Business owners often think an app is the key to going digital. In some ways, it is. But an app is not the be all and end all to doing business today. Here are 2 things you should know to get the most out of that app before you even build or buy it!
1. People still matter
Sure, technology and robotics are incredibly advanced, and only getting more and more self-reliant. Driverless cars already exist, and unskilled manufacturing jobs are on their way down.
But for now, people still matter – a lot. Ultimately, however good a software or product is, its usefulness really boils down to the users’ capabilities and willingness to use it to its full potential.
You may have all the best technology that money can buy, but what is the point when your employees aren’t making good use of it? You wouldn’t – or at least shouldn’t – pay hundreds of dollars for a smartphone if you only intend to use it for making phone calls and sending SMSes: basic things you can do with any old mobile phone on the market.
Likewise, great technology like real time analytics, a live chat bar, and a software system which can immediately send an order to dispatch goods can only go so far. How your employees use them is really the key to success. So what if you can see exactly when a customer needs something, if your warehousing and/or sales time cannot react immediately to that information?
User training and change management is essential to get your employees on board with your vision of a modern, digitally savvy and responsive business.
2. Get your departments in formation
Never underestimate the importance of integration: the whole is much more than a sum of its parts. Nobody really wants to think of themselves as a cog in the machine – but it is important to remember we do not work in isolation. Our actions affect the business at large, our colleagues, and other departments. Especially for brands – each part of the business must be in line with the overarching brand principles, goals, and image. The Biblical term “The Left Hand Shouldn’t Know What The Right Is Doing” certainly does not apply in business.
Ever had a thoroughly frustrating experience with a retail brand or service provider because departments clearly were not communicating effectively? Each employee and department has a different goal, and may thus provide you with different bits of information that may or may not give you a clear picture.
There are salespeople who can talk your ear off and persuade you to buy snake oil, but never actually even know what their product does or what services the company can really provide.
“You need it done in an hour? Sure, my colleague will get this done for you one half that time!”
But really, colleague B can only get it done in three, thanks to back to back tasks lined up for the day.
“You need functions A to Z? Of course we have it all!”
But really, he didn’t understand half of what you were saying, and intends to let the order fulfilment and aftersales department clean up the mess.
Sound familiar? These inaccurate messages may not even be their fault, but rather an oversight from top management. After all, a salesperson has KPIs to hit. For the sake of a company’s success as a whole though, you can’t just nab a sale and toss it to another department to handle it. If you cannot deliver what you promised why will they stick with you or send referrals your way?
Now think about it in terms of software. You could have a world class accounting system, inventory management system, and customer relationship management (CRM) system – and even a solid mobile app. But what’s the point if they don’t communicate?
Imagine your customers being shown 97 items in stock on your mobile phone app, only to receive a manual email several hours later telling them that the item was in fact sold out. Your app simply wasn’t updated because you have one team in charge of your website, another in charge of your app, and yet another in charge of your warehouse working on entirely different systems.
Making the most of your app
Many SMEs who decide to build an app usually don’t have a comprehensive backend system in place. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like SAP Business One helps you to get your departments in order before you even go about making an app. So your sales department knows what your warehousing department is doing, and finance can keep track of transactions as and when they occur.
All you need to do at this point is work with a partner who understands your needs and can build an app for you, or integrate your app with your SAP Business One system, to capture all your data and ensure all your teams – your website team, your warehousing team, and of course your app team, are all on the same page.
For B2B companies, ZiZu is a webshop system and app fully integrated with SAP Business One to make sure you get the most out of your business app. Grab the free factsheet below to learn more!
If you don’t need a webshop yet, but would still like an app which helps you to align your sales team with other departments, check out the mobile sales app.
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Note: This story has also been adapted for publication in Steemit.