Brendan Flattery, Managing Director, ERP, at The Access Group, discusses how technology was bringing about business change way before Covid and why it is going to be vital as we move into the recovery phase.
This pandemic has truly changed our lives. As business leaders, the one thing we dislike more than anything is uncertainty, yet, we have shown how efficient we are at adapting, evolving, and creating opportunity in the most challenging of times. And we continue to learn, finding new ways to address the challenges this global pandemic has created.
However, it’s worth remembering that the opportunities for how businesses can change the way they work through the adoption of technology have been there for some time, for some organisations the pandemic has simply accelerated that change.
Take Telemedicine – the delivery of key medical services via phone, as an example. Until the pandemic, 95 per cent of doctors’ appointments were carried out face-to-face. The impact of Covid has led to an acceleration in the way we engage with doctors to a non-face-to-face experience – a change which was anticipated to take more than 10 years to evolve – that has happened in the space of just weeks.
And although some sectors have experienced a severe detrimental impact from over the last 18 months, other sectors have thrived. Online-only brands saw a huge surge in growth in May last year, when the country was in the midst of its first lockdown and internet retail sales as a whole saw similar growth.
Being able to respond to this growth has required many organisations to scale up at an incredible rate – and technology has stepped in to help. We’ve seen a significant increase in small retailers and growing third party logistics organisations looking to automate much of the process from customer order to delivery to the customer. Implementing our order management and courier integration solution, Access MintSoft, is supporting these organisations to manage their orders, inventory, and shipments to deliver a quicker, slicker customer experience.
These are just a couple of examples of how technology is supporting new ways of working, but also demonstrates how every organisation’s narrative is going to be unique. We all know that the physical changes seen over the last year in terms of imposed remote working have not only made businesses realise how agile and collaborative they must be, but how agile and collaborative they can be.
Long before Covid-19, the proliferation of technology was creating new possibilities for organisations, evolving attitudes, and challenging long-established business models to improve efficiencies.
All around us organisations not only continue to grow and flourish but have developed innovations that have accelerated their businesses in ways we could never have imagined, in some cases, overnight. Now, when you talk to business leaders, the conversations are not just about change but how we can implement immediate action.
Not every business is going to be about big, sweeping changes, some businesses will only want to make small, incremental changes over a period of time. Collaboration is going to be one of the key words used during the next few years as businesses look to recover and grow, and technology is going to be central to that and the backbone of that recovery roadmap.
Key to that idea of collaboration will be connecting different departments and functions, moving away from operational silos. To elaborate, let’s take finance and HR as an example.
People strategies are becoming more commonplace, yet you cannot escape the fact that for any business to be successful, the numbers have to stack up. This is a big part of the reason why finance and HR should be working in collaboration moving forwards, if they weren’t already.
There are many elements of these functions that already overlap, the onboarding of new starters, through payroll and into finance reconciliation – managing absence, performance and critical health and safety training logs. Managing timesheets, expenses, and project management through to client billing – all these things connect across those critical business functions.
In addition to the tactical benefits of seeing data through one system, there’s the opportunity to shift outside of the day-to-day administrative function and focus on areas that deliver more strategic value. The insights HR and finance teams can offer could be a game-changer for any firm looking to maximise resources and increase profitability – they just need the time to focus on them.
HR holds data that can influence business strategy, including information on employee loyalty, details on recruitment trends, on culture and productivity. HR metrics can enable finance to make important decisions on budgeting and resources. Equally, the alignment of HR and finance lets departments see the bigger picture – what impact will the cost savings suggested by the business have on employee wellbeing, motivation, and churn?
Collaboration and alignment across departments not only helps drive strategy but also improve mutual understanding, maximise opportunities and mitigate risk. Rarely now do businesses want to invest in a finance management system or a workspace for its HR teams that don’t connect to each other and other areas of the business – In a recent survey we carried out, over 90% of respondents in organisations with over 500 employees said that it was very important that their Finance and HR software came from one provider, this dropped only marginally to 77% for smaller organisations ranging from 50 to 500 employees.
Integrated, single sign-on solutions for the entire business is one of the options that many organisations are exploring to meet this growing need. They allow individuals to self-serve the insights they require to perform their roles and break down the silos that create barriers within a business. The strategic agenda can be cascaded and communicated throughout an organisation with blended insights, enabling people to access what they need, when they need it and ultimately, to inform better decision making.
Investing in holistic technology solutions must be a fundamental part of the post-pandemic world as businesses look to collaboration and integration to boost productivity, wellbeing and ultimately fuel growth.
To learn more about how technology solutions can benefit your business visit The Access Group here.