An investor perspective on IT: Do your systems give you the capacity to grow?

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We live in rapidly changing times, especially for businesses. Consider that, in a single generation, businesses have had to adapt to entirely new marketing channels (web and social), decide how to invest in and utilize new technologies, and compete on a global stage. The current economic climate is something current business owners have not experienced before so many are unsure as to how to push their business forward without the guarantee of a stable future. Business growth and continuity stems from business owners being able to plan long-term and develop these plans over a period of time, but this is harder to do because of the lack of guarantee as to the state of the economy over the next couple of years.

As noted in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report, “Scaling SMEs: Building a flexible platform for growth“, investors care about what you’re doing – and are planning to do – to ensure that your business actually has the capacity to grow. Because failing to invest in the right areas can structurally limit growth in the future.

A growth strategy should define how and when you are putting in place new IT systems, processes, and organizational structures to support sustainable operations. It should cover everything from management structures, reporting lines, policies and disciplines, and communications channels to the establishment of repeatable processes and procedures – which is where IT can help the most.

Investing in the right IT solution can simplify much of the complexity that naturally develops as companies expand nationally and globally, go digital, hire new people, acquire new businesses, develop complex supply chains, and more. Along the way, they need to comply with more regulations, perform financial consolidations faster, and understand what’s happening across the business to make better, faster decisions.

You can standardize and automate everyday processes in areas like these. Think purchasing, invoicing, new employee enrollment, financial reporting, bank reconciliation, and expense approvals. By automating key steps in processes in these types of areas, you can multiply the productivity of your employees. Many tasks simply take care of themselves, as process and decision automation built into ERP and other systems can trigger next steps, such as reviews and approvals – automatically.

This means you can run your business more efficiently and transparently, as well as scale your business without having to hire more people. In other words, you can run simple.

All this is music to an investor’s ears – and your bottom line.

Of course, this assumes that you make wise choices when it comes to technology.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s research shows that, “The more you rely on general purpose technologies to invent, build, and deliver stuff you’re doing, the easier it is to scale.”

Special-purpose technologies, which may offer lots of impressive features, tend to add to complexity and can actually lead to more delays and capacity constraints. So think about how you can use standard functionality built into ERP, CRM, analytics applications, and other general-purpose software to execute on your scalability strategy.

The good news is, you can access a wide range of cloud-based business software designed to grow with you – quickly and cost effectively.