We’ve all heard that automation of business processes is the next big thing. But what does this actually mean, and how can these automation tools benefit your enterprise, big or small? Read on as we discuss the concept of automation, define an ERP then dive into the operation-wide ERP tools provided by ZOHO. Are you ready? Let’s get automated!
Automation in modern business, including a detour into cloud technology
Business process automation is the practice of using technology or software to automate complex and redundant business processes and workflows. The ultimate goal of business process automation is to save manual effort, reduce costs, improve efficiency (read less human error), and optimize process performance. The positive impact on business operations and delivery speed has led to an uptick in the use of business process automation worldwide, especially in the entrepreneurial space.
Historically, automation required expensive servers and software and a team of experts to maintain everything. For many small businesses starting out, this was a costly solution that put automation out of reach. With the development of cloud-based platforms, however, automation tools are now accessible to even the smallest startups.
Opportunities to automate everyday workplace processes are plentiful and easy to implement, and automation is becoming a common element of every business. These processes include staying on top of customer service, automating invoicing or managing marketing campaigns more efficiently. As technology improves, more and more tasks will become candidates for automation. Startups looking to reduce costs, enhance efficiency, and streamline processes are all turning to automation.
However, easy-to-access business automation cannot exist without cloud technology. These two go hand in hand, as utilizing cloud technology ensures that any software or processes implemented are available 24/7 enterprise-wide. Gone are the days of disjointed and disconnected technology platforms that are unable to communicate and lack real-time reporting capabilities. When organizations marry cloud technology with automation software in an integrated environment, the result is greater overall efficiency, faster client delivery and improved data transparency and accuracy.
What exactly is an ERP and how does Zoho fit in?
Before we start on Zoho specifically, let’s look at ERP and what it is, and how it can support and facilitate organization-wide planning and control.
What is ERP?
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations.
In layman’s terms, ERP facilitates your company’s operations and planning across every department. ERP solutions improve how you handle business resources, whether it’s raw materials for manufacturing or man hours and salaries for human resources. Historically, ERP systems were used mainly by large enterprises, but these days smaller businesses looking to scale are increasingly using ERP systems and embracing automation for increased efficiency.
History: from MRP to ERP
The first ERP systems were found in manufacturing, with a system called the economic order quantity (EOQ) model, a paper-based scheduling system that helped to streamline the manufacturing process. This was replaced by the so-called material resource planning (MRP) tools developed in the late 1960s. These eventually became manufacturing resource planning (MRP II) tools. MRP systems were used to measure what materials are needed for a specific manufacturing process, how much is needed and when it is required, ensuring the highest production rate for manufacture. Modern ERP systems were widely adopted in the 1990s due to the rise of computer software being integrated with daily business operations.
Benefits of ERP
Before ERP systems, coordinating between multiple worksites took a lot of time and effort. If you wanted updates on a specific part of your business, you had to call or visit the site physically or risk losing access to vital data. Fortunately, ERP systems revolutionized workflow visibility. Now, with remote work becoming the norm, you can open a common database from your ERP suite to get real-time details and updates from any number of data points within your business.
Why Zoho software?
Zoho is a completely cloud-based ERP plug-and-play solution that is quick and easy to deploy. Because of its cloud-based design you are able to access Zoho from multiple devices, anywhere in the world. It is the perfect solution for the business owner or the workforce that is remote or constantly on the move and working from a mobile device. Above all, it is reliable and safe with almost uninterrupted uptime meaning it is an ideal cloud-based ERP. Ensuring that the technology you deploy is future-proofed means having easy access to the data that it manages and generates. Zoho has an open API which means that you are able to integrate with existing or future cloud systems or industry-specific tools.
Zoho deployed and implemented as a custom ERP solution gives a business the opportunity to use the same technology stack through its various growth phases. It is a user-friendly and powerful tool to manage all the activities of a business as and when they arise.
From sales and support to logistics and HR, Zoho offers solutions for practically every aspect of business administration. With the breadth and depth of fully customizable solutions, the Zoho app ecosystem can be tailored to fit a wide range of team requirements across various industries.
There’s nothing more frustrating than investing your time and energy in a software product that just doesn’t work for you. Maybe it has too many features, or maybe it doesn’t have the ones you need. Zoho offers customization so that you can alter the software to match your business’s individual process and financial requirements.
This software is designed to be flexible enough to fit into any workflow. You can also choose which features are visible on a dashboard so that your team only sees the ones that are relevant for their job. This not only makes for a less cluttered interface but also prevents confusion by allowing everyone on your team to use the exact tools they need without getting overwhelmed with options they won’t use.
One of the toughest challenges for a new startup is working with a limited budget—and we know it can be tricky to find products that meet all your needs without breaking the bank. From business chat to online invoicing to accounting software, Zoho tools will help you organize your processes and streamline your workflows, so you can take your startup to the next level without having to empty your budget. Zoho has a number of pricing options, ensuring financial flexibility for lean startups.
Ease of use
Zoho’s CRM dashboard is user-friendly, thanks to the ability to quickly toggle between classic, personalized and custom homepage views. The upper navigation bar puts many sales-focused tasks, notifications and features at your fingertips, but you can also add components and reorder your page to better suit your needs. Other helpful tools that are easily accessible from the top navigation menu include the ‘Feeds’ notification module. From here, you can communicate with remote team members and share your views to speed up the decision-making process — as if you’re all in the office together. It will also notify you when someone makes changes to a relevant lead or deal you’re following. When utilized properly, this area serves as both a system of record and a collaborative space to ensure that remote team members are always working on the same spreadsheet, no matter where they are physically. Now that we’ve convinced you that you need an ERP system, and highlighted the benefits of using Zoho, let’s see how the blocks actually fit together.
How does it work? Discussion of different functionalities within Zoho
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, a software system that helps business owners easily track all communications and nurture relationships with their leads and clients. A CRM replaces the multitude of spreadsheets, databases and apps that many businesses patch together to track client data. The result: organization, efficiency, better time management, and impressed clients.
All roads lead to Zoho CRM. One place to monitor and manage the relationships with your clients, both current and future. Marketing engagement is tracked to determine the ROI of your marketing efforts. Your entire team can access those details at the right time–to close a sale or deliver outstanding service.
Take your sales efforts a step further by interacting with website visitors. View potential clients landing on your website in real-time. Use the chat function to reach out to leads that engage with your products or services online.
Monitor the success of your website by activating PageSense. Review session recordings of your website traffic by device. See where people are clicking with the heatmap. Understand where to put calls to action from the scroll and attention maps.
Manage various social media platforms from one place. Schedule, collaborate and engage with content as a team. Understand the results with consolidated reporting and dashboards across all platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoogleMyBusiness, Youtube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more.
Build custom campaigns via email, SMS or social media. Segment your audience based on information housed in the CRM. Make use of the 100s of customisable templates or build your own from scratch with an easy drag-drop interface.
Zoho offers a vast array of services usable to anyone, whether a business owner or not. It can be used to implement various processes for products and services. Zoho provides many additional features and capabilities in its product details so that almost anyone, personal or business, can find a usable Zoho tool.
OCFO and Zoho
When building a house, one does not simply buy some bricks and start building, hoping that you will have a solid and stable home for you and your family. No. One first consults an architect to design the home, and ensure it is structurally sound, and only then does one start building
The same approach is applicable to systems implementation. OCFO’s team of systems consultants is here to support you in the design of your ideal business system in order to best support your business needs. Through a consultative process, our team looks at your current pain points, your nice to haves and even your dreams when it comes to creating your business systems or process automation.
Start with a Systems Gap Analysis process which outlines your ideal business system in detailed systems recommendation with an implementation plan and software and development costs associated with all your core business functions. Once designed, our team kicks into high gear and starts building/implementing your revised business system architecture. With the finance function at its core, our team leads the implementation of new technologies, tweaking existing technologies and or building brand new applications that are fully integrated with one another.
Based on the above approach, an organisation is enabled with a fully-fledged business system in the cloud, with no onsite services, expensive hardware infrastructures or lack of communication between systems. Whether you own a car or own a house, both need regular maintenance in order to run optimally at all times. The same principle applies to your cloud business systems.
As technology evolves, OCFO ensures that we provide continuous support in order to ensure that your automation services remain up to date, in line with best practices and updated with changes in technology protocols. This ensures that your business remains relevant in an ever-evolving marketplace and can better adapt to new solutions brought to market by competitors.
When you partner with Outsourced CFO, a finance and systems professional is personally matched with your company – working with you to create a world-class finance function for your growing company. Your success story is our success story. Contact us today.