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How to Future-proof Your Growing SME with an Operational Management System.

The UK has a great reputation for supporting start-ups, but has struggled to facilitate them scalingup. We are third in the OECD's start-up index but fall to 13th when it comes to helping new businesses grow to the next level.

In order to accommodate expanding workforces, growing organisations require internal processes that can evolve with them. Some organisations may choose a mix of software. However, using multiple solutions can often prevent a holistic view of an organisation's operations, and 95% of SMEs agree that a single, integrated solution would be more beneficial.*

A key challenge faced by many small businesses looking to scale-up, is choosing and implementing standardised processes. For many small businesses the process of assessing, implementing and activating a seamless software solution can be a costly and complicated one, yet it doesn't need to be.

To ensure small businesses have the right operational management procedures in place, it is important to understand the key components that are required for success and where operational management systems can give tangible benefits.

Assessing your needs

Identifying your company's current and future needs by understanding each and every internal role--as well as the business' aims--is crucial. Gather detailed information on how individuals work both alone and together, to discover what tools they need to deliver the best result for the company.

Spending time on research means choosing the system most suited to the way that your company works and therefore really seeing the benefits once it's implemented. Using one piece of software to run your SME is easier and more time efficient for the whole company. Most importantly however, it means the system allows for an overview and insight into every area of the business meaning greater opportunity for growth. Ensure that whichever system you choose includes an analysis suite.

Making the most of your company data

Real-time reports allow organisations to immediately identify where time is being spent, assessing the needs of the business and how projects are progressing and where any issues are arising. This data can range from time spent on a project, to the amount invoiced in a month.

A good operational management system provides detailed breakdowns of information set out in simple, clear, predefined reports to provide an understanding of where small businesses need to invest more, or where they have a surplus. Having data is one thing, using it is another. When an organisation has real-time information and unparalleled reporting, it is important to take this onboard and learn from it. Having an overview of all facets of a business is vital, digging into this information helps a small business to make informed decisions that can mean the difference between success or stagnancy.

Client relationships

Developing and fostering relationships is crucial for every business, but for smaller organisations that do not have huge numbers of customers, these relationships take on even more significance. Using software that can capture every interaction leads to better customer service and streamlined processes.

An operational management system can greatly improve this process through providing one space to hold all client interactions, and by providing a tool to liaise between the customer and internal teams. It should also be able to generate satisfaction reports that provide a clear understanding of customer service performance and response times and allow organisations to respond and adjust accordingly.

Flexible working and collaboration

To attract talent to a smaller organisation, flexible working can often provide an attractive benefit. Being able to access documents remotely using Cloud-based software is crucial to supporting this set-up. A good operational management system not only allows access to documents on the move but also keeps projects separate and folders organised.

HR processes can be managed and monitored through an operational management system. Easy time management software additionally benefits an organisation with the knowledge of who is working on what, wherever they are. Updates can be shared across the company, like a virtual bulletin board, allowing employees to action items directly from the update. Teams should be able to work together on projects, wherever they are based.

Managing time

Every business should allocate appropriate resources to clients, however very few actually use a piece of software to monitor who they are over-servicing and under-servicing. Most businesses assume their employees are dividing their time appropriately and while this often is the case, using software can clarify where the pinch points are. Many small organisations can struggle to identify where time is being spent.

An operational management system provides the means to track and record time, by project and by client. If the operational management solution you may be considering supports all of these areas, the business will be in a great place to move forward and expand.

* Findings from a survey of 100 SME decision makers conducted by Orbit.

Chris May, CEO of Mayden, an established SME in Bath and creators of the operational management system, Orbit
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Author:May, Chris
Publication:Database and Network Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2019
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