Better business data

If you're looking to streamline your business processes, there are a variety of software tools available.

For Mike Smith, finance director at telecoms company THUS, investing in billing software had the double benefit of improving sales and streamlining the accounts department. ‘The internal benefit is that it has meant going from six separate systems – which used to be a nightmare in terms of credit control and bookkeeping – to just one.

‘In the past, we would sometimes chase customers who had already paid because the payment was not recorded on all our separate systems straight away, which irritated them and wasted our time.’

Smith says it has also enabled the company to become more creative with its sales proposition. ‘It’s given our sales team a lot more ammunition. Without the billing system we would not be able to provide so many different deal combinations – to do so would have involved a whole army of people intervening in the manual billing process, which would have taken around two to three months at a time,’ he says.

David Breith, CEO of O-bit Telecom, had a complete overhaul of his systems with an enterprise resource planning programme: ‘We started developing the technology five years ago. Everything is integrated now so we can measure our customer relationships. We know exactly what calls are coming in and going out and can see how often an account manager is contacting clients.

‘We are now able to process around 10,000 orders per month, and if that was done manually we would need 30 staff. Before, we were spending around £20,000 a month on outsourcing [our IT costs]. We started the project as a way to eradicate those costs and the whole thing came to around £2 million.’

Inevitably, there were implementation issues as systems and processes take time to get right, but he says that the sweat and tears have been worthwhile: ‘In the early years the change may have held us back, as deploying software is never easy and it takes time to set up. But I would say it has been integral to our growth.’

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