I find it quite disheartening to see companies not investing in technology to help run their business. Relying on manual reconciliation using tools like excel and various forms needs to be replaced with faster tech driven MIS platforms which are accurate, user friendly, reliable, cost effective and pack a mean punch. Some of the areas that I feel technology interventions are needed as a basic hygiene factor are-:
- Human Resource Management System – this is a system that manages the entire employee lifecycle from recruitment, on-boarding, payroll, performance management, capability development, skills tracking, employee surveys, data reporting, leave management, exit management, ticketing and queries etc.
- Project Management (also called Workflow and Job Allocation in many places) – this system is required to track the length and breadth of a project which includes data on commissioning, queries, scope, allocation, duration, time tracking, billing, stakeholder information, project status updates, red flags, escalations, project completion summary reports, quality management system etc. If the system has inbuilt triggers that flag incidents beyond a threshold, either by a pop-up or auto email, it helps reduce manual dependency on humans.
- Finance and Accounting – While the main component of this system includes the Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable functions, the system needs to be exploited for data on revenue, costs, procurement, billing, invoicing, ageing etc – and the eventual generation of the P&L reporting for the entity or function. It is important that the Project Management system has an interface into the Financial System to allow project billing and revenue information to flow into the invoicing modules and also allow for employee level productivity /efficiency data to be collated.
- Sales –Sales module is excellent for maintaining a track of all business opportunities including pipeline and status of opportunity, size and scope, deadlines, stakeholders, review scheduling, conversions, flagging, data generation, client database management, RFP and responses etc.
- IT Support – Information Technology support services plays an important role in ensuring uptime in any business. A support system is key to be able to log requests, maintain a repository on type of issues, allocate tasks for members of the team, maintain data on priority, escalations, time taken to fix, common issues and resolutions, knowledge management database etc.
- Other modules include Facilities Management, Inventory and Asset Management, Quality Management System(which is integrated with Project Management above), Document Repository and Scanning Solution, Knowledge Management System and some others.
For smaller companies, I recommend the following flow to move towards automation. First, start with a Finance Interface and link the same to a Project Management system for accurate information on financial data. Next, would be the HRMS to maintain visibility of all employees and make the jobs of Managers and others easier, followed by IT and Sales. Depending on the budgets that a company has to invest in an online platform, the sequence can be slightly tweaked, but in my view 1,2 and 3 continue to hold the most importance in any business.
Typically people would like to invest in an off the shelf product, but if you have an inhouse development team, you can actually build the system using a cloud hosting solution, and link the same to a mobile app interface(put in some AI e.g. chat BOT’s and animation to keep it interesting). The advantage of using your own team allows for costs to be kept in check, and customisations
to meet the specific need of the business. Please do ensure that the inhouse team is replete with technical skills in terms of process mapping, design, programming, testing and hosting. I have built such platforms in two organizations, and I must share that the gratifying feeling once a product goes live, assumes astronomical proportions as users commit to a solution that is built with their feedback and involvement.