Many small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) mistakenly believe that the scale and power of their IT solutions should be in direct proportion to the size of their companies. The reality is that SMEs manage many of the same complex processes as the largest companies in their industries, and they will miss out on critical growth and efficiency opportunities by settling for a small or limited solution. Today’s business software for small business managers makes it possible for you to gain visibility and control over your entire business, just like that enjoyed by larger companies, but with the advantage of fast and easy implementations, and affordable pricing.
The reasons for investing in an enterprise-wide solution are manifold. Past reports by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have shown that SMEs are performing well in a strong and growing economy, but many SME owners are worried about the threat of decreased consumer spending connected to rising oil prices and economic infrastructure damage from Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, the increasing compliance burdens brought about by federal regulatory initiatives have raised concern. As SME owners decrease their level of optimism, many realize the importance of gaining distinct operational advantages over their competition.
SME owners must contend with considerable challenges that have the potential to directly affect their bottom line. Businesses today must be prepared to deal with an educated, savvy, global client base that has access to extensive information and lower-cost alternatives via the internet and global markets. The proliferation of information available to prospective customers poses a formidable challenge. How does a company differentiate itself from competitors who offer similar products or services at reduced rates?
Economic uncertainty creates additional concerns when fluctuations in world markets directly affecting business operations. Cost increases felt by suppliers are quickly passed on to the business owner who has to either absorb the cost directly or pass it on to their customer base. Further, recent corporate governance scandals in larger organizations have shed a more critical light on business operations overall, regardless of company size. The term “accounting irregularities” is now part of the cultural vernacular, further underscoring the need for business to manage a tight-run ship, with operational transparency being the standard, not the exception. This fact alone poses considerable implications.
Therefore, business owners must look at the complete picture when it comes to streamlining internal operations and using IT to propel a business strategy. Consider these points when deciding the size and scope of an IT solution:
Maximize your investment
A primary goal of purchasing and installing new technologies should be getting the most out of your investment, and that means making sure the solutions you implement have the ability to grow and change along with your business. By implementing “quick-fix” technology solutions, you run the risk of outgrowing them and having them become useless. No business should be forced to replace an IT system and face the additional cost and pressure of a second implementation when it is experiencing growth. And what small business isn’t looking to take off quickly? That is when you will need an effective IT system the most, and when your resources will be stretched keeping up with business demand. Better to choose a solution that will scale to support your business and last a lifetime.
Use One Vendor
One small IT solution may lead to multiple vendors. Limited solutions can’t do the whole job. Patching together a quilt of solutions from multiple vendors will not provide the integration you need to manage your entire business most effectively. Making different systems talk to one another incurs unanticipated expense and time that could and should be spent on your business, not sorting through mismatched data. Comprehensive business management software saves you these hassles by managing and connecting the various parts of your business as a cohesive whole to provide you with maximum insight and control. These solutions may also offer integration with the systems of your partners, suppliers and customers, allowing you to interact and collaborate with them more responsively, effectively and cost efficiently.
Select Powerful IT Systems
The requirements of your customers may not be small. In order for your business to grow, your IT systems should be powerful and effective enough to allow you to meet the needs of your customers, suppliers and partners, regardless of the size of your company or theirs. If you are buying from, selling to, or the partner of, larger companies, “homegrown” IT systems may not be enough to meet the changing demands of today’s business ecosystem. Regulatory requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and the increasing efficiencies of technology-enabled collaboration demand that your IT solution is robust enough to interface with other systems.
SMEs can now adopt IT solutions that give them full control and real-time visibility over their entire business, allowing them to employ technology to address the myriad challenges of the marketplace. Remembering to look at the big picture and address your business as a whole, rather than settling for short-term, patchwork fixes, will allow smaller companies to experience the same benefits and competitive advantages enjoyed by industry leaders.