digitizing your business

Digitizing your business serves to reduce risk, save valuable time, and enable you to meet your customers where they are while staying competitive in your niche. Digitization should be a top priority of any business owner, but like many changes that appear daunting, successful digitization projects often fall behind. Choosing the right software and properly integrating everything will ensure success. Below are five tips to keep in mind as you take your business digital. 

1. Research the best apps for your needs

Diving into the digital space can be overwhelming. You’ll come across apps that can do it all, niche-based options, confusing pricing structures, varying abilities, and diverse integration capabilities. Choosing the right apps for your business functions and goals from the start will save you time and money as future migrations can be costly and stressful. 

Tools that are able to scale as your business grows will offer long-term benefits. As you sort through options, compare these aspects of each app:

  • Ensure that an app has the ability to expand with your business as you grow. 
  • Look at the overall price structure and any possible pricing increases that will accompany a larger customer base or more features.
  • Ensure the app integrates with your current accounting platform, such as Xero.
  • Choose an app that offers features for your specific niche and meets any compliance requirements.
  • Consider whether the app is appropriate to solve the problem you are looking to fix.

Apps aren’t one-size-fits-all technology. A restaurant will have very different needs than a healthcare or ecommerce business, requiring different features and abilities. When in doubt, consult the experts. Our team regularly reviews the app marketplace to ensure we can recommend best-in-class options for your tech stack. When budget is a concern, we highly recommend putting your resources toward selection and implementation. Once it’s all up and running correctly, it’s easier to manage in-house.

2. Ensure you understand what implementation will require of you and your team

Just as important as choosing your apps, proper setup up and integration will allow you to see the full benefits. When new apps or workflows are introduced and aren’t configured correctly, they can have a ripple effect that takes much longer to fix down the road. Working with an expert can help make the transition seamless from the beginning.

If you have tested out apps before and find yourself ditching them after seeing few benefits, consider these five questions before you trash another app. Chances are the app either isn’t right for the business needs or wasn’t properly set up and integrated into the central system. Pro tip: a digitized back office should require very little manual data entry.

3. Identify cost-saving opportunities

Adopting new technology can be costly and seem intimidating when considering monthly fees. As a business owner, it’s important to keep in mind the costs you’ll save when automating processes. Manual expense entry and payroll are two common examples of regular tasks that can be automated for a significant return on investment simply by adding up the hourly rates of employees who performed them. Inventory management and online sales tools can help increase volume and eliminate issues with over-selling, which can lead to negative reviews and long-term lost business. 

4. Use the cloud to its full advantage

Your business should live in the cloud, which offers a safe, secure space for your data and accounting information. Many of us already use cloud-based services for a wide variety of activities in our daily lives, enjoying point-of-need access to everything from entertainment to banking information without the need for physical equipment or interaction with personnel. On the business side, cloud systems allow business owners and employees to securely collaborate on projects. Because the information stored in the cloud is updated in real-time, business owners can get an accurate picture of the business’s finances, inventory, and sales from anywhere. Cloud-based apps are incredible tools for payroll, sales, customer relationship management, inventory management, and so much more. 

5. Develop protocols and train your team

Without proper protocols, integration, and employee training, the apps may struggle to live up to their full potential. As with anything new, there will be a learning curve for everyone involved. It is vital to prepare for the digital transition, including allocating budget and time to transition and educate. Keep in mind how the apps will affect your employee workflows, as well as your customers. In some cases, both the employees and customers will need some degree of transition planning. If your customers are used to shopping or communicating in a certain way, they may need some direction on how the digital shift will alter, yet enhance, their experience. 

Becoming more efficient through the use of cloud-based technology will ultimately help in growing your business. Manual processes can crush a business due to lack of time, unnecessary high expenses, and entrepreneurial burnout. The best time to digitize your business is now. Take the first step by identifying areas of opportunity, researching potential solutions for specific needs, and consult with a cloud-based accounting specialist for optimal benefits and adoption.