Small businesses today are inundated with information—including content created internally as well as documents and files received from customers, partners and suppliers. Without an information management framework, time is wasted searching through file folders and various business systems for business-critical documents. This is often compounded by the proliferation of multiple versions of the same file, which results in errors and repeated work. When it comes to managing vast amounts of information—such as proposals, plans and contracts, product and inventory catalogues, order forms, invoices and receipts, building plans, support tickets and personnel records— small businesses simply cannot operate at maximum efficiency without the ability to easily search, share and protect their critical files and documents.
In addition to the sheer volume of files being produced by a variety of sources, today’s “content chaos” challenge is further compounded by the fact that the data typically resides across an increasingly complex landscape of applications, network folders and devices. Dedicated or “best of breed” information management solutions abound, adding to the complexity because of their limitations, instead of alleviating it on an organisation-wide scale. The ability to effectively manage and harness business-critical information at any time and from anywhere—using a single, centralised system—is essential not only to day-to-day operations, but also for long-term growth and small business success.
The Information Management Challenge
Similar to larger corporations, it has become increasingly vital for small businesses to devise processes that facilitate smooth operations and ensure consistent workflows across the entire organisation. But often, as these processes are implemented, new information silos are created, which further complicates the task of managing an organisation’s collective data.
Simply put, empowering employees to quickly and easily locate the exact content they need, regardless of which business application it resides in, leads to better decisions, faster results and improved collaboration. When small businesses can ensure that the right content is in the right hands at the right time, they can focus on using information to drive growth, value and innovation.
Finance: Automate Billing Processes
The finance department is the epicentre of a business’s operations, ensuring that accounts are properly billed and paid in a timely manner. One of the greatest benefits small businesses can experience as a result of implementing EIM is to automate accounts payable and invoice processing workflows. Automation not only eliminates manual handling of payables and receivables, but also the human errors that manual processing can cause. In addition, automation reduces the time and cost of financial operations, helping small businesses maximise existing resources and do more with less.
Another area that can benefit from automating via an ECM system is the process for managing corrective and preventative actions (CAPAs). Auditors look for the gap between what a company does and what the procedures say they do. Unavoidably deviations occur, ranging from minimal to calamitous—and when a deviation occurs—the related CAPA must be defined, documented and communicated. The CAPA must then be tracked to verify that the impacted individuals have read and understood the new SOPs associated with the CAPA. The right ECM solution will provide updated tasks as needed for improved corrective management and ensure all affected staff members have read and understood the updated SOP. It takes the guesswork out of the process.
HR: Streamline Hiring Practices and Collaboration
In human resources (HR), managing employee records and learning requirements can be made easier, faster and more secure using an EIM solution. Also, EIM provides organisations with a centralised platform for managing all of the processes and paperwork that support the HR function including recruitment, on boarding, training and performance management.
Legal: Simplify Contract Management
The process of managing contracts can be challenging, particularly when you consider how many different organisations, departments and individuals are typically involved. Today, there are a number of ways in which companies are completing the task of contract management. Some organisations use an end-to-end business system such as SAP, while others rely on Excel spreadsheets. But regardless of the approach, the process of contract management can be simplified, automated and improved using EIM.
Customer Service: Optimise Accuracy and Response Times
Utilising EIM to automate front and back-end office processes ultimately has a positive effect on the customer experience. When employees have fast access the right customer-related information, issues can be resolved expeditiously and satisfaction improves.
How to Get Started: Next Steps for Small Businesses
Small businesses have more agility to respond to changes in the market, but doing so effectively requires fast employee access to business information, along with the ability to automate manual business processes.
While dedicated or “best of breed” solutions can address this challenge department by department, they are limited in scope. Only EIM has the capacity to provide a single, centralised solution that serves as a cross-departmental workhorse that benefits the entire organisation.
EIM supports the information management and expedited workflow automation needs that are critical to ensuring quality and consistent levels of service as the company grows. With the ability to organise, search and manage the vast universe of business information, businesses can streamline workflows and create efficiencies across accounting, HR, legal, and customer service teams, improving the speed at which business is conducted, as well as the end customer’s experience.