10/09/10

By Chris Jones, CEO of PageOne Communications

Following the UK government budget statement and the confirmed rise in VAT to 20% it is clear that the SME community will need to tighten belts and be resourceful to absorb rising costs. For more than 12 months, the mantra of ‘more with less’ has been rippling through the sector as management prepared for the impending realignment. Now that the scale of exactly how much less is evident, organisations are being put under increasing pressure, particularly from Financial Directors, to action instant budget cuts whilst still being expected to maintain a high level of efficiency. Technology is often the area for suggested cuts. However, Chris Jones, CEO of PageOne Communications argues these cuts in technology could be detrimental to the long term growth of your business and explains how properly deciphering the business benefits of various technologies in place beforehand can reveal the most cost efficient solutions.

Let’s look at the area of business continuity as a key example. At first glance technology within this area may seem a luxury or ‘nice to have’ that can be discarded when cuts need to be made. However, on second glance this technology could actually be the difference between your business going under or staying afloat should an interruption of business occur. More importantly, in such a difficult climate, it also opens doors when it comes to bringing new customers on board. It is also important to emphasise that business continuity has grown in stature since it first emerged, and it is not only common sense to have a plan in place but developments such as the first British standard for business continuity — BS25999 — has heightened the need for businesses of all sizes to implement one. For SMEs working with the public and finance sectors, having an effective business continuity plan is actually a prerequisite to doing business with a number of desirable suppliers and potential customers. Plus, even those that don’t specify it as a requirement are more likely to work with you rather than a competitor if you can prove you’ve thought ahead and have a plan in place for should the unexpected occur.

SMEs may be pleased to know that a business continuity plan doesn’t have to involve an expensive system divorced from the everyday business processes. In fact for many SMEs, the solution to doing more with less within this area simply involves further deploying current forms of technology that are already used within the business. For instance, messaging is already widely recognised as a way to engage with staff and customers, and provided the product used is robust enough, can also be used in an emergency situation. For example, PageOne’s flare suite offers organisations a dedicated web-based messaging solution with the required reliability and resilience needed to be suitable for day-to-day or critical communications. Using the same system for both functions also holds a number of advantages to driving further value out of your existing investment in technology. If the solution is used on a daily basis then staff will already be familiar with it, no further training will be required and users will be able to respond quicker to warn and inform the appropriate individuals or groups in the event of a major incident.

When actioning cuts in response to a tough economic climate it is important to think carefully about the long term impact on your business. Cutting IT and shelving business continuity plans may seem like a great way to achieve an immediate cash injection. However, such a decision could prove damaging and even prevent your organisation from delivering real business value in the long run. Effective investment in technology is a tried and tested formula for streamlining business processes to work more effectively with fewer resources. So why not take a closer look at the forms of technology you already have at your disposal and ask how it can work harder and deliver greater value to your business as a whole?