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SME ? Improve all your business processes (Follow the Salesforce guide)

Improve your business processes and become faster, more agile and more efficient with Salesforce's dedicated guide for SMEs.

Faster, more agile and more efficient

The old company manual has been thrown out the window since the emphasis has shifted to remote working and the digital experience. A new way of dialoguing internally and externally is being developed. Today's small business needs to be agile, resilient and able to respond to its customers on any platform, whenever and wherever they choose. Not only do they need a 360-degree view of the customer, they must also be able to harness data to empower staff and make business-critical decisions. In other words, today's small businesses need to be faster, smarter and better connected than ever. Yet, in an increasingly competitive environment, many SMEs are still struggling to connect their business processes and reach their full potential.

The new face of small business

Numerous studies have already shown that the compartmentalization of processes, tools and teams leads to a significant loss of time for employees. There is also the growing trend towards automation, which could be implemented for relatively tedious tasks, but this is not always the case in SMEs. Yet automation has proven its worth in the efficiency of general business processes in companies of all sizes and in all sectors. From the point of view of the company's IT manager alone, data compartmentalization is a real and recurring source of slowdown.

This situation is costly for SMEs, as one of their most valuable resources is not only wasted, but can also have a negative impact on productivity, increase IT and labor costs, and lead to bad experiences for employees and customers. When all these challenges are taken into account, the action plan for the new small business becomes clearer:

  • Foster collaboration.

  • Streamline and automate processes.

  • Eliminate silos.

  • Unify data.

  • Connect everything.

As more and more SMEs strive to address these concerns, the question for the remaining companies may not be whether they can afford to connect their processes, but rather whether they can afford not to. This is not a new idea, and we need to keep moving forward if we are not to miss out on the train of innovation and new business models. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of what you need to put in place for an SME that wants to stay connected!

The pace and scale of change is putting many SMEs under pressure, but these challenges can lead to opportunities for transformation. The good news for small businesses is that it's never been easier to keep pace with larger companies. In fact, with just a cell phone, or a tablet, SMEs can reach more customers than large corporations could with billboards and expensive TV ads decades ago. Smaller organizations are more agile, which puts them in a better position to innovate and pivot when needed. And when it comes to game-changing technologies, the barrier to entry has never been lower. Today's SMEs can choose from a range of cost-effective tools to boost productivity, link business processes, engage the customer and boost the workforce.

The company process.

Let's start this section by asking ourselves, what's standing in the way of good business process management? We're well into a new era, but many companies are still on the slow road to digitization. SMEs that have not yet connected their processes operate in a less productive world of departmental silos where it's difficult to see the big picture. These companies may know that they need to put their foot on the digital gas pedal, but they are afraid of failure or limited by tight budgets. Indeed, fear of the unknown is one of the stumbling blocks to building a more connected enterprise, but it's not the only one.

Here is a list of other factors that can discourage SMEs from connecting their business processes:

- Short-term thinking.

- Lack of a well-thought-out work plan.

- Concern about the investment required in terms of personnel and capital.

- The idea that digitization and connected processes only concern large companies.

- Lack of clarity about business objectives and the benefits of integrated processes.

- Process debt linked to existing systems.

- A "don't rock the boat" mentality focused on traditional ways of working.

- Lack of solid IT support.

- Organizational inertia, lack of plans to identify and capitalize on new strategic opportunities, and lack of plans to integrate corporate capabilities.

- Underestimation of the rapidly changing market and what needs to be done to remain competitive.

The good news is that many of these challenges can be easily overcome, while others aren't obstacles at all. Let's take a look at some of the benefits SMEs can derive from integrating enterprise capabilities, and then see how they can best connect processes to achieve their maximum potential.

The benefits of having a connected business process.

Connecting business processes is one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways of generating profits along the entire value chain. Here are just a few examples of the benefits SMEs can derive from connecting business processes:  

  • Improved data quality.

  • Reliable data for more accurate key decisions.

  • A better view of the vast data puzzle linked to their business.

As you can see, by unifying data and connecting processes, all teams will have shared access to reliable, real-time data, enabling them to make choices based on superior business intelligence.

Customer satisfaction, a pillar of success.

By offering your teams a complete view of customer information, you give them a chance to anticipate future actions and improve their actions towards customers on a daily basis. Without a complete view of the customer, companies will find it difficult to respond to their needs and new expectations. Having a 360° view across different departments will not only enable sales and service teams to better meet their customers' needs, but will also offer them better opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling. It's absolutely certain that a good customer experience stimulates sales growth. Today, new tools exist to satisfy customer experience and follow-up, and failure to make the necessary efforts to meet this requirement would be a real loss of earnings for a company.

Strike the right balance between protecting data to ensure good governance and exploiting it to achieve business objectives. When properly exploited, data is a formidable tool, but when it is a disorganized, floating by-product of disconnected processes, its value is limited, if not detrimental. By connecting processes and centralizing data, SMEs can create a schema for data management that eliminates erroneous data and helps ensure regulatory and corporate compliance. Just as importantly, they can better leverage their data to achieve their business objectives.

Reinforce data literacy to create a more data-centric culture.

SMEs need to put their data to work. Unfortunately, many companies don't trust their data enough to use it properly, and much of a company's data goes unused for analytical purposes. It's virtually impossible to create a data-driven culture when data remains siloed, incomplete and unreliable. In fact, if a company's data isn't accurate, it can reduce productivity rather than boost it, with some employees actively trying to avoid data-related tasks.

Increase efficiency.

One of the key benefits of connecting processes is the resulting increase in productivity. Employees waste much of their time collecting information and performing low-value tasks, but by connecting business processes and creating customized dashboards, organizations can enable their teams to see more, know more and do more. And by offering the ability to work both online and offline, SMEs can give their employees the flexibility to collaborate more effectively. This is beneficial in any climate, but becomes particularly critical in the age of remote working.

Improving the employee experience

Employees are not always satisfied with the experience their company offers them. Connecting processes can help improve employee experience by providing more accurate information in customer relations, but it can also help companies make better decisions about their own workplace. By breaking down silos, SMEs can look at employee experience more holistically, and assess it across the entire value chain. One of the big ideas following the arrival of digital technology and task automation is to make employees' daily lives easier. Managing and monitoring their tasks should be simpler, as there are now a plethora of high-quality tools available to support them on a daily basis.

Creating a more agile workforce, better prepared to work cross-functionally. One of the most unexpected benefits of the difficult climate - and the rapid adaptation of SMEs - is the diffusion of skills. Many team members found themselves having to take on new roles, assisting other functions or departments where necessary. And while many roles have been redefined almost overnight, many of these changes have long-term implications. Connecting business processes will help SMEs provide their staff with greater visibility across functions or departments. Combined with a training program, it's an excellent way of creating an agile, future-proof workforce capable of working where they're needed. In a way, it's Workforce 2.0.

The motto of the connected enterprise could be "stronger together than apart". After all, the purpose of connecting processes is to enable companies to reach their full potential. If expertise remains hidden, if information remains compartmentalized, if team members don't feel part of the bigger picture, and if customer relationships are seen as purely transactional, companies will struggle to hold their own in the new climate. On the other hand, if SMEs harness their data to fuel intelligent decision-making, equip their staff with new skills and tools, respond to specific customer needs and expectations, and focus on creating a culture of innovation, they will be well placed to make the most of this period of transformation. The future means more information, from more sources, all analyzed, integrated and directed towards corporate objectives. The future is about delivering powerful personal experiences to consumers who are not just customers, but brand advocates. The future is skilled workers in multiple disciplines, all working from a single source of truth and with data-driven information. The future is artificial intelligence, deployed to free the workforce from productivity-killing, low-value-added tasks. For organizations that have yet to integrate their business capabilities, the time is now.


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