Systems are the lifeblood of your business. Developing efficient internal systems and processes will enable your business to run more smoothly. Whether it comes to managing your customers or your staff, systems such as CRM and payroll can make your life a lot easier and reduce business headaches. So what are they and how can they help your business?
CRM stands for customer relationship management and, as the name suggests, it is a term used to describe the management of your clients and customers. CRM applications are generally used by the sales, marketing and customer service departments. Every business has a CRM, whether it’s a database of business cards or hosted software like SaaS. A well structured and thought out system can make all the difference and improve productivity in your business, as well as strengthen customer relationships.
In the sales area, CRM applications offer a number of benefits such as providing a consolidated view of all sales opportunities, with the ability to forecast future revenue stream with greater accuracy. In the marketing area, CRM applications help manage marketing campaigns and monitor individual leads from capture to closure. They also help determine which campaigns are generating the highest returns. In the customer service area, they can help to give an overview of a customer’s complete history as well as provide answers to queries that can be easily obtained from the centralised database.
In general, a good CRM system should:
- Store a customer database
- Link with your email system
- Link with a calendar system
- Let you set reminders and prompts
- Generate reports on activity
- Tell you when you need to contact customers
- Provide a history of customer activity
- Integrate with the invoicing system, allowing you to generate bookings
Often many small businesses are slow to adopt a CRM application as it requires a change in the culture of the organisation. If the people who accumulate the day-to-day data in the business keep it to themselves and don’t enter it into the centralised CRM database, then there is nothing there for managers and other staff members to use. Many CRM applications fail for this reason alone.
But, if managed and implemented correctly, a CRM application can provide innumerable benefits to the organisation. Such benefits include:
- Centralises the data so management can better control it and see everything.
- Gives management the ability to track progress towards meeting revenue targets in real time rather than relying on data in weekly or monthly reports.
- Removes ad hoc data recording element and offers some insurance in the case of a sales representative leaving, ensuring that their leads and data don’t leave with them.
Another thing to consider when it comes to a CRM application is whether you want to purchase hosted CRM software – otherwise known as SaaS (Software as a Service). By way of background, businesses can buy in with little or no financial or technical risk. The software is paid for like a utility bill, so there is no huge capital outlay on hardware and software, and little IT skill is required to get started. In addition to this, the SaaS provider automatically performs upgrades and maintenance.
Another system vital to the running of your business is payroll. While there are many factors involved in running a successful business and maintaining good relationships with employees, payroll is one of the most important. It might be your biggest expense, but it is a critical process that must be performed on time and accurately, not only to pay employees, but also to handle regular reporting to various government agencies.
At the heart of any payroll system is your payroll software. This software services your business in many ways. These can include:
- Services office administration in making the payroll processing easier
- Services employees by dispensing pay in a timely manner
- Services the manager/business owner by providing management reports to help you meet legislative requirements and protect you from legal action or penalties for making incorrect or under payments.
Before you buy a payroll system there are a couple of things you need to consider:
- Do you actually need one? If you have a workforce of less than ten it is not advisable.
- What types of features you would like your payroll to contain. For example: calculating commission, salary, electronic tax filing etc.
- What are your pay frequencies?
- What types of employees do you have? (e.g. temporary, part-time, full-time)
- Awards and payroll requirements (e.g. payroll tax)
- Integration of the payroll system with accounting software
- Technical support, training and testing the software before you buy
Once you have figured this out, the next aspect to consider is your staff. There is nothing worse than having staff that doubt the accuracy of your payroll system. It is important that your employees have confidence in your payroll system and how it is administered and managed.
Employees have a legal right to receive accurate pay, a pay slip containing not only their gross wage and deductions but complete details of what they are paid for, entitlements such as leave balances and RDOs, and superannuation payments made on their behalf. From your business point of view, the link between your payroll capabilities and employee satisfaction highlights the importance of managing the process accurately and effectively. If there is one piece of software that has the capability of affecting employee relations in a negative way, it is your payroll software. Good payroll software should be transparent and should do its job in an effective and timely manner.
There are a number of great resources out there to help you with your payroll requirements. A good place to start is the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries website. They have developed an Employers Payroll Information Kit, which provides employers, HR and payroll staff with all the essential information about employees’ wages and conditions. The kit covers off payroll records with details and examples of all records that must be kept, taxation and superannuation, termination payments, worked examples and sample forms, practical guides for payroll staff for pay and record keeping and tools for management control.
Systems are a vital component of your business. Having strong business systems in place will ensure the smooth and effective running of your business operations.