The right technology makes it easier to stay on top of your responsibilities to customers, suppliers and the tax man; to name just a few. The very same software that helps keep these plates spinning can also help to show you the bigger picture. It can give you insights on everything from how well staff are performing through to how long it takes to produce a finished product. In turn, these insights can help you make better informed decisions. So, with a particular focus on your cash, staff, and stock, we’ll show you how tech can help you stay in control.
Tracking the financials
Financial management and accounts software can help you in two important ways. Firstly, it helps to take the legwork out of the admin side of running your business. You can raise and send invoices quickly and easily without having to enter information more than once in different locations. As part of this, bookkeeping becomes an automatic process as your sales and purchase ledgers are automatically updated with each transaction. Financial software is also good for dealing with tax and payroll all in one place, including calculating and submitting VAT and tax returns automatically. As a starting point, you might want to check out this HMRC list of products that are deemed compliant with online VAT filing.
Secondly, financial software is beneficial for giving you a picture of what is happening with your business. It can flag up problems, such as customers who are consistently late with paying their bills. It can also be your early warning system: alerting you in advance if you are likely to run into cash flow problems in the future. If you’re thinking of investing in new equipment for instance, your financial management software can be useful for showing what level of monthly outlay your business will be able to absorb.
Managing your staff
Whether you are taking on your first ever employees, or drafting in self-employed freelancers from time to time, technology can help you to better manage your human resources. A top priority is to ensure tasks are allocated to the right people, that everyone understands their responsibilities and that the work is completed on schedule. Digital task managers are especially useful here. Trello is a good example: an easy to follow task board that lets you see exactly what stage everyone’s at. A free version is available.
If your team will be interacting directly with customers (dealing with queries and solving technical problems, for instance), you will want to be reassured that they are getting through their workload and are not leaving a trail of dissatisfied customers. Especially as your database of customers starts to grow, customer relationship management (CRM) software can be useful. With this, a history of each customer contract is stored and managed in a central location, allowing you to see who did what and when. This is ideal for checking that calls are being answered and problems are getting resolved.
Managing your stock and supplies
Tech can help you avoid the situation of being unable to meet demand due to a lack of stock. For a physical or online shop, for instance, barcoding allows for effortless tracking of individual items, helping you to identify the right time to re-order. With tools such as TradeGecko and Orderwise, you also get a range of useful forecasting reports. The insights from these reports can then help you to make more informed decisions on what type of new items might sell when the time comes to expand your range.
In other businesses, the emphasis is more on ensuring you have the right supplies available at the right time. Here, you are likely to find inventory management tools geared specifically to your industry, such as Caterease for events, and i-Salon for the beauty industry.
Tech is good for giving you the facts and figures about what is happening across your business. On your website, for instance, tools such as Google Analytics can show you who’s visiting your site and what they are using the site for. For further advice on how to use this raw data to drive your business forward, head on over to our help centre.