The top 4 software implementation process challenges getting in the way of a successful project

As challenging as it may feel at the time, you and I both know, closing a new software implementation deal is only half the battle. Once that’s done, you have to actually deliver your project on schedule, within budget, and to a satisfied client… which in our industry can be easier said than done.

Failing to deliver the best outcomes for your client in the software implementation process, can often result in negative word-of-mouth, lack of referrals, and a loss of repeat business. Which is why it’s important to be aware of your biggest obstacles on your path to a successful implementation.

In this blog, I’ve compiled a list of the most painful software implementation process challenges I’ve observed in my time working with software implementers across Australia and New Zealand.

1. Scope creep is hijacking your revenue

Scope creep refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope, and in the software implementation environment, this is extremely common. By failing to clearly define, document, or control the scope of a project you’ll be left to deal with unsatisfied clients and escalating costs eating into your revenue.

Another common reason for scope creep is a miscommunication between your sales and technical resources in the selling process. Your sales team is likely to get ahead of themselves, and make optimistic promises in order to close a sale. While this may get the job done in the short-term, it’s more than likely to significantly damage your chances of successful project delivery by setting your customer’s expectations too high, and dooming you to under deliver on your promises or cut into your margin to keep them.

2. Outdated software implementation processes are holding you back

Whether your software implementation processes are defined by the development organisation, or are those that you’ve developed yourself, it can be hard to compete with the best practice implementation practices of larger software alternatives.


Knowing just how many business are affected by such challenges, I’ll also be hosting a webinar specifically on how to overcome these software implementation challenges. Register for the webinar here.


3. Lack of support and training from your vendor prevent you from maximising your client’s ROI

Delivering a project without sufficient training from your software vendor can seriously impact the end result for your client and your team. Hearing some of our partners recount previous experiences has shown us that many software vendors fail to be a true partners in the implementation process.  So, you’re helping them earn all this revenue, and in return, they leave you bearing all the risk!

Without comprehensive training in the products you’re implementing and the right level of technical support from your vendor, your staff will likely be ill-equipped to advise your client on how to get the most of their software. This will ultimately affect your clients’ ROI and impact their perception of your teams’ capabilities. In addition, this can be very demoralising for your staff, who no doubt pride themselves at being great at what they do, but held back from doing so due to limited training.

4. Your product offering does not meet client expectations

As your customers become savvier, the importance of an innovative software offering is essential to ensure a successful project delivery. If your clients are not excited by your software in the beginning, it’s not going to get any better the deeper you get into your implementation. Mostly likely, the software is too limiting, too outdated, or just not user-friendly enough to meet their actual requirements. And as a result, no matter how smoothly the implementation project goes, you’ll find yourself struggling to meet your client’s expectations.

 

If you’ve been affected by these challenges in 2015, and want equip yourself with the tools to overcome them in the new year, register for our free webinar, Growing your Software Implementation Services in 2016 on February 17th 2016 from 12PM to 1PM AEDT (11AM for Queensland, 11:30AM for South Australia, 9AM for Western Australia)

In this webinar, we’ll show you how to:

  • Use the right mix of sales and technical resources to clearly define the scope of a project;
  • Develop a fool-proof implementation roadmap;
  • Get your software vendor involved in configuring and refining the product for your client; and
  • Identify areas that will deliver maximum ROI for your clients.

Register for the webinar

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on working with accountants and professional services providers to help their clients tune their businesses by leveraging cutting-edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain further efficiencies within their business while boosting your own revenue, click here to register for our upcoming webinar to see just how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business and your own.

How the best graphical business reporting tools help you make better decisions

Growing beyond your spreadsheets

Before we get into a discussion around graphical business reporting, take a few minutes to think about your business. You probably already know:

  • What your best-selling product or service is?
  • Which customer buys it most often?
  • Which region it sells best in?

But are you thinking about how all this impacts your future strategy?

Most companies spend so much of their time just compiling their data into vaguely readable reports that they end up spending barely any time analysing them.

As you know, the real value of reporting lies in the analysis and insights that provide you with a deeper understanding of your business, which ultimately allows you to make better decisions.

This is where graphical reporting tools come in.

Software that can easily convert your operational and sales data into comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and accurate representations of your data allow you to spend time on what really matters – drawing the insights. So when it comes down to decision-making time, you aren’t just playing a guessing game, you’ve got the data and the reports to back you up.

So what should good graphical business reporting tools help you do?

1. Visualise and understand your data easily

Most people hate trawling through rows of numbers trying to make sense of their data. The right business reporting tools will be able to easily convey complicated information to you and your staff through descriptive graphs and charts, and easily facilitate your decision making process as a result.

So if you’re wondering how your sales team is performing, or where you need to be dedicating more marketing resources to – your software should be able to show you instantly.

HARMONiQ’s Control Desk shows the importance of graphical representation of your data

This report generated by HARMONiQ’s Control Desk shows the breakdown of sales of your top-performing product categories, so you can instantly tell what’s performing well – and what’s not.

2. Integrate with your other systems to give you a whole-picture view

Information in isolation often doesn’t deliver anything insightful. Good reporting covers all aspects of your business, including Operations, Inventory, Financials, Sales and Marketing.

Businesses often request reports from each department, and then have to figure out how they work together, but this is usually time-consuming and labour intensive. To overcome this issue, look for a reporting tool that will seamlessly integrate all your business systems and compile this information to create reports with company-wide visibility.

3. Quickly deliver a wide range of reports to inform key business decisions

The most attractive business opportunities usually don’t give you enough time to ponder over pages and pages of reports. Sometimes you just need to quickly access some data to be able to make an informed decision on the fly.

Let me show you a few examples.

The Sales Analysis Dashboard below highlights the top six customers by net sales value. Now, most managers would put their top sales reps on these accounts. I, however, would argue that that would be a waste of talent and opportunities.

Instead, you could be using this report to determine your next best customers, and dedicate your most senior sales resources to ‘up-sell’ and ‘nurture’ these customers to same level as your best performing ones.

HARMONiQ Sales Analysis Dashboard shows your top performing customers

HARMONiQ’s Sales Analysis Dashboard shows the breakdown of your customers by net sales value, highlighting the top six. Use this report to determine your ‘next best’ customers with the intent of nurturing them to generate as many sales as your top-performing clients.

Now with the click of a button, this report can change to show me what products my customers are buying. A report like this would be valuble in quickly determining what you should stock, how much, and when you need it by.

It could even transform your entire selling strategy – giving you the clarity you need to specialise in your best-selling product categories, or challenging the viability of others.

HARMONiQ quickly drills down the report to show specific products your customers purchase, allowing you to make strategic decisions about what to stock and when.

HARMONiQ quickly drills down the report to show specific products your customers purchase, allowing you to make strategic decisions about what to stock and when.

And there’s even more…

With the Regional Analysis report, I can quickly show myself a breakdown of sales by geographic location – instantly showing me which areas I’m the most profitable in, and which places could use a little more love. This can help inform key decisions about the viability of office locations, whether you should consider opening new branches, and where you should be dedicating extra sales resources to.

HARMONiQ’s Regional Analysis can easily show me how sales are doing across various geographic locations and inform decisions around hiring and resources.

HARMONiQ’s Regional Analysis can easily show me how sales are doing across various geographic locations and inform decisions around hiring and resources.

With the click of a few buttons you can easily determine what you should be selling, to whom and where – with the data to back up your decisions. What’s more, you don’t have to scroll through lines and lines of numbers to figure it out.

It seems that every business management software can do some sort of high-level reporting. But where things get really interesting – and valuable to your business – is when your software can provide the detail and clarity you need to make key strategic decisions for your business.

If this level of insight seems exciting – I can assure you, it never gets old! There is actually a lot more HARMONiQ is capable of, and I would love to be able to show you.

If you’d like to see how HARMONiQ can drill down these reports to deliver even more gems of insight let me know below and in 15 minutes I’ll show you what HARMONiQ can achieve for your business. You can also call me on 0412 421 350 or email me on drew@harmoniq.com.au if you’d like to get in touch.

See HARMONiQ in action

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business.

How the right business management software can keep your clients from outgrowing your services

Growth is good: it’s what we want for all our clients. But business growth also brings with it a lot of change. As you know, when a business grows they find themselves rapidly acquiring more customers, hiring new staff, and requiring access to more and more data to inform their decisions.

While everyone wants to grow, many businesses are poorly equipped to actually deal with these changes. Chances are they’ll find themselves becoming increasingly frustrated, and hitting numerous brick walls with their existing processes and software. Growing pains aren’t just for teenage boys.

The challenge we’ve noticed many professional services providers have is that they design their service and solution around the current state of their clients’ businesses. However, as all good client relationship managers know, you need to keep your eye on their over the horizon developments, so that you can remain relevant and continue adding value, as their business grows.

Often, great professional services businesses are constrained not by their ability to deliver value to their clients, but the software platforms they’ve aligned themselves to.

Many providers choose to align with simplified, minimalistic software that is the lowest common denominator in the market. This is fine if you only ever want to work with solopreneurs and start-ups, but even then, you run the risk of not being able to grow as these clients grow.

Others hang on to ageing legacy software that are way past their ‘stock until’ date, and become irrelevant to their clients as a result.

So how can you retain your growing clients and continue to play a crucial part in driving their ongoing success?

While working with many growing SMEs in Australia and New Zealand, a few stood out to me as stellar examples of how a growing business can minimise disruption and disorder in their business. A lot of it usually came down to the type of technology they leveraged, and how it enabled them to plan, manage, and sustain their growth for the long term.

So here are four specific things a software platform built to enable growth will allow you to do to deliver additional value to your clients:

  1. You can design the solution to work the way your client works

One-size-fits-all software doesn’t really fit any business and is easily outgrown. Instead, the best software for growth is one that can be designed to perfectly fit the needs of the business using it, incorporating all parts of their business into one platform. So any addition of more users, departments or customers to the system will always be easily handled across all aspects of the company. And if things drastically change, (as they often do in business), the software can easily be reshaped to suit a new structure.

  1. You can equip your clients’ staff with the tools to be more productive and efficient

Technology can be both a time saver and a time killer. The most valuable business platforms not only make day-to-day tasks faster, but can transform the way your clients do work completely. For example, a clever workflow automation function can quickly trigger notifications, automate quote follow-ups and generate insightful reports on anything from inventory levels to supplier performance.

Another feature to look out for is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). This ensures all customer and prospect data is captured in one location, equipping your client’s staff with the knowledge to have the most effective sales conversations.

Overall, the right software platform for growth should be easy enough to use that it saves your staff time day-to-day, but also powerful enough to generate advanced automation rules to eliminate simple manual tasks, and allow staff to focus on sales and growing the business.

  1. You can give the decision-makers the answers they need.

A business that’s planning for growth needs to be able to analyse past data and predict the future performance. But generating the sophisticated and detailed reports needed for this can take time. Some companies even employ a full-time business analyst just for this task, but few SMEs can afford such an expense.

The right software platform should allow your clients to produce advanced business intelligence reports based on data from all aspects of the business, such as financials, operations, inventory and sales. Not only will you and your clients have better visibility over how the business is performing, but by allowing the system to handle a lot of the manual tasks and drudgery, you’ll also save having to do them yourself.

  1. You can improve the experience for your clients’ customers.

In addition, growing businesses often find it challenging to keep up with the demands and expectations of their increasing customer base.

To help your clients deliver effective and reliable customer service, look for a business management software solution that includes a comprehensive CRM feature. We talked about how a CRM can help make your client’s lives easier – but it also ensures their customers have a seamless and positive experience with their service. It will have the capacity to capture all of their customer information, previous orders, complaints or issues– allowing your clients to provide the exceptional customer service, all the time.

Also consider sophisticated marketing capabilities as a key criteria when making your choice. This allows your client to ensure that their customers stay well informed, by being able to build and send beautifully branded emails. So look for a platform that allows for easy segmentation and email marketing features.

While a lot of this blog discusses how poorly suited software can hold a business back, with great advice and great technology, we’ve seen software play a huge part in helping businesses achieve and exceed their growth targets.

Recognising this, we designed a Business Tuning Software that was built specifically to help generate and sustain growth for small to medium businesses, called HARMONiQ.

With HARMONiQ you can add value to your clients’ businesses by:

  • Implementing a software that is entirely customisable to their needs, and is built to grow with their business;
  • Providing their staff with one source of truth for all customer information, and an easy way to manage their follow up tasks and provide personalised customer service every time;
  • Implementing powerful automation workflows to save staff time, encourage efficiency, and transform how the business operates;
  • Giving them visibility over various aspects of their business by generating reports incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules;
  • Tracking key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing them to forecast their outcomes and make more informed decisions, and using hard data to back your own recommendations;
  • Ensuring their customers stay engaged and satisfied using sophisticated eMarketing integration with Campaign Monitor to send personalised, branded emails with built-in reporting capabilities.

I hope these thoughts will assist you in helping drive growth for your clients and give you some ideas about what you should be looking at to help you do so successfully.

The combination of powerful software and your expertise will no doubt empower your clients to achieve and sustain growth, and also keep them from looking anywhere else for advice and growth during this challenging time.

If you are facing any of the issues I’ve written about above and would like to discuss, please call me on 02 9542 2000.

 

See HARMONiQ in action

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on working with accountants and professional services providers to help their clients tune their businesses by leveraging cutting-edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain further efficiencies within their business while boosting your own revenue, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business and your own, or get in touch.

How SMEs are using software to transform their sales processes and drive more revenue

Many SMEs are still reluctant to invest in CRM (customer relationship management) software, perhaps thinking that such tool are generally more suited to larger businesses.

Luckily, this is no longer true. While CRM may have started out as an enterprise-level tool, today there are solutions built specifically for SMEs and their unique requirements. And savvy businesses are putting them to work, and experiencing fantastic results. According to data from the US, on average a CRM generates a $5.60 return on every dollar spent. How’s that for ROI?

By dismissing CRM software altogether, businesses are overlooking a powerful solution to many common problems faced by SMEs, such as:

  • An unreliable sales process with misplaced leads, forgotten tasks, and neglected opportunities;
  • A disorganised and uninformed salesforce that has little access to customer data; and
  • An incomplete picture of business performance with no visibility of various aspects of the business.

In my experience helping SMEs across Australia and New Zealand to implement and operate the right CRM software for their business, I’ve noticed some significant improvements to their overall sales process and the health of their pipeline.

In this blog, find out how you too can reap the benefits from the right CRM software.

Drive more sales with a more reliable and efficient sales process

As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure all leads are captured and followed up promptly.

I often hear of businesses who are challenged by a lack of quote follow up, especially for low-value deals. Whether it’s your sales team running out of time, or simply forgetting to follow them up, it means consistently leaving money on the table and missing out on opportunities for more revenue.

The right CRM can help you instantly rejuvenate the top of your sales pipeline with clever, automated quote follow ups.

By creating a set of simple rules and triggers in your CRM, you can instantly generate, send, and follow up with quotes, making for a seamless experience for your customers, while also saving your team time and effort.

Clever automation helps you deliver a consistent and reliable sales process, and ensures that no deal is ever overlooked.

So how do you capitalise on the same benefits in your business?

Look for a software solution with effective and customisable workflow automation, to ensure all tasks, whether low or high value, are completed efficiently by your team.

Encourage more demand with more effective customer interactions

Customer-centricity is almost the buzzword for businesses these days. But for many small businesses, putting their customers in the centre of all their businesses processes seems easier said than done. For starters, most businesses don’t even have a central location for all their customer data, with everything stored all over the shop – on different systems, spreadsheets, or even in email inboxes.

An effective CRM helps businesses capture all their customer data in one location, and then puts this information at the fingertips of their sales, marketing, finance and customer service teams. With full access to current and historical data, your team is instantly armed with everything they need to know about your customer – what they buy, how often they purchase, and any past issues they’ve experienced. This allows your staff to have the most valuable and effective conversation with each customer, and increase the probability of each sale.

Some CRMs will even let you go a step further, letting you segment your customers and prospects into different groups to help you execute targeted marketing campaigns relevant for each segment to generate even more demand and fill up your pipeline.

To deliver the best experience for your customers, look for software that captures all your customer data in one easy-to-access location, and comes with sophisticated email marketing tools to drive demand.

Make better decisions for your business with valuable analysis and insights

Almost all businesses I have worked with have had some level of reporting and analysis in place. However, in some cases this just means a spreadsheet and some formulas. Very small businesses could probably get away with this very manual and error-prone method of business intelligence, but if you’re growing your business beyond that point – it’s just not going to cut the mustard.

As a business grows, more data needs to be collected from more departments, and more people become involved in the decision making process.

By using software to integrate all aspects of your business, such as accounting, inventory, sales, marketing, and operations – you can streamline the way you collect and analyse data. Sophisticated reporting tools can then generate detailed representations of the data to report on everything from your staff KPIs, sales pipeline, and even supplier performance. Armed with these insights, you’ll be better equipped to make more perceptive decisions for your business growth.

If you’re looking for a tool that will help you better visualise how the various aspects of business are performing, look for a CRM with sophisticated Business Intelligence tools to help you discover insights into your data that were hidden from you before.

I’ve worked with a number of businesses who have faced the same challenges outlined above, helping them transform their sales pipeline and generate more revenue by using innovative software solutions, such as  HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software.

HARMONiQ is a unique platform that allows you to:

  • Automate simple selling and sales support tasks, such as sending follow up emails for quotes, or setting reminders for follow up calls;
  • Provide your staff with one source of truth for all customer information, and an easy way to manage their follow up tasks and provide personalised customer service every time;
  • Seamlessly segment your contacts, create targeted marketing lists, and ensure your contacts get emails with messages targeted specifically to them, which can be customised to suit your branding;
  • Integrate various aspects of your business by incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules into one easy-to-use solution;
  • Track key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing you to forecast your outcomes and make more informed decisions

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise your business processes to improve your sales pipeline.

As a truly customisable and scalable software, HARMONiQ ensures that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to achieve significant efficiency improvements in your business, please call me on 02 9542 2000 or email me at drew@micronet.com.au.

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

How businesses are using CRM software to overcome challenges and improve productivity

As you are no doubt aware, there are many challenges working in today’s SME environment. Not only do you have to effectively manage the day-to-day business operations, you have to do so with markets that are increasingly competitive, and buyers that are more and more demanding.

As we’ve seen happen all too often, many businesses sink under the pressure of these challenges. But not all of them.

Having worked with many businesses across Australia and New Zealand, I’ve seen first hand – in a variety of contexts – the three most common challenges faced by businesses like yours, as well as the steps they took to overcome them with the help of a little clever technology.

Challenge One: “I’m losing out on revenue due to poor follow up of quotes”

One of the most common challenges I see is the inability to consistently follow up on quotes. Since many sales people lack the time to individually follow up on all quotes that go out, they usually end up prioritising the ‘easy’ sales, such as return customers, and neglect a lot of good opportunities.

Few things are as frustrating as poor processes holding up the progress of a business – especially when it means letting a whole lot of new business and revenue slip through your fingers.

Many business just hire a few extra hands to deal with the influx of quotes, but that’s a Band-Aid fix for a more serious problem. If you’re looking to fix a broken sales process, you need a solution that can empower your existing staff to become more productive, ensure the best possible experience for your customer, and guarantee scalability to grow with your business.

Businesses looking to solve a lack of quote follow-up have commonly implemented the following best-practices with impressive results:

  • Simplify your quote follow-up process with automated responses for low-value quotes, letting your sales team concentrate on the bigger sales, while also providing a seamless experience for all your customers;
  • Allow your staff visibility over all communication to customers, ensuring no one is ignored or followed-up with twice;
  • Set up triggers and notifications to ensure your team is capitalising on all opportunities and nothing falls through the cracks; and
  • Monitor KPIs and sales performance using robust reporting and analytics tools that allow you to track and improve your team’s success.

Observing the success of these practices, we’ve built HARMONiQ CRM complete with clever customisations and powerful features to take the mundane tasks out of your sale process, while empowering your staff to stay focused on generating revenue. It also integrates with your existing Micronet Distribution Software to provide you with the full breadth of information available in your business.

Challenge Two:  ‘My marketing chews up too many resources by being time-consuming and complicated’

One of the most common complaints I hear about marketing is that many businesses lack the time to do it. In my experience, effective marketing includes segmenting your audience, either by industry, products purchased, or location, and sending them personalised content tailored for their needs. But if you lack a sophisticated email marketing platform, that’s usually a time consuming process.

For example, one of the businesses I worked with had a process that involved several databases and spreadsheets, and relied on staff to manually de-dupe and segment the lists. Not only was it laborious, it was also technically complicated and prone to errors.

To eliminate the manual processes around marketing, best-of-breed businesses have implemented software that can:

  • Seamlessly send data from your existing databases to an email platform, complete with the ability to segment your contacts, create targeted marketing lists, and ensure your clients and prospects get emails with messages targeted specifically to them;
  • Help you stay top-of-mind with beautiful email templates, which can be customised to suit your branding; and
  • Give you visibility over how your marketing is performing, tracking your engagement to see exactly which campaigns generate the most sales.

Recognising the increasing importance of email marketing to our clients, we built HARMONiQ software with a seamless integration to the email engine Campaign Monitor. This exciting new feature allows you to easily and efficiently send beautifully branded, personalised and customer-centric content to your database – with no more importing and exporting of lists.

Challenge Three: “My digital clutter is out of control”

We collect so much data about our day-to-day business activities that it can be quite overwhelming to try and do something with it. A common challenge is finding a way to collect, store and analyse this information in a way that doesn’t cause digital clutter.

What’s more troubling is that our information is stored across a variety of systems, such as email inboxes, spreadsheets, or databases, with no link between them. With no single source of truth, your staff are probably wasting time switching between systems to find answers, duplicating data entry efforts, and providing you with little whole-picture visibility over your business.

Where I’ve seen businesses excel at killing clutter is ensuring by leveraging a single system that lets them:

  • Combine data from all existing platforms into a single source of truth for all customer and operational information;
  • Integrate various aspects of your business by incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules into one easy-to-use solution; and
  • Use sophisticated reporting and analysis tools to track key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing you to forecast your outcomes and make more informed decisions.

Not only does digital de-cluttering save your staff time, but it also gives your data context in a way that allows you to make more informed and intelligent decisions for your business.

To help you on your journey towards being clutter-free, HARMONiQ CRM integrates directly with your existing platforms, such as Micronet Distribution Software and Microsoft Outlook, to compile all your business information into one simple, easy-to-use platform. What’s more, its powerful reporting tools allow you to get insights from your business data like never before.

If you find your businesses dealing with any of the above challenges, and  are interested in finding out what specific steps you can take to overcome them, please call me on 0412 421 350 or email me on drew@micronet.com.au to see for yourself.

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business.

How to take advantage of a changing software industry change to drive sales

It’s no big secret, the landscape of software sales is changing – your buyers want a platform that does more for less, and faster. So ask yourself, what are you doing to effectively cope and adapt to these changes?

Having worked with many software implementers across Australia and New Zealand, a few key themes have emerged when discussing the challenges they currently face. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes they were making:

  • Many software implementers rarely modernise their product offering to meet the changing needs of businesses, leaving them trying to sell outdated legacy products to a market that’s just not interested anymore.
  • As CEOs and GMs become increasingly involved in IT investment decisions, their sales teams aren’t equipped with the right resources and training to sell to a different kind of buyer. By getting caught up in the technical features, they forget to, or simply can’t, demonstrate ROI and value to the business that these buyers crave to see;
  • They have outdated implementation and support models that fail to meet the speedy expectations of today’s buyers.

While many companies were often aware of their weaknesses in this evolving market, some actually avoid doing anything about it. What usually happens then is their pipelines become bare, they lose existing clients to the more innovative providers, and their revenue slowly begins to dry up.

That’s definitely not an appealing outlook for any business. So how do you avoid making the same mistakes?

I’m going to share with you an idea so simple, but so astoundingly on the money that it may blow your mind a little… give your buyers what they want. A simple idea, but so many businesses just don’t do enough with it.

Based on what we already know about today’s business software buyers, they want to see;

  • Ease of use and convenience;
  • The ability to customise the product to suit their needs;
  • A guaranteed ROI; and
  • A quick and painless implementation phase.

Try to sell an outdated legacy product to one of these buyers – my guess is you’re probably not going to get past the first half of the demo.

If you want to appeal to a modern market, you have to provide them with an innovative and compelling product, something that’s going to get them genuinely excited about the benefits it can bring to their business.

HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software is one such product that could reinvigorate your business. With HARMONiQ, you can rely on:

  • A beautifully designed and user-friendly interface that never leaves a buyer unimpressed;
  • Seamless integration of all your clients’ key business functions, including financials, BI, inventory and marketing giving them full control and visibility in one convenient platform;
  • The ability to give your clients a choice between on premise hosting or the increasingly popular option of hosting on the cloud;
  • A true partnership that provides your team with the training and resources to equip them with the skills to effectively advise your clients on best practices for getting the most out of their software to deliver ROI;
  • A scalable solution that will continue to grow with your clients, and with HARMONiQ being a licensed product on a subscription-based model, there is a great opportunity to reap long term benefits from a single sale; and
  • A comprehensive implementation roadmap, with access to a panel of 3 professional HARMONiQ consultants to provide advice on every project, to guarantee you the smallest implementation footprint and fastest customisation times in the industry.

You’re probably thinking, “This all sounds great, Drew, but I’m not just going to take your word for it.” Fair call, I probably wouldn’t either.

Which is why I’m offering you the chance to see HARMONiQ in action. Put HARMONiQ to the test in a live, interactive, one-on-one session with me, and see for yourself if HARMONiQ could be the answer to meeting your buyers’ long list of demands and expectations in today’s market.

Register your interest using the form below, email me at drew@micronet.com.au or give me a call on +61 412 421 350 to arrange a one-on-one HARMONiQ trial.

See HARMONiQ in action

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on working with accountants and professional services providers to help their clients tune their businesses by leveraging cutting-edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain further efficiencies within their business while boosting your own revenue, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business and your own, or get in touch.

 

4 ways Australian businesses are leveraging process automation for competitive advantage

In competitive industries such as manufacturing, distribution, or wholesale businesses, continuing to rely on how things have always been done can be the fastest way to being left behind.

While operational change can be daunting – it can often involve a significant investment of time and finances – the benefit of updating your processes and leveraging the right technology, greatly outweigh such costs.

While working with many Australian businesses to help them take some innovative steps towards process automation, I’ve observed some impressive examples of how they are leveraging technology for competitive advantage by:

  • Increasing staff productivity;
  • Streamlining their reporting;
  • Better managing suppliers; and
  • Improving customer satisfaction.

I’ve compiled a few of them here, so you can find out how to spend less time on manual and administrative tasks, more time on income-generating activities, and also become more effective at driving revenue for your business.

Here are 4 clever ways businesses are using technology to their advantage:

1. Use systems that integrate rather than isolate

While I’ve just talked about how technology is the best way to improve efficiency in your business, it’s important to remember that the wrong technology can also be your downfall.

While it may be necessary to have a variety of different systems providing point solutions, having multiple systems working in isolation can create a range of inefficiencies, such as having to:

  • Import and exporting data between systems;
  • Enter the same data multiple times;
  • Deal with errors and inconsistencies; and
  • Make decisions without whole-picture visibility of your businesses.

Businesses that use software that integrates all aspects of the business (accounting, inventory management, customer service, eMarketing, etc.) can easily identify, and eliminate instances in which staff duplicate their efforts, make errors, or repeat data entry. It also provides staff the opportunity to use a single sign on. So you can minimise time wasted on these mundane and easily automated tasks.

Ask your software vendors if they can offer you the ability to automate the integration of your key business systems. While this is not the ideal solution – managing multiple integrations between solutions can become quite tedious as a business grows – it can make a real difference in the short term.

If your software vendors can’t deliver such integration, or you want to get it right from the word go, ensure that any business management system you implement provides a single platform for all your key functions to achieve optimum efficiency, visibility, and control.

2. Outsource your reporting – to your software!

Monitoring your KPIs through robust reporting is a great way to ensure your business stays on the right. But to do this, you often need to dedicate significant resources towards data compilation and analytics.

However, savvier businesses know that this doesn’t always have to be the case. You no longer require a full-time staffer to crunch the numbers, conduct analyses, and keep you on track. You can make your business management software do it for you!

By making full use of their reporting tools, leading businesses generate reports to ensure their financials are on track, to hold sales staff accountable for their targets, and to generate pipeline analytics. So not only do they track how they’ve done in the past, they also use data to plan intelligently for the future.

If you already have a business management system, make sure you’re fully utilising your range of reporting tools. If not, make sure that a strong reporting and analysis capability is part of what you demand in your next business management software investment.

3. Proactively encourage better service from your suppliers

In industries such as your own, it’s quite common to deal with numerous suppliers every day. And I’m sure you’ll agree it can be quite laborious to chase them up every time you’re out of stock, or they’re overdue on their deliveries.

Best-of-breed businesses have found ways to simplify this altogether. Here are a couple of examples of how businesses have leveraged their software to manage their suppliers more proactively:

  • Whenever they are out of stock, the system will automatically trigger an email to the supplier, and can even send reminders if the shipment if not received by a certain date.
  • Another solution is to set up a DIFOT (Delivery-In-Full-On-Time) report that ranks suppliers according to their performance. The right system should not only automate the generation of the report for you, but can also send a notification to your suppliers to keep them motivated to deliver the best service to you.

These are a few examples of set-it-and-forget-it tasks that can encourage improvements in the level of service you get from your suppliers, while also saving time for your staff. And of course, while this particular example relates to supplier relationships, this is far from the only application for such automation.

4. Keep your customers engaged with regular communication at minimal effort

Businesses frequently rely solely on staff to action follow-up tasks and respond to customer enquiries, but on occasion, a task will fall through the cracks, an opportunity will be missed, and your customer service record may be compromised as a result. In a situation where you depend heavily on referrals and return business, this can be a serious problem.

This is where I’ve seen businesses that use their CRMs (Customer Relationship Management systems) intelligently achieve significant advantage in customer satisfaction. Some examples of what they do:

  • Automatic follow-ups to quotes;
  • Targeted emails to touch base with existing customers every few months; and
  • Prompt repeat business by triggering personalised follow-up emails to customers who have deviated from their usual buying habits.

By using a CRM to automate these tasks, you could be saving time and effort for your staff, while also continuing to maintain meaningful relationships with your customers and driving increased sales!

As strong advocates for automation, we’ve helped businesses leverage technology to increase their efficiency and profitability with our HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software.

HARMONiQ is a unique platform that gives you:

  • Integration between various aspects of your business by incorporating accounting, inventory management, sales orders and customer relationship management modules into one easy-to-use solution;
  • The ability to track key performance metrics, as well as pipeline analytics, allowing you to forecast your outcomes and make more informed decisions;
  • Visibility over inventory and supplier performance, and allows you to automate tasks such as generating alerts for out-of-stock items or late deliveries; and
  • Automation of simple selling and sales support tasks, such as sending follow up emails for quotes, or setting reminders for follow up calls.

These are just a few of the ways HARMONiQ can help you optimise your business processes. As a truly customisable and scalable software, you can leverage HARMONiQ to drive significant efficiencies, while also ensuring that the software will continue to grow alongside your business.

If you would like to discuss how you can start leveraging great technology to achieve significant efficiency improvements in your business, please call me on 02 9542 2000.

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory, and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.

5 things to look for in a CRM to help you communicate with your customers regularly

Our customers are changing: they are more informed, more demanding, and have far higher expectations than ever before. So, how does one keep up in this new customer-driven environment?

You must become customer-focused in your approach to business. And given the rapid pace of change in our market, you can’t afford to put it off any longer.

There are many ways you can achieve customer-centricity, but one very important part, which may often be overlooked is maintaining regular contact with your client base and prospects in a way that they value.

It may sound like a lot of work, but the benefits speak for themselves. A number of our businesses who interact frequently with their contacts shared with us that they:

  • Enjoy being top-of-mind with their client base;
  • Lose fewer clients to competitors in between sales; and
  • Achieve overall higher customer satisfaction.

However, as you can imagine, the journey to get there isn’t always easy. Without knowing what exactly to look for in a CRM and their associated processes, some of these businesses found that maintaining rhythmic contact with their buyers could be time-consuming and laborious. Some challenges they faced include:

  • Contact details were stored in a number of systems, and trying to compile information on existing customers and prospects was a nightmare;
  • They lacked a platform that allowed them to automate their emails, so sending regular emails had to be done manually every time;
  • Their email templates were visually unappealing and could not be customised to suit their brand; and
  • Their sales teams lacked visibility over the communication sent to customers by the company – so they couldn’t tell who was getting too many emails, and who was yet to receive a response.

Since then, we worked with these businesses to help them meet and exceed the expectations of their customers by using the right technology. And let me share with you what I shared with them…

The right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool can help eliminate the pain traditionally associated with customer-centric communication, by enabling you to easily communicate with your database, personalise the content they receive, and track their engagement – automatically!

So here are the things to look for in a CRM to help optimise how you communicate regularly with your buyers. It must:

1. Integrates with your existing systems to eliminate manual processes

A solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing platforms is a huge benefit and a timesaver. It means that data collected in one platform is easily transmitted to the next, eliminating the need for re-entering data or juggling multiple spreadsheets of contact details.

2. Allows for customisation and branding

The right solution will allow you to easily personalise your messages, and let you put your own stamp on your content with customisable email templates and branding.

3. Segments your database for tailored communication

Software that allows you to segment your contact list based on factors such as their location or previous purchasing habits adds another level of customer-centricity to your sales process. Not only do your customers receive regular messages from you, you can ensure that it is content that’s specifically relevant and useful to them.

4. Measures success and continuously improve

Intelligent technology can provide you with visibility over how effective your communication is. By measuring the level of engagement for every email you send, you’ll know exactly what works and what doesn’t – with statistics to prove it. Armed with the right data, you can continue to improve your communication to achieve better results and generate more revenue.

5. Streamlines your sales process

Maintain all your communication with your leads, customers and suppliers in one place, so your Sales teams can tell exactly which people are ripe for follow up. Set automatic follow-up tasks and reminders so your staff never miss an opportunity to generate more revenue.

Realising just how significantly regular contact with customers can impact your bottom line, we wanted to make the move towards customer-centricity as easy as possible for our clients.

While HARMONiQ CRM already integrates seamlessly with Micronet Distribution System, as well as other commonly used tools such as Microsoft Outlook, we’ve now added sophisticated eMarketing into the mix!

We’ve integrated our CRM with leading email marketing provider, Campaign Monitor, allowing you to easily manage and optimise your email marketing in an interface you’re already familiar with.

As a result, with HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software you can;

  1. Seamlessly send data from your Micronet Distribution System into HARMONiQ CRM, segment your contacts, create targeted marketing lists, and ensure your clients and prospects get emails with messages targeted specifically to them.
  2. Stay top-of-mind with your contact list with beautiful email templates, which can be customised to suit your branding. Choose from a range of user-friendly, customisable and mobile-responsive designs to suit any marketing message or audience.
  3. Get visibility over how your marketing is performing. Track your engagement directly in HARMONiQ CRM and see exactly which campaigns generate the most sales.
  4. Eliminate the manual processes around contacting your entire client and prospect database. You may never have to export or import a spreadsheet of contact details again!
  5. Provide your staff with one source of truth for all customer information, and an easy way to manage their follow up tasks and provide personalised customer service every time.

Here’s what one of our customers had to say about how HARMONiQ has helped his business:

“We have found HARMONiQ extremely useful and couldn’t do without it. In comparison to our last system, which was very restrictive and limiting, HARMONiQ is highly customisable and very user friendly and has been a great assistance in making our company more system driven.”

Martin Waite
Customer Service & Marketing Manager
UNEX Systems

If you would like to find out how you can leverage HARMONiQ CRM to better manage your customer relationships, please call me on 0412 421 350 or email me on drew@harmoniq.com.au to experience the system for yourself.

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business.

5 common software implementation nightmares and how to wake up from them

There is no doubt that providing software implementation as part of your service mix can offer significant value to your clients and also be a great way to generate revenue for your business. At the same time, depending on the software you offer and the requirements of your clients, delivering a successful implementation can be quite challenging.

Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of software implementers and others who offer implementation services as part of their value proposition.  During our discussions, I’ve heard a number of themes emerge in terms of the challenges they face most frequently as well as those that have a significant impact on their business.

1. “Scope creep is overtaking my implementation projects”

Scope creep – also called requirement creep or feature creep – is a project management term that refers to uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. And in the software implementation environment, this happens all too often.

This is likely to happen because the scope of a project is not sufficiently defined, documented, or controlled, or because the processes in place to ensure that these tasks are appropriately completed are also poorly defined.

The trouble with implementing software that is developed externally is that you’re often dependent on the software company to provide the procedures that drive the implementations. Even when they are provided, these developer-provided implementation guides will likely have a number of shortcomings that leave you compromised. Such as:

  • Poorly matched to your environment;
  • Lack of detail to be truly effective; or
  • Devoid of any real support from the software company.

As a result, many software implementations are doomed from the word go, with implementers left to deal with scope creep, unsatisfied clients, and escalating costs.

2. “My sales people are overpromising and that’s setting me up to fail”

Another common reason for scope creep can be salespeople getting ahead of themselves. Whether you sell your own services or have a dedicated salesperson or team, you know that there’s been at least one occasion in which ‘optimistic promises’ were made in order to close a sale.

While this tactic may prove fruitful in the short term, it’s likely to significantly damage your chances of successful project delivery in the long run. Even when a project is completed, if the salesperson has overset the customer’s expectations, referrals can be difficult if not impossible to obtain, further restricting your growth.

3. “We’re struggling to implement software with minimal input from the vendor software company”

Implementing software for a partner business should require the software vendor to actually be a true partner in the process, but often that is just not the case. Such one sided relationships can leave you facing all the risk, but then having to share the rewards.

4. “Our implementation processes can’t compete with alternatives”

Whether your software implementation processes are defined by a developer, or are those that you’ve developed yourself, it can be hard to compete with the best practice implementation practices of larger software alternatives.

As customers become savvier, the importance of well-defined processes are growing and it’s not just to ensure successful project delivery. Many implementers find that an effective and proven implementation process is a key criterion for buyers making software investments, and may be an important factor for closing deals over larger competitors.

5. “Our product training is insufficient to deliver an outstanding implementation”

Trying to struggle through a software implementation without sufficient training really is a nightmare. While your team may consist of especially smart people who can work out a lot on their own, without comprehensive training in the products they’re implementing, your staff may:

  • Not be able to deliver against client expectations;
  • Embarrass themselves in front of clients; or
  • Become disenchanted with the work they are doing.

What a nightmare! Can someone please wake me up?

Helping Channel Partners hit the ground running with their implementation projects gets special focus at Micronet, and here are some of the best practice insights we share with our partners to help them meet and exceed their customers’ expectations (and in the spirit of practicing what you preach, I’ve also included examples of how these specific practices are applied to HARMONiQ).

Develop a detailed implementation roadmap for your software

If the software company has failed to provide sufficient implementation guidelines, it may still be worth an investment of your time to develop the documentation templates and procedures to support your efforts.

I recommend getting your sales and implementation teams together in a group, and collaboratively workshopping the specifics based on your experiences. However, have one person own the task of compiling and documenting the outcome to ensure it is actually completed.

Our HARMONiQ partners receive a comprehensive documentation pack along with detailed templates to capture all of the customer’s current state and requirement information upfront, with room for customisation based on the specific situation.

This proven methodology allows them to minimise risk for themselves and their customers, while also setting expectations for a project they can actually deliver successfully.

Sales people shouldn’t be the only ones who sell

What we’ve found, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that the sales process for a piece of software and its implementation requires a collaborative effort between the sales people and the technical team. While selling skills are essential to closing a deal, having a technical influence involved earlier in the process can help:

  • Set realistic customer expectations;
  • Accurately answer customer questions; and
  • Develop a relationship between the customer and their implementation team early on.

With HARMONiQ, the software implementation roadmap always includes a three-way discussion between customer, sales person and technical resource at a key stage of the buyer’s decision making process to ensure that a business’s own sales tactics don’t get in the way of their delivery.

Partner with software that takes being a ‘partner’ seriously

When you’re looking for software vendor to partner with, ensure you take into consideration their commitment to the partnership from the very beginning. Because of the size disparity between your business and theirs, it is unlikely that this dynamic will change over time.

The HARMONiQ implementation roadmap includes a three-person panel from Micronet Systems consulting on the specifics of each implementation. Each member provides their own unique expertise to complement that of our partners. Our current partners share with us that this is a unique feature of being a HARMONiQ Channel Partner, and one they especially benefit from in the early days of their partnership.

Elevate your implementation processes to best practice

Best practice implementation processes don’t have to be limited to the enterprise-level solutions on the market. In fact, having a high standard of quality in your implementation methodology can be a significant competitive advantage at any level on the software spectrum.

As you may be aware, HARMONiQ is a mid-tier software that offers its users a breadth and depth of functionality at a truly affordable price point. However, when it comes to our implementation processes, we don’t give any excuses. Developed in line with the practices of best of breed implementers, HARMONiQ’s detailed implementation plan is designed to offer our partners with an end-to-end roadmap for delivering successful implementations for their clients.

Partner with a software company that offers comprehensive training

Another important consideration when choosing a software to partner with is the level of training they provide. Talk to your implementation staff to ensure that they feel confident with their knowledge of the software they’re implementing. Should any gaps arise, try reaching out to your software partner for further training opportunities.

At the beginning of a partnership with HARMONiQ, each Channel Partner receives three days of comprehensive training, covering all aspects of the software as well as the recommended implementation process. In addition, they also receive ongoing training and support with particular focus on hands-on assistance during initial implementations.

In fact, our next partner training session is happening in Sydney this August and is open to you as well. If you are considering taking on board a new software product as part of your solution suite, or would simply like to learn more about how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can deliver value to both you and your clients, we’d be delighted to have you attend. Please contact me on 02 9542 2000 or email me on drew@micronet.com.au to find out more.

Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on working with accountants and professional services providers to help their clients tune their businesses by leveraging cutting-edge technology. If you want to help your clients gain further efficiencies within their business while boosting your own revenue, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to their business and your own, or get in touch.

Towards true customer-centricity in your business

What you missed if you didn’t attend the CeBIT conference this year

By Drew Arthur

We’re back from the CeBIT conference and there’s so much we’re keen to share with you. It was a big three days with a stellar line up of inspiring speakers and a vast expo, featuring some of the latest innovations in technology today. Read more