Let's think for a moment about how IT systems for business management in companies are organized. More than ever, IT departments' roles are becoming more crucial, especially for organizations that offer innovative services while growing exponentially. Although managing customers and handling administration is known to take a lot of time, it could also be because your organization is using diversified and non-integrated solutions.
So how can you optimize your management systems? While I don't take the use of extreme methods lightly, I think its time to consider banishing the Frankenstein monster that your management system has become. You'll need to get rid of the deformed creature created from combining several different parts. I'm talking about the different management software you use to manage different processes. This is the best way to streamline your processes and optimize resources.
In place of your inefficient system, you need to choose a versatile and integrated platform to improve the performance of your business. To understand better, let's review all the common operations found in any business environment and how you can optimize them:
1. Using Inbound Marketing
Intercepting potential customers is the first and fundamental activity of every business. Your company need to attract the attention of their target, turning them into leads interested in your business and ultimately convert them into loyal customers.
Traditional marketing activities have already had their day, but in this digital and social era, leads are captured by offering interesting content and guiding them through the marketing funnel without being invasive or persistent. This is the essence of inbound marketing, a methodology that should be managed in an innovative and constant way through platforms like HubSpot.
2. Manage Leads Through Your CRM
No company today can operate successfully without a lead management system and a customer database. A Customer Relationship Management system is the key step to maintaining a constant relationship with their customers and to implement truly effective marketing strategies. Tools such as SalesForce or SugarCRM can help.
3. Organize Projects Better
When customers are ready to buy, you must respond quickly to their demands. This means having set down your generic resources to foresee the amount of project work and prepare accurate and quick quotations. Later, once you've started the project, you should be able to monitor all stages of the project, the staff assigned to them and monitor the progress of the operations, the timing and achieved milestones. Simply put, you need to have a project management software that simplifies the lives of those who organize the work. Take a look at Microsoft Project or Teamwork.
4. Monitor Resources
Obviously, project management needs time, investments and personnel. All these resources need to be managed in the most optimal way, figuring out what each project needs. The personnel management, purchasing, sales, maintenance and accounting generally fall within the capabilities of an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). These activities are sometimes crucial to a firm's bottom line and can be managed from ERPs such as OpenBravo or Microsoft Dynamics.
5. Bill and Close Accounts Efficiently
Doing work is important, but more so is earning. Although billing is part of what we discussed previously, its importance is high enough that it merits its own section. Once a project is concluded, you'll need to invoice your client quickly (or at least on time), record payments or delays and, at the end of the year or each period (semester, quarter, month), close your books according to the regulations. It's a very challenging task, sometimes a big one, but nonetheless, it's extremely important and it must be managed by someone with full knowledge of all the other stages of the business. Again, a management software with these specific functionalities can lend a hand.
Golden Rule: Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
Based on the five objectives listed above, sounds like your company will need at least five different software. Which means five licenses, five maintenance and upgrades, five staff training courses: the costs therefore are at best multiplied by five. But why create the Frankenstein of management software when you use a single solution for all activities related to the management of your projects?
There are platforms such as NetSuite, which helps users to manage clients "from lead to cash" which means from the moment he gets in touch with the company to the time when the invoice is sent and resolved. The whole system is scalable, interactive and versatile, and can be integrated with other software as well (i.e. NetSuite is even more effective when used along with Hubspot, for an optimum use of inbound marketing).
With NetSuite, you can manage your customer database, allocate resources, monitor the timing of activities, produce and send invoices and more, all within the same cloud-based environment. It's even more adaptable than the original systems it replaced. Using Netsuite, you can recreate the same success NetSuite EMEA Sales Director Martin Painter had just before speaking to a conference where he secured a multi-million euro deal directly from his smartphone. Everything was quick, easily traceable and visible for other managers and stakeholders, updating the entire business system in real time. Try asking your Frankenstein system to do the same thing!
Want to understand the tools needed to better manage your business? Download our free guide: Top 7 Project Management Tools.