Brendan Flattery, managing director, ERP, at The Access Group, discusses why technology that facilitates collaboration will be vital as businesses recover from the pandemic
As business leaders, the one thing we dislike more than anything is uncertainty, yet throughout the pandemic we have shown how efficient we are at adapting, learning and creating opportunities in the most challenging of times.
Long before Covid-19, a proliferation of technology was creating new possibilities for organisations, the recent need for innovation has changed business in ways we could never have imagined – in some cases, overnight.
Take Telemedicine – the delivery of key medical services via phone – as an example. Until the pandemic, 95% of doctors’ appointments were carried out face-to-face. The impact of Covid has led to an acceleration in engaging with doctors remotely – a change which was anticipated to take more than 10 years to evolve, but happened in the space of just weeks.
And although some sectors, such as the travel industry, have experienced a severe downturn over the last 18 months, others have thrived. Online-only brands saw a huge surge in growth in May last year, when the country was in the midst of its first lockdown, and internet retail sales as a whole saw similar growth.
Being able to respond to this growth has required many organisations to scale up at an incredible rate – and technology has stepped in to help. We’ve seen a significant increase in small retailers and third-party logistics organisations looking to automate their processes, from customer orders through to delivery. Implementing our order management and courier integration solution, Access Mintsoft, is supporting these organisations to manage their orders, inventory and shipments to deliver a quicker, slicker customer experience.
These are just a couple of examples of how technology is supporting new ways of working, but it also demonstrates how every organisation’s narrative is unique. Not every business is going to be about big, sweeping changes, and simply looking internally at how departments and functions collaborate could also be key to the recovery roadmap.
HR and finance are two areas that are ripe for a technological overhaul and many of their functions already overlap, from the onboarding of new starters and payroll to managing absence, expenses, client billing and health and safety training logs.
By combining all of this data in one system, there’s the opportunity for employees to shift outside of the day-to-day administrative function and focus on areas that deliver more strategic value. The insights HR and finance teams can offer could be a game-changer for any firm looking to maximise resources and increase profitability – they just need the time to focus on them.
HR holds data that can influence business strategy, including information on employee loyalty, details on recruitment trends, on culture and productivity. HR metrics can also enable finance to make important decisions on budgeting and resources. Equally, the alignment of HR and finance lets departments see the bigger picture – what impact will the cost savings suggested by the business have on employee wellbeing, motivation and churn?
Collaboration and alignment across departments not only helps drive strategy but also improves mutual understanding, maximises opportunities and mitigates risk. For this reason, businesses want to invest in a finance management system or a workspace for HR teams that connect to each other and other areas of the business. In a recent survey carried out by The Access Group, over 90% of respondents in organisations with over 500 employees said that it was very important that their finance and HR software came from one provider, which dropped only marginally to 77% for smaller organisations with 50 to 500 employees.
An integrated, single sign-on solution for the entire business is an option that many organisations are exploring to meet this growing need. They allow individuals to self-serve the insights they require to perform their roles and break down the silos that create barriers within a business. The strategic agenda can be cascaded and communicated throughout an organisation with blended insights, enabling people to access what they need, when they need it and, ultimately, to inform better decision making.
Investing in holistic technology solutions must be a fundamental part of the post-pandemic world as businesses look to collaboration and integration to boost productivity, wellbeing and ultimately fuel growth.