Prospect to cash: the raison d’être. Today’s small to medium businesses, (SMEs) face the continuing challenge to win more business, more quickly; to provide quality products and services to their customers; and to keep cash flowing by invoicing and collecting money on time. And to do this, they need visibility of all areas of their business like never before.
The key areas of the business taking it from prospect to cash are:
Marketing — It’s vital to track the cost of marketing activities such as campaigns. Most importantly, SMEs must be able to accurately measure the return on investment of each initiative by understanding which generates the most valuable leads in terms of both volume and revenue.
Sales — SMEs need to understand their sales cycle and ensure they have the processes in place to maximise all new business opportunities as efficiently as possible. Sales leaders need real-time and accurate sales forecasts and the ability to manage pipelines effectively.
Customer Service and Sales Operations — Both of these areas are responsible for the smooth execution of processes which directly influence the customer experience, as well as helping to realise revenue. This includes confirming, processing and delivering customer orders and credit checking and supplier management. These departments must also ensure that they deliver flaw-less customer service and react quickly to customer queries.
Finance — an integral part of any business, this department manages accounting transactions including raising Invoices and collecting cash both on time and as efficiently as possible.
Technology: a Business Enabler
SMEs are in business because they have a core skill-set that they bring to their customers. Good at what they do common sense dictates that they should spend the lion’s share of their time providing the products and services that will generate revenue rather than on managing the day-to-day processes that make the wheels of their business turn.
SMEs need to rely on technology to underpin and manage business processes for them. Yet the reality is that many organisations — not just SMEs — are operating with one arm behind their back; they do not have the technology backbone to achieve the efficiency and transparency required to reach business goals.
Islands of Information
Smaller enterprises in particular don’t always have the luxury of investing in integrated business solutions like SAP or Oracle. Often, the only option available is to implement standalone applications for each part of the business: Excel spreadsheets or Sage for accounting, Outlook, Goldmine or Salesforce.com for sales and marketing, etc. Before long, business data ecosystems can look worryingly like this: standalone applications that very quickly become ‘islands of information’ which don’t ‘talk’ to each other; and which carry data duplication.
The problem for many business leaders amongst large, midsize and small companies alike is where to go for up-to-the-minute status reports on business health. This level of transparency is necessary for informed decision making. Each of these disparate applications carries some of the required information, but to create a consolidated view often requires multiple spreadsheets to be ‘sliced and diced’ before it gives the manager the information they need.
Consolidate To Win
Now more than ever businesses must anticipate and react instantly to changes in market conditions and customer demand. In the time it takes one business to pull the necessary data and information together, its competitor could have already acted on its own intelligence.
The answer is to consolidate all business information on to one technology platform supporting the entire business.
This means ONE data source for all customers, prospect, partner, supplier and financial information and ONE platform to drive all business processes; from prospect to cash.
The result? A business where everyone has Visibility of all the information that is relevant to do their job effectively. A business where managers can freely access real-time dashboards showing the status of the entire organisation and make informed business decisions.
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