The digital age has brought with it myriad apps and platforms designed to make business life easier.
And they’ve been doing a pretty good job, at least up to a point. On their own, these wizardly tools create time, save money and can give supernatural foresight – but asked to perform side by side, the results can be less magic and more mayhem.
The problem? Relying on multiple apps creates islands of disconnected data resulting in poor visibility and slow processes that restricts the effectiveness of critical business decisions.
Worse still, years can go by without bosses even realising how scattered information is stopping them and their teams from getting business done successfully.
Below, we take a look at some of the problems poor data visibility can bring, and show how a cloud-based solution grants the powerful insight that business owners need in order to scale for the future.
How to deal with workforce collaboration?
In today’s data-driven economy, the strength of a business depends on how efficiently and quickly it can handle its critical information.
Staff may have no problems in organising purchase history, billing and other financial details using ERP software at the back end. Equally at the front end, customer relationship management (CRM) software will let workers track client interactions with ease to drive marketing.
But when an overview is needed to make a crucial sales forecast, how reliably can the two systems and their staff work together to produce a true picture of a company’s outlook? Unfortunately, not reliably enough.
Separately deployed CRM and ERP systems need to have their data synchronised. Factored into a company that might using multiple platforms across departments, a late update here or an oversight there can severely undermine clarity and business intelligence.
Remote working brings the point into sharper relief; key team members may need information access at any time and from any place. They need to know their reports will be recognised across the firm, not just within one department.
A cloud-based accounting solution unifies front and back ends, enabling all users to access the same online database that updates in real time. Workers are given precious peace of mind as they can work seamlessly and quickly, regardless of geographic location.
If you’re meeting clients on a business trip, you can use a mobile device to make snap updates to which those back at base can respond immediately. With a master database in place, work duplication is avoided, meaning collaboration is more intuitive, creative and workers are more productive.
How to save time?
According to a global survey, 38 per cent of 700 accountants are frustrated over time spent number-crunching – hardly surprising when you consider that almost a third said they manually enter data into spreadsheets or make handwritten records.
The overwhelming majority said they’d welcome a tech solution that would let them focus on more important things, such as taking care of clients and growing the business.
The findings challenge bosses to ask if they’re getting the most out of their time with the technologies they employ. Disparate and potentially incompatible apps can make situation worse if data is manually inputted, while periods of growth simply add to the strain.
Using cloud technology, you can tap into smart automation, which saves time and eliminates heavy paperwork. In the long term, your organisation will build more consistent cataloguing, and more accurate data vaults that are easier to maintain.
Integrated analytics tools allow you to get greater, speedier insight into the bigger picture, so key decisions can be made in the smartest way possible.
Network automation also benefits staff by enabling smoother processes. Training courses or holiday applications can be switched to a self-service environment; a request is submitted electronically, a manager or employee is notified and approval granted any time and from any place.
Putting email in a downright pedestrian light, cloud-based automation avoids the traditional time traps of organising events, scheduling and time-keeping.
How to have secure systems?
Of course, you need to know your data is safe but this can be a pain point for companies that host multiple apps on in-house IT infrastructures.
Upgrades and patches need to be taken care of by IT administrators, while life can become confusing for employees who must remember any number of individual passwords. The situation can create a perfect storm for business owners who are relied upon to safeguard information integrity.
A cloud option enables you to unify CRM, accounting and financial data through a fully integrated and backed-up solution.
All product updates take place automatically in the cloud, while the service provider constantly works to improve the system through continually optimising security. Critical data is protected in a solution that scales with the requirements of your growing business.
Compliancy across multiple organisations, currencies and international jurisdictions is also taken care of. This grants invaluable peace of mind to IT teams, freeing up bosses to access new levels of productivity.
How to spend intelligently
There’s no hiding from the fact that operating from disparate apps is a comprehensive drain on resources. Sure, you’re utilising technology but there’s a far smarter way to be doing business in the digital age.
Hours are lost to finding, entering or shifting data and this translates into the bottom line taking a hit.
A 2015 study found that billions are being lost each year in the retail industry because of poor overstocks and out-of-stocks measurement. Internal data distribution is undermined because systems cannot communicate efficiently.
The findings are supported by a Marketwired report estimating that companies in the UK and US are losing a combined total of $140bn each year due to disconnected data. When this much money is at stake, the unification of islands of information becomes fundamental to a company’s survival.
Use cloud accounting software to streamline and automate processes to reduce your overheads. Meanwhile, the inclusion of automatic updates means your maintenance problems and associated bills become things of the past.
The inherent flexibility of cloud accounting results in a lower total cost of ownership, with subscription arrangements allowing business owners to scale up or down as required, free from major investment to adapt existing IT estates.
Next steps with cloud accounting
The time has come to take proper care of your most important business assets: by moving critical financial and client data to a cloud-based accounting solution, you can unify processes to futureproof your organisation in the securest way possible.
Time and money saved can be redirected into growing your business and creating the world-class company that you, your team and your customers deserve.
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