October 2020 - Striven

Still Accounting In Spreadsheets? Here’s Why Your Competition Isn’t

Oh, the monotony. Unless you truly enjoy the thrill of filling out spreadsheets in triplicate, there’s a better way to handle your business’s accounting needs. The old ways have probably worked good enough for you thus far. But as your business grows, you’ll outgrow what spreadsheets can do for you. They are simple, familiar, and often free of charge. All of that is very appealing—until you need more.

As with many “free” services, the cost of dealing with issues can be much higher. What happens if you experience a security breach? What if there’s a technical malfunction that leaves your finances frozen?

Though it may seem like an insurmountable task to redirect your entire financial flow, it’s not impossible—in fact, it’s easier than ever. And the benefits are wide-ranging. You’ll be able to save time, money, and valuable resources. Let’s take a look at the ways your business can utilize modern financial planning software:

From Spreadsheets to Savings

Though there are many benefits of cloud accounting software, we’ll start with the most important one—how much money you’ll save. Granted, most spreadsheet-making software is probably of little or no cost to you. So where do the savings come from?

Ultimately, the cutting down of excess labor and wasted time will allow you to spend more time generating revenue. Say goodbye to manually inputted complex formulas, misplaced decimal points, and costly accounting firm rates. Cutting down on financial data miscalculations and the cost of extraneous outsourcing will improve your bottom line. According to Forbes, your cost of labor can be reduced by up to 50% with the help of cloud accounting.

Beyond that, you won’t have to worry about making a large dent in your bank account on day one. Subscription based models are common just about everywhere these days, and SaaS accounting is no exception. 

Financial Tracking for Growing Businesses

One spreadsheet can typically only handle one income stream. This simply won’t cut it. As your business evolves, you need a software that will be able to adapt to the complex revenue streams you’ll build—not one that forces your business into a corner with its simplicity..

One of the biggest benefits of taking your accounting to the cloud is that the hardware required to run your operations doesn’t need to be stored onsite. No need to worry about expanding the server space within your facility as your business flourishes. Sometimes, certain software systems simply aren’t built to handle data at large capacities. Make sure the system you choose is built to be there for you no matter how your business demands grow and change. 

Cloud Accounting Is Safe and Secure

Security is always one of the largest concerns that business owners have when they are considering a change in accounting software. 

The good news is that SaaS accounting software is much safer and much more reliable than traditional, in-house accounting methods. While it certainly takes a group effort to combat cyber threats these days, software can lend a huge helping hand. As your data moves to the cloud, it goes through layers upon layers of encryptions and redundancies. Put in layman’s terms, it is protected by millions of complex passwords at once while automatically being backed up in numerous places.

See what can happen to businesses that are not up to par:

Microsoft reports that 91% of small and medium sized business owners said the security of their organization was positively impacted after switching to the cloud. Entrusting your financial records to a new party is never something to take lightly. But with the right cloud accounting software, it is almost assuredly safer than the current methods you are using. 

Eliminating Divisional Silos

More likely than not, your business has divisions that have varying degrees of autonomy. And even more likely, communication between the various silos of your organization doesn’t always materialize as you hope it will.  

While maintaining an open and communicative culture doesn’t fall under the general responsibilities of the accounting department, accountants can play a crucial role in that process. The best cloud accounting software will allow you to seamlessly integrate data from all of your businesses branches and divisions.

A business that seeks to foster a collaborative and growth-filled environment needs to first ensure that its accounting division is able to communicate with all other divisions while maintaining a big-picture vantage point. At the end of the day, if your money isn’t in sync, nothing else will be.  

Software Support Needs To Shine

Just as your employees grease the wheels of your business, the people behind the accounting software you choose need to be as impressive as the software itself. No system is ever perfect, and glitches always rear their ugly head—having a software support team ready and waiting for you is more important than ever.

Besides responding to issues, you have the benefit of using a software that is constantly being upgraded and debugged. New releases don’t come in the form of a single download once or twice a year—a talented support team works on improvements every day. The best software support will even tailor features based around your specific needs.

Your money isn’t something to mess around with. By taking the necessary steps to upgrade your accounting systems, you’ll be able to ensure that a team of software experts has your back so that you never miss a beat. The best financial planning software and its support team needs to account for everything that could possibly cross your path—and then some. 

Finances Made Easy

You’ve worked too long and too hard to have your money flowing in any way that is less than optimal. Sure, you’re probably doing fine. In 2020, “doing fine” is surely not something to take for granted. But the problems of this year won’t just dissipate on January 1st—there will always be new challenges to face as the years march on. Make sure that your business is ready to handle anything that the future brings your way. 

Here’s What the Future of Manufacturing Will Demand From You

In the 21st century, technological and societal change is increasing at an exponential rate. Just as each generation of manufacturers before you faced obstacles unique to their era, you face challenges that are unique to yours.

The future of your manufacturing operation relies on finding the most efficient ways to overcome these challenges. As you face them head on, remember that your success rests on your ability to do the following:

  • Establishing a pipeline of young, motivated, skilled workers that you are able to maintain productive and open communication with—and who can effectively coexist with the senior members of your team.
  • Investing in advanced manufacturing technologies in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Establish Intergenerational Partnerships

“Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

– Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Men In Black, 1997

People from different generations see things from different perspectives. They have different areas of expertise, different methods and strategies, and different norms that they subscribe to. This is great for your business. By unifying diverging skill sets, you’ll be able to bridge vital knowledge gaps within your business. Your older workers will become increasingly tech savvy, and your younger workers will gain insight into the value of emotional intelligence and intrapersonal networking.

By implementing the proper systems, you can facilitate this exchange of information and ideas from anywhere. Some easy actions you can take today would be to:

  • Assign projects to generationally-diverse teams.
  • Set quarterly goals for your employees to train in areas where they may be knowledge-deficient.
  • Create an online environment where ideas can flow freely.

As you bridge the gap between your employees’ skill sets, you’ll find solutions for problems that could not have been solved otherwise—or perhaps you didn’t know existed.

58% of field service professionals say their top pressure is competition.  As you know, your business isn’t the only game in town. With the field services industry gaining traction each day, it is your responsibility to separate yourself from your competitors.

Stress the importance of having an open mind and being receptive to alternative perspectives—your team will be more productive and prepared for the future. With each passing day, the foreign will continue to appear less and less so.

Transform Your Tech

Manufacturing plants don’t have the same ideological, creative flair that places like Silicon Valley do, but that doesn’t mean that your business can’t be optimized for the 21st century. With younger generations of workers being drawn to places with shiny veneers, your business—and industry as a whole—needs to keep up.

Advanced robots, wearable devices, and real-time data integration software are not only profit-generating tools, they are vital recruitment tools. Workers that are able to see state-of-the-art technology being used in practice will be drawn in. 

Make sure that your employees know that you’re putting your best foot forward. Advanced manufacturing technology—that is easy to use—will let you keep product planning in scope, distribution and logistics running smoothly, and production scheduling punctual. 

Using the most advanced technology at your disposal is in the best interest of your business. It will also send a message to your employees—and future employees—that you are striving to work at peak efficiency. 

Price Out The Competition

Young people want excitement in their professional lives, and are often willing to sacrifice more than previous generations have in order to achieve that. But don’t misconstrue this—they still want to get paid.

The average salary of manufacturing workers in the United States is $63,295. With an above-average payscale compared to other American industries, this is something that you can use to your advantage. Money is not the end-all-be-all factor that it used to be, but it goes without saying how beneficial offering above-average salaries can be when attempting to attract the best talent around. 

Benefits of continued optimization and development of technology will only allow you to increase the wages you offer. Investing in technology to streamline your supply chains from start to finish allows you to invest in what really matters—American manufacturing jobs

Don’t Stop Innovating

Stagnation is not a tried and true method of success. As humans, we have a tendency to stick with what works. It’s a natural survival skill. But as time continues its march onward, it’s up to you to make the necessary operational changes to avoid being left behind.

The future arrives one day at a time. As you strive for a more collaborative, high-tech, and competitively compensated work environment, ask yourself what you can do today to make that  a reality. Infrastructure doesn’t appear out of thin air—the first step is finding systems that will work for you.

The world keeps turning and technology keeps evolving—your business needs to be fluid, mobile, and responsive. Investing in systems that put your business in a position for long-term success is the first step in preparing for whatever flavor of change comes next. Your products, systems, and technology will continue to change. Your staff will change. Your business model may even change. Change is as inevitable as the sun rising each day—make sure your business treats it as such.  

Building and Maintaining a Trusted Team of Technicians

Right now, many businesses in the American economy are taking a page from the field services playbook. Employees are scattered across county lines, customers require an inflexible degree of personalized—and safe—service, and remote technology has become a requirement. As field service businesses continue to adapt to these trends, one thing becomes clear: it’s more important than ever to find and retain trusted technicians.

No matter what type of service you provide, your business relies on trust. Your technicians are an extension of your business—you’re trusting them to execute the goals you’ve set out to achieve. Their professionalism—or lack there of—will represent your business in the eyes of your customers. In fact, for your customers, your technicians are your business. As customers are increasingly diligent about who enters their personal space, your technicians need to be more reliable than ever.

Professionalism is a controlled variable. It’s a practice that your employees have the ability to engage in at all times. But even for the most professional workers, uncontrollable errors and discrepancies always find a way to seep their seedy fingers into your plans. No business, industry, or human being is immune to that. What you can control, however, is how well you prepare your technicians for the task at hand and how in tune you are with the progress of each job so that errors and discrepancies can be kept to a minimum.

By using the best tools at your disposal, you can be sure that you’re doing everything in your power to plan for success while preparing for the inevitable hurdles that pop up alothe way. With the proper field services management software, you can: 

  • Dispatch the right employee to the right location at the right time.
  • Track the status of each job.
  • Improve your hiring process.
  • Get new employees up to speed without sacrificing additional resources.

By knowing how each of your employees work best and by clearly defining their roles, you can confidently manage from a distance knowing customers are being optimally serviced.

Your Technicians Are Your Ambassadors

Your primary focus as a business owner is to generate revenue by means of continued customer satisfaction. The most prominent impression that your business will leave on customers derives from the experience provided by the field technicians who provide services in homes and workplaces every single day. It’s not just where satisfied customers come from—trustworthy service leads directly to referrals.

So what is the best way to facilitate the web of trust between you, your field techs, and the customer? It starts with adapting a mindset of personal responsibility. As a business owner, show your employees that trust and transparency is a two way street. They may be hesitant about being monitored on a granular scale out of fear of being micromanaged—avoiding micromanagement is very important—so allow them to gain insight into your workflow, too.

Establish the idea that transparency is in everyone’s best interest. It won’t happen overnight, and it certainly won’t happen without investing in the proper resources. By investing in technology that will empower your employees to work their best, they’ll reciprocate by investing themselves in their work. While the process of establishing trust starts with you as a human being, here are some ways that technology can be a means to that end:

Outgrow Your Old Organizational Habits

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Though Ben Franklin specialized more in politics than field service management, he had his hand in creating Philadelphia’s first fire company—talk about the importance of prompt and successful service in the field.

People don’t prepare and plan in the same ways. Some of your employees are apt in seeing your business’s larger picture and are able to efficiently plan their days—or weeks, or months—accordingly. Others need to take a much more gradual approach, hour by hour. As their boss, you should know as much about their work habits.

With the right field services assistant app, your technicians can have a schedule optimized for them. Assign tasks tailored to each employee based on their certifications, performance history, and—often most importantly—their current geography. Prompt service leads to pleased customers. 

With the right field services assistant app, your technicians can have a schedule optimized for them. Assign tasks tailored to each employee based on their certifications, performance history, and—often most importantly—their current geography. Prompt service leads to pleased customers. 

Sometimes organization will come in the form of mapping out quarterly goals; other times it will take the shape of breaking down days hour by hour. Regardless of the timeline, give your employees performance reviews and feedback. Beyond putting your employees in direct position for success, you’ll be able to maintain a flexible, universal calendar that you can adjust on the fly. This level of maneuverability that you’ll have at your disposal ensures that nothing slips through the cracks. 

Planning For Growth and Turnover

While your goal is certainly to spend more time onboarding employees than offboarding them, cloud technology will give you the tool kit to prepare you for both inevitabilities. More likely than not, the methods and systems you use to hire your personnel is not integrated into the rest of your business’s technology. Considering the importance of hiring the right people, shouldn’t this process be in sync with the rest of your operations? With proper field service management software, it is.

58% of field service professionals say their top pressure is competition.  As you know, your business isn’t the only game in town. With the field services industry gaining traction each day, it is your responsibility to separate yourself from your competitors.

As your business grows, make sure that your hiring technology has a leg up on the competition. Offer your candidates unique skill assessments tailored to your business’s real day-to-day needs, not just cookie cutter interview questions. Once you make the right hire, streamline their training within the same system so that they aren’t overwhelmed on day one. The premise is simple: a better hiring process makes your business stand out amongst the competition. 

At the end of the day, if you do right by your employees—past, present, and future—they will do right by you and your business. The more you invest in these processes, the more your business will gain.

Ask About Their Needs

Take the time to ask your employees questions. Ask them what they think they need to have a more productive workday, what they like and dislike about their current role, and—the most difficult of all—ask them what changes they want to see from you, their boss. It’s nearly impossible to build trust without having the truly tough conversations. 

Tough and awkward conversations are best handled delicately. It might behoove you to use the technology at your disposal to send personalized questions and surveys to your employees digitally as opposed to asking them from across a desk. Odds are both of you will feel more comfortable this way—you may even receive more honest feedback.

By being empathic and open with your employees, they will feel better about the work that they do. If you made a decision that didn’t pan out, own up to it. Show your employees that when things go south, the best path forward is to learn from the mistake and move on. Walking the walk of vulnerability and personal responsibility will trickle down to the way your employees handle themselves, ultimately fueling the fire of productivity. 

Dispatch With Confidence

Each job that you tackle will come with its own unique challenges. Sometimes jobs will go smoothly, and sometimes they will be a bit hectic—Murphy’s Law bets on the latter scenario. When trouble arises, count on your software to be there for you. When you’re able to have a uniform system that your employees can lean on 24 hours a day, they will be empowered to do their best in their respective roles. And while no one employee will determine the outcome of your business, the collective effort of your empowered and trusted employees will allow your business to adapt to all of the challenges that lie ahead. 

Trust is fragile—it takes time to build, but it can break down almost instantaneously. Utilizing the technologies at your disposal to lay the groundwork of success is necessary, but lasting success ultimately lies with you and your employees putting trust in each other. Stay diligent in your efforts and true to your process—help your employees be the best they can be.

The Value Of A Software Support Team That “Gets” You

Your work is incredibly personal to you. Taking on the task of being your own boss doesn’t come without a personal, emotional, and absolute commitment to the work that you do.

You enjoy the challenge of taking things head-on. You and your employees have found ways to conjure up solutions where others have remained stuck in neutral. You take pride not just in the hard work you’ve done, but the “smart work,” too. 

When it comes to software—and technology in general—every business owner has a differing level of expertise. Some have been at the forefront of integration, others have stuck with older, seemingly tried-and-true methods. No matter where you land on that spectrum, two things are true:

  • The need for total technological immersion of your business grows larger every day. 
  • The software—and the software support specialists—helping to run your business need to work for you.

Not every step this process will be pain-free. There will be plenty of hiccups, blips, and glitches. But hey, that’s nothing new for someone who started their business from the ground up. Just as you’re there for your employees and their needs, you need a software support team that will be there for you and your business every step of the way.

Your Business Is Unique

At the root of high quality customer service is one basic principle: understanding. The support specialists you turn to need to have an intimate understanding of how your business runs. Remember, they are there to serve your needs.

Take this as an example of good customer service: the company you hire delivers a software package as promised. It seems to be functioning as expected. There’s instruction manuals, FAQs, and a 1-800 number to call in case—or, more likely, when—things go haywire. As you’re getting acclimated to the interface, you experience some minor difficulties with a specific functionality.

When you call the support hotline, you’re placed in a queue. When your turn arrives, you don’t speak to anyone you’ve been in contact with before. This person doesn’t necessarily seem like a software support specialist. You’re left with being told that your issue is being processed and that it will be resolved in a “timely manner.”

A couple of days go by, and you get a call from someone doing their best to help. You explain the issue yet again, and they were able to direct you to a solution that left you thinking “Well, that issue wasn’t too hard to fix. It would have done my business a lot of good to have that handled a few days ago. If someone showed me how, I probably could’ve done that myself.”

At the end of the day, you received good service. The issue was fixed, and life goes on. But is good service the standard you’re setting for your business? What happens when the issue is especially time sensitive, or if the issue is severe enough to result in lost revenue? Or both? Businesses like yours are facing more turbulent times than ever before. To navigate through the sea of uncertainty in 2020 and beyond, your business needs great service from top software support teams that you can rely on day in and day out. 

The Hallmarks of Great Customer Service

Software Supports Teams Catering To You

Now more than ever, a personal touch in the business world goes a long way. With so many businesses and families reeling in the wake of this period of economic turmoil, people are turning their attention—and wallets—towards companies that “get them.” In fact, 56% of customers stay loyal to brands that “get them.” 

What does it mean when a business “gets” you? Though the criteria is different for each business and each customer, personalized service is the key.

Smart businesses understand that each customer is unique in their demands and expectations, and will go above and beyond to ensure that each customer is satisfied in their own way. Your product functioning as promised is just the bare minimum, and only the beginning of the relationship. Brands that truly want to retain their customers will do their best to meet their human needs.

Personal Connection

In a study conducted by Forbes, 86% of customers say an emotional connection with a customer service agent would make them continue to do business with the company. This level of loyalty without mention of the product or service offered should underscore the value of quality customer service. For small business tech support services, this level of intimacy is vital.

One way to establish this connection is to be proactive in troubleshooting. Conventional wisdom might tell us that it wouldn’t be wise to alert the customer to a problem or flaw that they may not have known existed. But at the end of the day, transparency, compassion, and genuine commitment to delivering the best product and service reigns supreme. Having a live chat support software will enable real time communication and problem solving.

A Symbiotic Relationship

If you’re a hardened skeptic that believes benevolence doesn’t come without dollar signs attached, you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. It is without a doubt in a businesses best interest—especially in the CRM software support industry—to retain your business. Acquiring a new customer is five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. This is what we like to call a “win-win.” Your business not only receives a good product, but an empathetic and helping hand every step of the way. 

Invest In People

Just as you place a premium on the value of teamwork and collaboration within your business, the organization behind the software you deploy should share the same ethos in its practices. 

The best thing that you can do for your business is to enlist the help of people who will make your business better—simple as that. Do your research into the people behind the software you’re purchasing. If you invest in the best remote tech support software backed by a team of dedicated, empathetic, and talented people that will unconditionally support you and your staff, your business will be prepared for anything. 

How Cloud ERP Is Helping U.S. Manufacturers

“The cloud” is everywhere. Touted as the solution for legacy software systems, its promise to help manufacturers has been a popular topic. Even though nearly every factor in 2020 is pushing businesses toward it, many manufacturers haven’t started using cloud computing yet.

Why not? Lack of knowledge, security concerns, change management and process alterations all inhibit U.S.-based manufacturing businesses from moving to the cloud. Practical concerns aside, there’s an unspoken emotional reason, too: sticking with what you know is comfortable.

But the truth is, your work is too vital to not be optimized—the manufacturing industry is a fundamental ingredient to a successful economy.

For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.74 is added to the economy. This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector in America. Some even estimate that the true economic impact could reach $3.60 for every dollar spent when accounting for the various supply chains responsible for ensuring manufactured goods reach their destination. Given that less than 2% of all American manufacturers have over 500 employees, it is primarily small businesses like yours that drive this robust growth.

choosing cloud erp

To put it simply, enabling manufacturers to reach their peak efficiency is in everyone’s best interest. If you put the cloud to work for you, your company will be better positioned to improve the lives of your employees, your future employees, and everyone that depends on the infrastructure you work hard to craft each and every day. 

Here’s how having the best cloud ERP software for manufacturing is helping U.S. based manufacturing companies improve their operations:

Low Cost of Entry

One of the most advantageous benefits that cloud-based ERPs offer is the low cost of entry. For small and medium sized businesses, this is especially critical. You don’t have to break the bank to upgrade your operations. Without having to invest in costly hardware—and even more costly hardware repairs, maintenance, and labor—your business can direct its resources towards hiring new staff, R&D, and providing health benefits.

Advanced Data Security

As a business owner in a competitive industry, you know that the importance of data security—and the relevance of security threats—is at an all time high. At first, you might assume that keeping your data stored on a local system is the best way to protect it. “If it isn’t in the cloud, it can’t be stolen!” While we understand your protective instincts, your data is actually much, much safer on the cloud. 

Think of it this way—the company you hire is going to be tasked with protecting your data. You have an entire team of IT professionals making sure that your data is encrypted, backed-up, and only available to those who you deem essential. Put the experts to work for you.

Speed and Availability

Never again will you have to fret over the speed at which your data can be available to you. With an entire farm of servers at your disposal, you’ll be able to manage your operations from anywhere. These days, most cloud ERPs offer a mobile app in conjunction with their traditional infrastructure.

Searching for information, waiting for documents to load, and transferring data from one silo to another is all streamlined to the point where you’ll be able to focus your time and energy on what really matters—your product and how you track it.

Customization and Scalability

customization for cloud erp

Many businesses that run their operations with on-premise ERP systems often find themselves working around limitations and constraints. Sure, customizations are possible, but they often require a lot of additional time and energy on your end to ensure that they are implemented properly—not to mention additional costs. 

With an ERP system running on the cloud, the developers you enlist to service you are constantly upgrading their software. In order to keep businesses afloat 24 hours a day, tweaks and updates are always necessary. As the needs of your business change year to year—or even month to month—having a development team constantly generating improvements will pay dividends as your business grows and diversifies.

Superior Customer Support

Odds are that you know much more about textile production, the cost of raw metals, and import/export tax code than you do about cloud technology. And that’s just how it should be. While you continue to excel in your field, hire a software solutions team that excels in theirs.

Their job goes well beyond getting your systems up and running. In addition being available when systems go haywire, your software support company should be there to support your employees as well. The systems you’re implementing are new to you, too—wouldn’t it be great if your cloud ERP software had specialists dedicated to teaching you and your staff how it all works? With every new skill we learn or software we utilize, there is a learning curve attached. The software you buy goes well beyond the software itself—make sure the people behind the software are there when you need them every step of the way.

Of course, the software you choose is only as good as its customer support team. They don’t all share the same definition of what makes excellent service. Make sure you properly evaluate support services as an integral part of your search.

A Critical Business Decision

At the end of Q4, you’ll want to look back on the fiscal year knowing you did everything in your power to deliver success to your employees and customers. No single software/system/etc will be the deciding factor in your business’s success. The biggest factor in that success is knowing how you can take advantage of all of the tools at your disposal. That means doing the research, understanding what solutions are out there, and which will best serve your needs.