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    Business Systems

    Business management systems – why bespoke is best

    In today’s information age, businesses have access to a depth and breadth of data that can help them understand their customers and a business management system can harness this data to provide them with valuable insights.

    For businesses, this means that they can get a true 360o picture of what their customers feel, how they behave and even how they may act in the future. For us as marketers, this is valuable information – and for our clients, it often proves to be invaluable.

    Data management system

    These systems are software programmes designed to answer a wide range of business needs, such as management inf
    ormation, automation of processes, invoicing, resource planning, human resources management, and customer relationship management.

    The really good news is that harnessing this data is also easier than ever before through the systematic use of business management systems that have been tailor-made to achieve a set of pre-determined objectives. But we believe that it’s not the most important information that they have at their fingertips.

    That’s because the information that they have about their own business could prove to be more powerful still. It can reveal all they need to know about every aspect of how they are performing, even down to the most granular of levels, pinpointing issues and indicating where real improvements could be made.

    What is a business management system?

    If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a business management system, at its most basic it is a software programme that is designed to answer a wide range of business needs. As we’ll go on to explain, this can be as all-encompassing as required or as closely focused as needed. 

    While off-the-shelf solutions exist, many businesses opt for bespoke software development to meet their specific needs. Bespoke software can provide a competitive advantage, as it is tailored to meet the specific business processes of a company. There are many advantages and disadvantages of bespoke software. Some of the advantages of bespoke software are.

    Management information:

    A custom management system can help to gather and present data about various aspects of a business, such as sales, inventory, customer behaviour, and more.

    This data can be used to generate reports and dashboards that provide insights into the performance of the business, which can help management make informed decisions about strategy, resource allocation, and other areas.

    Automation of processes

    Many businesses have complex processes that are prone to errors and inefficiencies when performed manually. A custom management system can help to automate these processes, reducing errors and freeing up time and resources for other tasks.

    Invoicing a software system

    Invoicing and accounts are payable can be a major headache for many businesses, particularly those that deal with a high volume of transactions. A custom management system can help to streamline this process, making it faster and more efficient. For example, a system could automatically generate and send invoices, track payments, and provide reports on outstanding balances.

    Resource planning

    A custom management system can help businesses to plan and manage their resources more effectively. This could include things like inventory management, staff scheduling, and project planning. By having a clearer picture of what resources are needed and when, businesses can avoid over- or under-staffing, reduce waste, and improve overall efficiency.

    Human resources management

    HR processes can also be automated and streamlined using a custom bespoke solution. This could include things like recruiting, onboarding, performance management, and benefits administration.

    By having a central system for managing these processes, businesses can reduce administrative burdens and improve communication with employees.

    Customer relationship management

     A custom management system can also incorporate functions related to managing customer relationships. This could include things like customer data management, marketing automation, and customer support. By having a clearer picture of customer behaviour and preferences, businesses can tailor their offerings to better meet customer needs and improve overall satisfaction.

    Why might you need a business system?

    Yes, there are a few businesses that are efficient as they can possibly be. But these are very much the exception rather than the rule. Even in rare examples where the management is 100% on top of everything, the situation can quickly change. It could be because the business is growing and evolving or there may be switches in key personnel or culture. 

    And, for the rest of the business world, there are undoubtedly efficiencies to be made. Often, the prevailing approach may be “We’ve already done it this way and it’s worked out fine” but it’s always better to aim a little higher than just “fine”.

    So any business with the ambition to be on a journey of continuous improvement needs to consider whether a management system could help to move them forward on their way. Because we all know that businesses that are not on a forward trajectory often find themselves on no trajectory at all.

    So who needs a business system?

    As you might expect us to say, there isn’t a single business that couldn’t benefit in some way or another from having a business management system. And having a bespoke one will simply make an even bigger difference.

    There are obvious reasons for a business that is currently struggling or underperforming to look into how a system could start to transform its fortunes. Fairly soon it should be able to start turning things around.

    But there is also an argument to say that it could be an even bigger benefit for a business that’s thriving. That’s because starting from a strong base gives the firmer foundations to build for future prosperity and success. The basic business processes will already be in place, all that may be lacking is the ability to take a bird’s eye view of them to see where they can be improved.

    So it would be a very brave management of a business who could say with real confidence and conviction that there would be no gains to be made by investing in some new business solutions.

    What exactly does a business system do?

    We like to say that a good system covers the Four Ps – procedures, processes, practices and policies. Perhaps the easiest way to explain what this means in practical terms is to give snapshots of what we have done for a couple of clients in particular. While your own needs may be different, this will give you an idea of the scope of a system.

    Arla Foods is one of the world’s leading producers of dairy products. It has reached this level of success by following a philosophy of Continuous Improvement. However, there was a feeling within the business that this could be fine-tuned.

    Internal communication needed to be improved and a more joined-up approach created. Too often good ideas were lost in the system before there was a chance to implement them.

    So our task was to create a system that pulled together the many different strands of information and create a level of consistency in the way the data could be presented, stored and shared.

    The result was a solution that also introduced some new concepts including a rewards scheme for employees whose contributions had gone above and beyond expectations.

     

    Part of the Continuous Improvement system built for Arla Foods

     

    A very different kind of solution was needed for the telecoms company ee which wanted a broader-ranging management system that could take in aspects of task allocation, HR and much more besides.

    The result, according to the client, was that “the system delivered massive and immediately quantifiable savings in management time, plus staff need minimal training . . . We were supplied with the user manuals but everything is so intuitive, we’ve hardly used them”.

    The benefits of a business system

    As these are just two examples they give just a snapshot of the benefits that can accrue from having a high-quality, bespoke system.

    The first of these is far greater efficiency, and that’s sure to show up on the bottom line. Not only will all the necessary information be easy to handle, but just having one piece of software to control it will make it quicker and easier to use. In terms of productivity, this will save a great deal of time that might otherwise be spent transferring information between programmes.

    Then there’s the question of accessibility. The best systems use cloud computing to let you use them wherever and whenever you like. They can also be adjusted to give different levels of access according to individuals’ needs to know and their particular responsibilities in an organisation.

    Simplicity should be built-in so information can be easily accessible. There is also the facility to quickly switch from one application to another, for example from HR matters to the CRM system. Plus, it will integrate all of these areas to create one coherent whole.

    This is especially important because having several different programmes or systems and having to transfer information between them means that errors and omissions can easily occur. This not only hinders, it can also have great cost implications in terms of the time needed to put things right as well as the problems caused by reacting to inaccurate information.

    But the real bottom line is, well, the bottom line. As a business management system really gets into its swing, the effects will be seen in the profitability of the company. And that’s where it’s going to start showing significant returns on your investment.

    Why go bespoke?

    So far, we’ve talked about business management systems in general. And it’s true that you can buy systems off the shelf for less than one made to your specifications might cost. But the three words in the previous sentence, to your specifications, are the ones that spell out the reason for going bespoke.

    Bespoke software offers a unique software solution that is created specifically for your business, giving you a competitive edge by providing better systems than your competitors.

    For example, bespoke customer relationship management (CRM) software can streamline HR processes, transform complex business processes, and make a vital contribution to cash-flow efficiency.

    However, there are also disadvantages of bespoke software, such as the initial cost, upgrade and subscription costs, and the need for a skilled software development team. Nevertheless, the benefits of bespoke software for your business are numerous, and it can become a valuable business asset that helps meet your specific needs.

    Every business is unique with its own structure, objectives, culture and issues. So there is very unlikely to be an off-the-shelf solution that is going to take account of all these. It’s also likely to include a number of features that you don’t need and will probably never use even though they are included in the overall cost of the system.

    But a bespoke system will have been developed and precision-built with exact specifications in mind. So it will even use the same sort of language that your company does and be branded according to your corporate guidelines.

    We build systems to integrate seamlessly with your brand

    As well as the immediate benefit of increased efficiency, there will also be longer-term advantages of going bespoke. As your business grows and even diversifies, the system can be adapted to fit. This wouldn’t be possible with a non-bespoke version. What’s more, there are likely to be fairly frequent updates to the latter, and you’ll have no control over them.

    There’s also no limit or extra cost to making a bespoke system work for an increased number of users – very useful if it has its desired effect and leads to the growth of the business.

    Last, but not least, the investment you make in the system will lead to it becoming a genuine asset that should be factored into the overall value of the company. As such, the cost of creating it may even be a legitimate deduction from your Corporate Tax burden.

    Why choose Cefar?

    When you’re looking around for an agency you think will be capable of taking on the task of building a system for you, there are a couple of questions you must ask.

    The first is whether they have a track record of success in the field, and the second is whether you think they will; really get to understand your business. This is especially important because they will have to be nearly as knowledgeable as you are if it’s really going to be a success.

    Fortunately, Cefar can answer “yes” to both and have the case studies to prove it. We see getting right under the skin of a client’s business as being of paramount importance before we do anything else. Once we have a clear picture of this and a thorough understanding of the system’s aims, that’s when we really get to work.

    Our experienced team of developers will work tirelessly to create a system that does all that it’s meant to, while our designers will make sure that it looks great in the process. With frequent and regular status reports and meetings, we take our clients with us along every stage of the creative journey.

    Testing and refining is a vital part of this, as is making adaptations as soon as it becomes obvious that they are needed. We also work hard to make sure that all stakeholders are involved along the way.

    We believe that the beauty of having your software designed specifically for your business is that it is tailored to meet your specific needs. Compared to off-the-shelf software, bespoke software is often better suited to your business processes and provides a better return on investment in the long run.

    Our involvement goes much further than this. Change can sometimes be resisted and that’s why we are always on hand to reassure, advise and even give training if necessary. In the past, we have managed to win over even the most sceptical and resistant members of staff.

    Then we go on to support and develop the system into the future, ready to adjust and refine it in line with new needs and changing priorities.

    In this article, a bespoke software solution can help your business improve its workflows, provide better systems than your competitors, and become a valuable business asset. It is an investment in the future of your business and can give you a competitive edge that sets you ahead of the curve.

    So if you’d like to take the next step just contact us today. It could be the start of a very successful journey.