Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Business Management Solutions
How BMS software can be a vital tool in organizational effectiveness
In the manufacturing sector and in many large businesses, tools abound for helping businesses run better. By better, we are looking at the ability to avoid double steps, maximizing the use of resources, reducing the number of steps and costs with processes and perhaps creating a track record of activities that happen in and around the business. To what end?
The simple answer is cost savings. These software solutions are enablers; they enable the business to do more with less.
If you recall, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007, he spoke about it in terms of being able to do more with less. He talked about how technology has changed the way that people do things, beginning with the Mac, the iPod and rounding out with the iPhone – the device that combined the phone, access to the internet and iPod – an enabler – “revolutionary” as he called it.
Looking at Business Management Solutions that large corporations use, they combine a number of functions, ranging from customer relationship management, vendor management, sales pipeline management, online sales and enterprise resource planning. Companies like Oracle, Netsuite, Sage and other providers have developed – and continue to develop fantastic solutions that continually raise the bar in this arena.
Problem is, they aren’t targeting smaller companies and thus, their pricing and delivery models are not appropriate for smaller ventures.
Benefits of the Business Management Solution
As an Operations-focused person, my goal is always to look at the way businesses operate and to figure out how to make the business operations better. No easier way to say it.
What I see, quite often, is that businesses will have a number of different software solutions that don’t talk to each other, have overlapping functionality and, as a result, often position themselves to miss out on opportunities.
For example, you might have a website that collects leads. Those leads are emailed to somebody. It is up to that somebody to follow up on that lead and perhaps put that lead into the sales automation tool. You will probably want to put that person’s information in a marketing automation or newsletter tool. Ideally, you will have some solution that will let you know when that lead is back on your site and when they are opening up emails you have sent. When you get that lead to sell, you’ll have another software to put the sale into, which, hopefully, will account for your business. Then the sale is delivered, perhaps using a project management platform. Additional sales are…get my point?
The goal of the business management solution is to simplify all of that – put the entire customer engagement into one machine, so you use the BMS solution to put a form on your site which captures lead data and automatically puts it into the sales automation tool and the marketing automation tool. When that lead turns into a client, you simply convert them within the tool into a client and manage collecting fees, accounting for the sale and commissions and finally project management/product delivery. If there are add-on sales, you can quite easily manage them through the same system.
In other words, the BMS is like the Swiss Army Knife of the business world. The great thing about it is that as a small business, larger, more complex solutions are already tried and tested by the largest companies in the world, so a scaled own version of the same should be nearly a no-brainer.
There are several downsides to nearly every BMS solution on the market, one being setting it up and using it. Experience has taught us that this should not be a deterrent. The cost savings alone will justify the startup investment.
Another downside is that it may not play as nicely with some of your old tried and true software solutions that you feel that you just cannot give up. Sometimes, those secondary solutions have tools and options that you just cannot get into your BMS. Use the BMS as your central or primary tool; most have some type of API or Zap that can be used to help it talk to other solutions.
Another is going to be commitment. Getting into a BMS is going to be a commitment for your organization. All of your company data is going to go into it and you are going to use it to run your operation. Therefore, make sure that it is the best solution for your organization. Frankly, the switching cost is high.
There are lots of solutions on the marketplace that bill themselves out as BMS’s. Note: Not all BMS’s are created equal. Because a solution has lots of add-ons doesn’t mean that it is a BMS, nor does it mean that those add-ons will work the way they intended. Worse, yet, the question begs to be asked – whose responsibility will it be to update, adjust, get support when the whole bag of rocks suddenly stops working. Don’t be fooled.
The last one I will mention is actually going about the selection process. As mentioned, not all BMS’s are created equal. The word of caution is this, from my very first CRM project – for an existing business, you want a system that will allow you to operate the way you do – only better. Therefore, you want to customize the solution for the way your company works, not change the way your company works to support the software.
A number of years ago, we had a client that needed this sort of tool. So we designed one. Basically, we walked through the Company processes, examined the gaps, decided which areas technology would be an enhancement and designed it to be handed over to developers. This was before a decent, cost-effective solution was available.
Before we started building, we did some more research and ran into a solution called WORK[etc], a BMS in its infancy. What we liked and still like about this solution is that it is highly customizable, the support is fantastic and development is ongoing. It works with us the way that we do business. It is very scalable and adopts to many different scenarios we have thrown at it. The question for us many times has been more along the lines of “how can” rather than “if we can” do something. The company CEO, Daniel Barnett, has a habit of listening to his clients and is very much involved in ensuring that our needs and interests are being met. As as a result, we are raving fans.
That doesn’t suggest that there aren’t other real BMS solutions on the marketplace, nor does it mean that you should drop everything and switch to Work, etc. – although you might. What it suggests is that any conversation about how to make your company run better and faster is one that should be had. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly, but one that should be seriously considered if you are planning on building a company that is extraordinary.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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