No matter what sector your business is in, you’ve almost certainly had to upgrade your technology systems, or at least thought about it as a result of the pandemic. The shift to digital channels and operations has been dramatic as consumers and business customers looked to interact with organisations through online, mobile and app-based services.
COVID-19 created a decade’s worth of technology innovation in just twelve months. You may have patched things together to keep operating through the crisis, but now we’re on the other side there’s an opportunity to assess whether your systems and IT fundamentals are fit for purpose for the long-term, or whether they need fixing and optimising for the future.
It may be front office applications where your focus falls – enabling you to interact with customers, gather data and improve the customer experience through CRM, martech or ecommerce facilities – or it may be back office for efficient running of key support functions like Finance, HR and procurement.
Or it may be both - and some fixes like installing an ERP system enable you to address aspects of the two in one fell swoop.
Whatever your need or ambition, here are five clear principles that apply which we always advise clients to take heed of.
- Make sure you are basing your plans on solid evidence – namely, data. There’s no point in upgrading your HR system first, for example, if the data is actually telling you that your most urgent need is to improve customer communications.
So, step back and consider. What are you already doing well? What areas of the business need improving through better tech? What would add value to your customers, and internally to your staff?
- Once you have this data-driven baseline - prioritise. You can’t fix everything at once. So, instead of trying to improve a hundred items, focus on the top five. Make a realistic plan and timeline and take things sequentially. Chunk it up into key steps.
- Remember that not everything needs to involve a huge overhaul. It may be that your business is not at the size or complexity where you actually need a CRM or ERP system. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make significant enhancements. For example, automation through RPA (robotic process automation), which can be applied to almost any process that follows a decision tree. If a process can be mapped or written down, then it’s likely it can be automated. Many processes that are manually managed through macros in Excel spreadsheets for example could be strong candidates for RPA. You can go live with an RPA bot fully functioning within 4-6 weeks. A proof of concept is even quicker at 3 weeks. It’s quite simple to do, doesn’t cost a lot and frees up staff capacity for other work.
- Give it the priority it deserves. By this we mean, put your best people on it and give them the time, space and resource they need. It can’t be a ‘side of desk’ project that they fit in around other work.
- The last piece of advice may not surprise you – but it’s absolutely true! Get outside help if you need it. There are pre-built front and back office packages in the market that a good advisor can help you configure and implement. At KPMG, we have a suite of Powered solutions for front or back office that are 80 percent pre-built – and we can help you configure the final 20 percent for the specific needs and profile of your business.
If we can allow ourselves one extra piece of advice on top – embrace the cloud if you haven’t done so already. It’s only when data is in the cloud that you can really apply the full power of modern computing to it. There’s a burning platform too – most software providers of finance, HR and customer systems are planning to turn off support for legacy on-premise systems soon.
Most businesses have come a long way digitally over the last eighteen months – they’ve had to. Now, those that truly embed technology into how their business functions and interacts with customers will be the ones who are best-placed for continued agility, efficiency and growth.
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