A company using technology to run their business may not have a CIO, but everyone from the owner to line-of-business management should think like one. Here’s why: the success and profitability of the company is more dependent than ever on smarter IT and new software.
In the day-to-day operation, system and process bottlenecks highlight opportunities for growth and a better bottom line. The question is: Do you know how to recognize these opportunities, and how to leverage software solutions that transform bottlenecks from a negative into a positive?
Here are five business values where custom software can improve results:
There’s always a finish line to cross; for many companies it’s delivering their product or service to a customer. In between taking the order and confirming customer satisfaction, a lot can go wrong. People waste precious time handling tasks that can be managed with technology to keep the process moving as quickly as possible. Data loses its value when a person does the analysis instead of leveraging a “smart” system that allows for faster decision making. Improving delivery times and quality of service can come in two forms when automation is used to remove bottlenecks. Not only will that finish line be crossed to meet customer expectations, but more customers could be served with more options because people can focus on doing more.
Sometimes turning control of communications over to automated process is a good thing. Software can improve communication throughout a process, positively impacting revenue potential. Relying on people to take phone calls (when customers request updates on backlogs or inventory is low) keeps companies on the defense – with an eye purely on reducing churn rates. Shifting focus away from ‘net new’ gain to maintain revenue and address bottlenecks through new software to both replace churn and gain more customer share. Automated and/or cloud offerings can elevate the operation from a transactional mode to a partner mode with suppliers and customers. With the right approach to manage communications, scheduling and inventory, you’re an existing system can reveal fresh ways to generate new and more revenue.
When companies think of cutting costs, they review (and eliminate) hard expenses first. Reviewing soft costs — how much time an employee takes to complete a task, for example — can sometimes reveal an opportunity to improve the bottom line through process automation. The real opportunity comes when you take on the perspectives of improving gross revenue and improving profitability. Busy work that takes a sales person out of the field for 25 percent of their day may cost one quarter of their compensation on activity that isn’t directly related to closing deals. Some companies choose to make that task easier. Others will create a solution that increases sales productivity by 25 percent. The outcome with a solution built on value-added improvements versus simply automating a time-intensive task can lead to a 10x greater ROI and increase the bottom line.
Fixing bottlenecks with software solutions can make you more competitive by increasing operational speed and efficiency. But the degrees of improvement may just be catching you up to industry standards or customer expectations. The real competitive advantage comes when you leverage the power of data analysis that comes with automated processes. With well-defined data population and established tracking indicators and reports, custom software can catapult you to the next level by leading to smarter choices by workers on the factory floor and in the field. Using intelligence to innovate on labor use, product development and delivery will result in a more profitable approach to operations and, ultimately, in better customer service.
Whether the primary goal is to grow by increasing revenue, profitability, or both, technology investments should not be taken lightly. Viewing only one impact from a bottleneck (such as speed or waste) can obscure your view of a significant bottom line improvement. Deep and lasting value comes when you place a higher premium on the quality of the solution than on the drive to address one bottleneck in your business. Ensuring value from your investment comes from taking a strategic approach to defining solutions and prioritizing their implementation.
When you put on the CIO hat, think about how technology can improve your business starting with these five business values. Custom software can improve your bottom line through focused solutions that influence revenue and profitability, generating a deeper ROI. Continued expenses to keep your systems up-to-date indicate that the systems you put in place yesterday no longer support the needs you have today. Identifying the business objectives is critical to implementing a scalable solution that will support the future of your business. Evaluate your business needs to expose your bottlenecks and reveal the solutions that will put your business on the path for continued success.