offers immediate access to all relevant company data under one dashboard. For businesses that need to produce reports or review customer purchases, for example, they’ll be able to easily retrieve the important data needed. Not only will this free up time, but it will also speed up the reporting process for businesses.
SMEs seeking growth will need to be able to scale in some form, whether that’s to reach new markets, operate in different territories, or simply expand their team to increase capacity. Despite physical and logistical changes, such as new offices or employees, software can easily and freely adapt to help SMEs grow. For example, businesses growing their team in size might require the flexibility of remote or hybrid working. As cloud-based software doesn’t require any physical installation or hardware management, it can be accessed virtually from anywhere with a strong internet connection.
Of the third of SMEs who are currently utilising software in their business, they’ve reaped benefits that allow them to scale and grow. As a result, they’re seeing streamlined administrative tasks, faster conversions and a competitive edge that allows them to take the lead. It’s areas like these where software will prove invaluable and enable SMEs to strive for growth.