It’s the small tasks that add up and eat away at productivity. According to a survey by Sage, administrative tasks, from chasing late payments to managing payroll, cost SMEs £35,600 and a whopping 71 days a year to manage. A worrying 40% of UK companies admitted that they struggle to reduce admin in order to make the savings needed to keep them competitive.
Saving time and money
So, how can employees be freed up to spend more time growing the business and attracting customers? There are two potential solutions: outsourcing or moving to the cloud, converting manual processes to technology ones, via a process known as digitalisation. Of these, outsourcing was by far the option most preferred by SMEs, with just 39% saying they planned to reduce admin costs through the use of technology. But is that the best option?
There’s no doubt that outsourcing can be a good solution for companies too small to have dedicated IT, HR or finance departments. After all, specialists can handle jobs quickly, navigate their way through the legislative red tape with ease and avoid fines and penalties for missed deadlines.
However, outsourcing isn’t necessarily the quick fix it’s perceived to be, due to the work needed to identify tasks to outsource, prepare files, sort out legal issues and find the ideal business partner. Nor is outsourcing always feasible for cash-poor businesses, as it’s an additional expense where the benefits may not be felt immediately.
Embracing the cloud
Instead, rather than outsourcing, many small companies can reduce admin by embracing technology and moving away from manual administration.
The main choice is to embrace the cloud, shifting away from local software and processes. Cloud comes in many forms, but it’s possible to start small. For example, sharing documents between employees and departments is far more convenient than emailing files around, or using printed documents. This doesn’t have to be expensive, either, with G-Suite users having access to Google Drive, and Microsoft cloud subscribers getting the Office 365 suite at no extra cost to their existing email.
Beyond that, there are specialist cloud apps for practically every service from accountancy to CRM. Switching to a cloud app reduces the admin burden of running an onsite system, with security updates, maintenance and other tasks all managed externally.
And, cloud apps are designed so that you can easily add or remove users to suit demand, making them extremely flexible without having to worry about upgrading any infrastructure.
Embracing digital innovation
Cloud services are simple and intuitive to use, so there’s no need to spend megabucks on training. They can also be used on existing business tools, from mobiles and tablets to desktop computers and laptops, so you don’t need to purchase brand new devices straight away in order to reduce admin and gain business time.
Moving to the cloud should be seen as an initial stepping stone to automation. By their definition, cloud services are built to share data. As staff grow comfortable using the new technology and expansion occurs, it might be appropriate to invest in system automation. This will allow access to the full benefits of cloud computing, such as using APIs to sync software from different providers, implementing an integrated CRM for easy data management, or sharing data with partner companies.
Justifying digitalisation to stakeholders
Although this will mean you will need to invest, by the time such upgrades are needed, you should be able to afford them. After all, you’ll have benefitted from cost and time savings, borne of increased efficiency, collaboration and data streamlining, along with an increase in staff motivation and the ability to offer better service.
The final benefit of opting to buy into digital technology now is that it’s a bit like buying a house rather than renting. You may have to do maintenance on your system, or even upgrades now and again, but at least you’re on the ladder and building up experience. Your staff will develop the new skills and knowledge needed to keep their ‘house’ in order, as well as a keen eye for potential improvement opportunities.
Opting to outsource your administration, on the other hand, is like being an eternal renter. The payments never stop, and there’s the risk you could find yourself falling behind your more adventurous peers.
ASUS business products provide your company with everything you need to embrace the digital revolution, from powerful servers and networking products, to desktops and laptops that help employees do more.
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