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From cutting costs, to increasing efficiency and productivity, going digital can offer small businesses a wealth of benefits. And the best part? It could help future-proof your business, so it’s ready to deal with whatever may come its way. Whether that’s rapid growth and upscaling or needing to weather an unexpected storm.
But going digital is not about jumping on every new technology or app that’s out there. It’s about designing a system and infrastructure that’s right for your business, its individual needs and ambitions. Then implementing it in the right way.
This is something we are passionate about, here at Dragon IS, where we love technology but most of all, we love supporting small businesses to get the most from their tech.
So, what are the five steps you should take to digitising your business?
Knowing why you want to digitise aspects of your business is where you should begin. After all, without a clear end goal to work towards it’s impossible to arrive at a destination. So, before you enact any changes, ask yourself, what is it you’re hoping to achieve?
When it comes to setting goals, try to make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Goals such as: ‘I want to make more money’ are too vague. A SMART version of this might look like: ‘I want to increase online sales of medium-sized vanilla scented candles in the UK by 5% in the next quarter’. This goal is much more defined.
Starting with an outcome will keep you focused on the result and ensure any digitisation you implement will play a genuine role in helping to make your ambitions.
Knowing what you want to achieve is one thing but equally important is understanding what may currently be preventing you from achieving it. This is where a business audit can be invaluable.
Spending some time evaluating the technologies, processes, and ways of working your business relies on now, day-to-day, can quickly help you pinpoint areas where digitising could make the greatest potential difference.
Be sure to engage with your employees as part of this process, whether by anonymous survey or focus group sessions. Their firsthand experiences and insights will be priceless when it comes to identifying what is and isn’t working in your business. You may uncover some easy wins, as well as some more longer-term ideas to build into your plans.
Now you’ve created your SMART goals and identified the areas where your business needs to improve, the next step is to decide where best to focus your efforts first.
Digitising is a process that requires a certain level of resource, time and investment, so you may not want to bring about all the changes in one go. Therefore, you need to establish some sort of hierarchy that ranks all the digital transformations you’d like to adopt in order of importance, business need, and viability. A scoring system is a great way to approach this objectively. Create a key set of criteria to compare against and then see where each technology places. The end result should be a numbered list that gives you a clear path for moving forward.
Step four is implementation. This is when you take all your learnings and begin the process of digital integration in your business. Start with the number one technology on your priority list and work your way through as time and budget allows.
As each new digital adoption you make starts to organically impact your business, you may find some of your SMART goals begin to change or that some of the ‘issues’ you unearthed through your audit begin to magically right themselves. For this reason, it’s worth allowing each new technology the time to bed in before implementing further changes, and continually revisiting your scoring system to ensure the priorities you identified remain the same.
Finally, in order to make digitalisation a success, you need to continually monitor ROI against your SMART goals and seek feedback from both your employees and your customers.
If you’re not meeting the targets you set yourself, ask yourself why this might be. Is the new process or technology delivering what you need it to and what you expected? Are you using it to its full potential? Is more training needed?
Most digital applications offer an initial trial period to allow you to test drive the technology and see if it’s a good fit, so take advantage of these whenever possible, before committing to longer contracts.
Remember, digitisation delivers when you have a clear outcome in mind and you can pinpoint precisely where in your business technology can help you to make cost savings and improve efficiencies. Follow these five steps in full, and there’s no reason you can’t successfully integrate digital processes that will help your small business to expand and thrive.
How Dragon IS can help
Here at Dragon IS, we work with our customers to fully understand their needs and any existing systems and technologies, before design a system that will best suit their budget. Importantly, we will translate the technical into the understandable, and only recommend technologies we have personally evaluated.
To find out more, or for an informal chat with our team about digitizing your business and any questions you may have, call us on 0330 363 0055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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