For a business, efficiency is the ability to make the best use of limited resources to maximize output and profit. A business that is able to achieve this on a constant basis significantly enhances its competitive edge.

This article takes a look at some key technological aspects you should factor into your business processes to increase your work efficiency.

Have several channels for communication

Limiting communications to just email and phone calls, will cause your business a lot of work delays, lost opportunities and revenue.

Many business today are embracing enterprise chat solutions, office social media accounts, mobile group chats and teleconferencing to enhance employee communication anywhere, anytime.

Make sure all your employees have smartphones. Today’s smartphones are more efficient tools for communication and collaboration than computers or ordinary mobile phones.

Invest in a managed IT solution

As an SME, you do not need to have a full-fledged IT department and IT infrastructure. With a managed IT solution, you and your lean IT staff can focus on core, daily tasks thereby making good use of your time and saving cost.

Managed IT services can include shared hosting solutions, managed VPS or managed cloud solutions. Cloud solutions are the most cost-effective for serious SMES. The security concern over cloud solutions is now more myth than fact.

With robust cloud server hosting services, you can always adjust and scale your solution as your business grows or changes.

Invest in a fast, reliable network

Your internet service and your hosting solutions should provide quick data access, all the time.

For internet access, find an ISP that is proven to provide fast and reliable internet access all the time.

For hosting solutions, it is safer to go for cloud hosting. Dedicated hosting is another option, but it is costlier and not really necessary for many SMEs. Shared hosting is cheaper and a viable option for smaller budgets, but is not as reliable as the others.

Whichever hosting solution you are going for, do not settle for less than 98% uptime and reasonably quick data propagation.

Slow data access and downtimes have wide-reaching and significant impact on your business.

Encourage telecommuting

Your employees should be able to work from anywhere through secure, remote access. Even large businesses with on premise or private cloud solutions allow employees access to the company network in some situations.

If your employees can’t perform important tasks outside the office, the lack of flexibility could cost you a lot of lead generation and revenue.

Note: If you want to make telecommuting a permanent fixture for an employee, here are some things you should consider

  1. Does the individual have the competency and self-discipline to work remotely?
  2. Does the individual have all the resources needed to deliver on tasks, all the time?
  3. Can all of the job be performed remotely? Collaboration and CRM solutions have made this increasingly possible.
  4. If security is a major concern – which is often the case – ensure that the working conditions of the telecommuter meet your security policies.

Invest in software solutions

Here are the basic solutions you should have:

Process Automation: Solutions that automate daily tasks are a must for SMEs. File management and record keeping, accounting, and predictable payments should be automated. Automation buys your employees time to perform more productive tasks that need human engagement.

Collaboration: Collaboration solutions enhance project management and productivity. With collaboration solutions, files can easily be moved from desk to desk in a second, acted upon as required and stored for easy retrieval. As an SME, simple collaboration platforms like Dropbox may be sufficient.

Human Resource: This solution should cover everything from employee records through payroll to employee assessment.

Investing in HR software helps you effectively manage all your employees from very few workstations. This reduces the number of HR staff you need to hire, speeds up HR-related processes and provides secure and up-to-date employee record keeping.

As your business grows and depending on its nature, you can invest in solutions for other processes like supply chain management, customer service, customer relationship management and ecommerce.

Technology has changed the way we do business and SMEs must take advantage of its many provisions to be able to compete favorably. However, the solutions you embrace must be based on proper assessment of its relevance and profitability in terms of ROI.