Since establishing her own communications agency in 2008, the forward-thinker in Baker has not only never been afraid to try a new way of doing things, but also ensures her staff are both informed and consulted.
Here, she lets Real Business know which technology products have helped improve productivity at her business, and provides salient advice for anyone shopping around.
(1) What does the business do, and what is its recent history
TopLine Comms is an integrated digital communications consultancy that supports the growth of tech companies by helping them create sales and lead-focused integrated strategies.
(2) How important is productivity in the different operations within the company
Were a service business, so productivity has a direct impact on our margins the more productive we are, the more money we make.
(3) What was it that motivated you to look at increasing productivity
Of course we wanted to increase our profits and become more efficient. But we also realised that the more productive we were, the happier our clients would be and, crucially, the happier our teams would be.
(4) What kind of options did you look at, and was it necessary to seekoutside advice
We work with tech companies and we truly believe that technology brings huge benefits when it comes to helping us be more productive. For every challenge we have faced to date, we have first sought a tech solution. Most of the time that has worked.
(5) What new strategies did you implement, and how successful havethey been
Weve used a number of tools to help us raise productivity in different areas. Xero and Receipt Bank have helped us with our finances, saving us much time and helping us make better decisions. Asana helps us work together better as a team, supports business continuity and frees us from email overload. Minutedock lets us measure productivity more effectively, whilst Bullhorn CRM ensures data continuity across the business.
Most of these systems have been painful to implement, but worth the effort. Weve also tried a few technologies and binned them after a while it’s not always a match made in heaven.
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(6) How key is technology to ramping up productivity, and how far doyou think it can go
Technology is essential for improving productivity. But only for businesses that know how to make it work. We are good tech adopters: for every software tool we implement we develop stringent processes and train the team so that they are used uniformly across the business.
We get buy-in at the start from the team, and we clarify that each new tool is used on a trial basis at first so no one feels they are having tech imposed on them. We keep the ones that make the business better and chuck the ones that dont. Our team knows this so they are usually quite happy to give any new technologies a go. However, no tech is so good that it can overcome bad management and process failure.
(7) Do you think the UK suffers from a productivity issue, and what doyou think we could achieve by solving it
Absolutely. Too many people here are still scared of tech: they have one bad experience with a software tool and abandon it forever without considering the possibility that it was their poor processes, rather than the tool itself, that was to blame, or without considering alternative technologies.
So much of what businesses do now can be automated. Failing to take advantage of that bogs us down in boring admin tasks and keeps us from devoting time to the things that truly matter. We would be much more strategic if we ran our businesses so that our highly educated workforce could work on more innovative and creative tasks.