Digitalization is here – the time to prepare is now
Digitalization is at the heart of any business’s efforts towards process optimization to create time for growth. Wolters Kluwer has noticed a trend in businesses with best-of-breed disparate software products, moving to an integrated software suite to drive process optimization and efficiency.
The move to digitalization is firmly in motion and remaining competitive is key. Moving to a centralized suite of products that drive efficiency and differentiates your business from the competition will enable you to grow as the market changes.
Business’s are reviewing mundane and manual processes that have previously been managed on Microsoft Excel, like workflow management. Automating these tasks with an integrated software suite will mean your practice is managing processes by exception, rather than by manual intervention at each step. Your software can be set to drive processes like data capture across the solutions automatically, rather than you needing to update spreadsheets or disparate products. You will then be alerted to any abnormalities, rather than managing the norm manually.
Overhauling your software and how your business currently processes information may not seem like a priority right now, it can seem daunting and will cause business interruption. But with the benefits in mind, all that’s needed is a step-by-step plan to get there.
What are the next steps?
If your business intends to make a full suite switch and kickstart a change programme, then spending time upfront planning the transition is key. Once you have your strategy in place it is important to choose the right software partner, have an appropriate communications plan internally and externally, and to train and inspire your staff to use your new digital tools.
Step 1: Define your goals
Spending time identifying any problems and potential areas for improvement will help you define SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals. After defining your goals, spend some time creating a vision of how this will improve your business and what the positive impact will be for your clients and staff.
- Identify which strategic issues you would like to address with your suite switch plan
- Assess market opportunities and threats
- Use a survey to understand your current customer satisfaction. What part of your service can you improve on?
- Complete a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to understand where opportunities exist for your business
- Create a vision of where you would like to see your business in 10 years’ time. What resources do you need to accomplish your vision?
Step 2: Setting strategy and achieving buy-in
Create a strategy that delivers the desired business benefits on time and within budget. Defining the right strategy can take time but is crucial to success.
- Define your business’s core purpose
- Finesse your business’s unique advantage
- Establish an approach for how you will succeed
- Develop a plan with six or fewer objectives
Work with your senior team to create a robust strategy that considers other change programmes which may be running concurrently. Create a list of key processes and staff that will be affected by the change. This enables you to map-out lines of communication and subsequent engagement. Can the process be revised and changed that makes quick and demonstrable improvements to the business?
Step 3: Finding a new software suite fit for your business
It is crucial to understand your current systems and processes – this will determine the level of investment required as well as the depth and type of change needed.
- Review your current software and evaluate whether any inefficiencies are due to technology. Are all features and tools being used optimally for your business?
- Consider the cost of the current software and new software as well as the time and costs saved by new gains.
- Identify what the critical success factors are in establishing this change.
- Draw up a list of must-haves and a list of areas of where you might be willing to compromise.
- Decide what are the key products and integrations you will need to support your current processes.
- Consider if the new software supplier fills your needs from ongoing support, digital training, face-to-face training, consultancy, and knowledgebase point of view.
Step 4: Communicate often and well
The key to communicating change successfully is to create a message that reduces uncertainty and creates understanding. A successful change message should manage expectations and reduce the gap between what people assume will happen and what is the strategic plan. External communications are also vitally important. Prepare a narrative to share with our clients on how the software suite change will impact them.
Some information to address with clients if applicable:
- How will it improve the service you currently offer them and what will the benefits be?
- What additional services will you be able to offer them as a result?
- What reassurances can you offer them that transition to any new technology will not impact on the services you offer? For example, can you run the old and the new software concurrently until the new software has been firmly bedded-in?
- What reassurances can you offer your clients on the safety of their data?
Step 5: Getting the most out of your integrated suite
Once your software is live, test and measure how efficiently it operates to ensure that it meets your original goals. Gather feedback from employees, those using the system can offer valuable insight and will appreciate that their feedback has been acted upon. Training is essential and should be iterative, undertaken often but not overbearing or too long. Making change simple and straightforward is important – along with continuing to explain the reasons why the change is taking place. The tracking of KPIs and metrics should be carefully adhered to.
Finding the right software partner will ensure that your team receives the right level of support and will reduce the impact on your business. Be honest about your business’s needs. Implementing a full suite switch is not a small task but it is an opportunity to lay the foundations for sustainable growth.
allonline365 offers a range of solutions that can be adapted to your full suite needs. We handle implementation, training and offer support. You can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 (21) 205 3650
Resource Credit | Accounting WEB