By Jamie Stewart, Managing Director, Exact UK

Connecting the people, processes and knowledge of an organisation is a challenge common to many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). In an increasingly competitive business environment with mounting regulatory pressures, companies are searching for efficient ways to record, store and manage information.

According to a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 70 per cent of executives at SMBs believe that managing data across different silos represents ‘more than a moderate constraint’ to achieving their business objectives. Vendors are currently offering a plethora of tools that support the sharing of information, yet they struggle to function effectively. This leads to wasted effort, misunderstanding between divisions, and ultimately, to companies missing their business goals. Heavily burdened with regulatory constraints, collaboration needs to convert information into intelligent action.

Knowledge management tools are a critical component of collaboration for mid-sized businesses, supporting business decisions with up-to-date information on the performance of their company and the market. Collaboration allows different business units to communicate and share this information, enabling swifter decisions on key issues.

Today’s increasingly rigorous compliance requirements mean that companies are under more pressure to keep and manage accurate business records. But the amount of data produced can be staggering which means that many companies are struggling to get it properly archived. A collaboration system that features a single source of information makes compliance much easier and more attainable.

A core part of this infrastructure is the creation and maintenance of trusted data. Data is entered once, into a single database, and all transactions flow within that source. This creates an effective information management environment where information is delivered to the person - when they need it, and how they need it.

Most collaboration tools are designed to boost employee productivity. A project management solution gives employees access to relevant information such as availability of people and assets, time input and budget which can be used as a template for new projects, saving time and increasing productivity.

Working collaboratively allows people to better understand and connect with their customers so they can act upon current and future needs.

A collaboration solution that promotes cooperation between marketing and sales can help companies to better identify business leads. It can also decrease sales times, optimise hand-overs between marketing, sales and services teams, and ramp-up time for new sales personnel.

Software must also be easy to use. The best judges of this are the people who use the solution as part of their work. Ultimately, ease of use is about speed to return on investment: the faster a technology can be learned, the sooner the organisation can benefit.

Collaboration capabilities that are an intrinsic part of a system used every day minimises the risk that can stem from change. Best-of-breed solutions can make sense for the larger end of the organisational spectrum, where IT budgets and resources are correspondingly greater. But such solutions historically take considerable time to implement, driving up costs and extending the time to reach return on investment. Enterprise collaboration systems offer all of the elements necessary for successful collaboration, not by layering a set of separate solutions onto the existing business software, but by being a part of the existing core business data and processes.

Exact are one of the leading providers of scalable solutions which cover all key business processes, allowing your people to share information and collaborate in real-time on a single platform. As well as helping organisations grow, Exact’s solutions consolidate the processes of companies conducting business internationally.

Business on an international scale heightens the need for precise reporting and visibility; Exact offer a solution that is dedicated to giving a company’s HQ total clarity on the entire business, from foreign subsidiaries to localised trading silos. With many businesses still performing a lot of tasks manually, or utilising IT systems that don’t work together, this provides complete process visibility and helps ensure employees work together to add value to the business.

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