Times have changed – let technology help your business adapt

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There is no escaping the new business world we find ourselves in, but the technology we have at our fingertips today can help companies flourish despite it.

The global business landscape has changed drastically, with no industry remaining untouched by the current pandemic. Government has introduced changes that have forced businesses to change how they operate, which has in many cases led to companies having to adopt new technology to effectively manage their strategies going forward.

As a case in point, most companies that are now using video meeting software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams to do contactless business, did not do so before the pandemic. Instead, business communication was largely carried out via email and face-to-face meetings. Current circumstances have steered businesspeople towards other means of doing business, and technologies that are proving to make business continuity not only possible – but effective.  

With the future looking set to be a case of business unusual for some time to come, companies have no choice but to rely on the technologies that are fortunately at our fingertips today, to allow for business to carry on as seamlessly as possible.

Innovation that allows commercial activity to be carried out as effectively as pre-2020, but remotely, is not only now instrumental – it is essential – for keeping the wheels of business turning.

How technology can help your organisation

SigniFlow’s software has been helping businesses conclude contracts and deals, communicate on a legal and compliant basis and remain completely remote while doing so since before Government instituted stringent lockdown measures.

Under the manual paper-based way of doing things, for important legal documents and contracts to be signed, you as the business would have to bear the costs of printing, postage, courier – not to mention the most expensive commodity of all, time – to complete the process. On top of this, the lack of security and assurance that the signing party was who they claimed to be, has always been a sore point in terms of risk management.

SigniFlow’s compliant digital signature and workflow technology allows businesses to circumnavigate all these issues. Steeped in cryptography, our software takes the speed and convenience of ordinary electronic signatures (to read about the crucial difference between electronic and digital signatures, click HERE) and adds a layer of protection onto it.

To find out how we can help your organisation conduct business effectively, while safeguarding against fraud and being internationally compliant, visit our website (https://signiflow.co.uk/ ) or email us at uk@signiflow.com.

Digital transformation in the face of fear

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A lot of the trepidation around digital transformation comes from misnomers & misunderstandings around what it is. We shed some light & offer professional tips to help make the process more doable than daunting.

Whether it’s because you don’t feel ready for disruption, don’t know how worthwhile it is for your business, or you’ve actually tried digital transformation before and failed, you are not alone in your fear of it.

IT experts regard digital transformation (also referred to as DT or DX) as an absolute necessity, given the globalisation and mobility that underpins modern-day business.

But, despite digital transformation being a vital part of companies’ future, many are resistant to it. Change can be scary. Digitalisation is new, daunting and often not seen by businesses as a necessity – and so put on the backburner or pushed to the curb entirely.

Undoubtedly, much of this fear factor stems from misnomers, myths and misunderstandings around what digital transformation actually is, and what it entails.

DX Debunked

To understand what digital transformation is, let’s first look at what it is not.

•             DX is not an immediate change; it is a shift in how you conduct your business – in the long term and going forward. Think of it like a lifestyle change, rather than a crash diet – which it’s no secret, never works.

•             DX is not an IT project; it is a fundamental and gradual paradigm shift that must be understood and taken on board by the entire crew. Businesses cannot designate DX to their IT departments and expect it to transform the way non-IT employees work. Maximum productivity and efficiency require maximum buy-in.

•             DX is not about hanging on to processes because they have worked and been effective in the past, because – in today’s business world – the case is quite the contrary. The “tried and tested” methods of yesterday are outdated, ineffective and cumbersome. This has been proven.

DX Demystified

DX is about how businesses use modern-day technology and processes, in conjunction with their resources, to optimise performance and deliver supreme value to the demanding and digital-savvy consumer of today.

US-based research company, International Data Corporation (IDC), describes DX as, “[The process of] applying new technologies to radically change processes, customer experience, and value.”

Echoing our earlier point that DX is not about solving new problems with old solutions, the company says, “DX allows organisations to become Digital Native Enterprises that support innovation and digital disruption rather than enhancing existing technologies and models.”

In one of SigniFlow’s previous articles, on customer satisfaction – which is one of the profit pinnacles of DX – we said, “Digital transformation is essentially the implementation of new technology and software tools, primarily reliant on cloud computing, to the end of solving problems and delivering solutions faster, with less operating inefficiencies and costs.”

“Organisations that have advanced to the ‘Digital Transformer’ stage are rapidly pulling away from the rest – creating the beginning of a rift that will ultimately leave organizations on either side of the thrivers or survivors.”

IDC

Top tips

Now that we’ve covered the what of DX, here are some pointers on the part that has many businesses befuddled – the how.

Founder and executive director of SigniFlow, Leon van der Merwe, and SigniFlow Americas CEO, Laila Robak, share some tips on how businesses should think – and go – about digital transformation. 

  1. More than IT: It is important to bear in mind that DX is not an IT project; it affects the entire business. DX should not be perceived as uniquely an IT project. We have seen this a number of time with our customers – DX projects are actually led by other departments, such as HR, Legal and Sales, which require efficient and safe processes.
  2. Total buy-in: You need to get buy-in from all stakeholders, from the get-go. Too often we see an IT or business department buying in to a digitisation project, only to find at a later stage that Legal, HR or Architecture were all affected by the project, yet knew nothing about it. This can cause major delays to the project, while implementation could have already started. Think about everyone who will be affected by the project and involve them from the start.
  3. Fear not: Don’t be afraid to take some calculated risks. Any project comes with associated risks and, no matter how much time is spent defining requirements, no one can never be 100% accurate. Adopt an agile approach and use CI/CD practices to minimise the cost of being wrong, rather than spending weeks – or even months – on trying to be right.  
  4. The human element: Nothing changes overnight, especially not people. Good DX systems simply assist humans to work more efficiently. The idea with digitisation is not to get rid of humans, but rather to make them more effective and accurate in their work, so the business can cope with expansion.
    However, humans take time to adapt, to understand and to learn the new processes that have been edged into their everyday lives. Once a process is automated, give the employees time to catch up and understand how things should be done going forward. Give them training and let them see how technology can help them do things better and faster than ever before.
  5. Digital nation: Instil a digital culture in the workplace. Ensure that a digital culture is promoted from the top, down. Put marketing material up against the office walls, promoting employees to “think digital”, even before digitisation starts. Most failed digitisation projects are as a result of employees and executive members not buying in. It is critical that everyone in the business sees the advantages of digitisation, and shares in the vision of the company.
  6. Rome wasn’t built in a day: Do not try to digitise the entire business in one go. Pick a few processes that make sense to start with, and digitise only them. As soon as employees start experiencing the advantages of the new systems first-hand, they will want more and will assist and push to have the rest of the processes digitised.
  7. Never-ending story: Digitisation is never done. Ever. Digitising processes takes time and – once this is done – improving on initial process designs is never-ending.

[REFERENCES]

  1. IDC – Digital Transformation (DX) Research
  2. SigniFlow – Customer satisfaction in the 21st Century: Is your business digitally equipped?             

E-Invoicing in the spotlight

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e-invoicing 20-8-2019 smOver 50 countries across the world are looking into implementing e-invoicing systems, thanks to the advantages of true electronic billing and invoicing.

Electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) was brought under the microscope in the United Kingdom in 2014 after the UK Government launched an inquiry into e-invoicing in the public sector, and announced e-invoicing initiatives to be rolled out by April 2019.

At the time, the MP tasked with the inquiry, Stephen McPartland, positioned e-invoicing as a technology that could streamline UK government admin processes “at a stroke”, saving the public sector and its suppliers a minimum of £2 billion a year. “E-invoicing could open up new markets throughout the country and help drive innovation and economic growth.”

This followed a new standard and directive on e-invoicing by the European Parliament in April 2014, which made it mandatory for all EU Member States to adopt a new e-invoicing standard. According to the directive, “all contracting authorities and contracting entities [are to] to receive and process e-invoices complying with the European standard”.

“We live in a world driven by digital innovation where efficiency and productivity benchmark new standards and expectations for business,” states McPartland’s report.

But what does this relatively new billing method – made possible by digital technology – entail, and could it live up to the expectations that have started to gain a foothold not only in the UK and Europe, but in countries all over the world?

A research paper, set to be released in the coming months by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), expounds how mandatory e-invoicing in Peru is helping increase firm sales and tax revenues. “Drawn by its potential to strengthen tax compliance and reduce costs, Peru is among more than 50 countries around the world to have implemented e-invoicing and many others are preparing to follow suit.”

About e-Invoicing

Essentially, an e-invoice is a statement created by suppliers and businesses to send to customers and clients requesting money. Typically, these are sent in PDF form and allow for circumvention of manual paper-based processes and physical paper documents that require a further set of physical procedures.

True e-invoicing – i.e. invoicing that is electronic in nature from start to finish – offers total automation, which in turn enables higher levels of efficiency and productivity, as well as significant financial savings in terms of resources.

Wikipedia defines e-invoicing as a form of electronic billing. “E-invoicing methods are used by trading partners, such as customers and their suppliers, to present and monitor transactional documents between one another and ensure the terms of their trading agreements are being met. These documents include invoices, purchase orders, debit notes, credit notes, payment terms and instructions, and remittance slips.”

The advantages of this system of electronic billing that over 50 countries across the world are looking at implementing, extend to both suppliers and buyers, and broadly include:

  • Process automation, which means time and money savings and, in turn, faster payment time.
  • Less disputes, due to the fact that invoice data is directly transmitted from supplier to customer electronically, creating a full audit trail.
  • Mitigation of human error, thanks to the high level of automation in the invoicing cycle.
  • Better supplier/buyer relationship and improved customer satisfaction, because processes are far more streamlined and reliable.

For more information on the automation of invoices and SigniFlow’s digital business solutions, visit our website, https://signiflow.com/, or contact us on the relevant number below:

International Contact Centre: 002710 300 4899

South Africa: +27(0)11-516-9403

Americas: +1-603-717-4248

United Kingdom: +44(0)208-611-2681

[REFERENCES]  

  1. European Commission – European legislation on e-invoicing
  2. Wikipedia – Electronic Invoicing
  3. Finextra – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, post Brexit
  4. European Union – eInvoicing in United Kingdom
  5. NHS – Is your organisation on board with e-invoicing?
  6. PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) – e-Invoicing explained
  7. NHS – NHS Shared Business Services eInvoicing Information Guide for Suppliers (PDF)
  8. Future-Focused Finance – eInvoicing: a win-win for providers and commissioners
  9. IMF – Electronic invoicing reform in Peru paying off
  10. Finextr – Electronic Invoicing in the UK Public Sector, Post Brexit
  11. tips – Electronic Invoicing: The next steps towards digital government (2014 Report following Inquiry into electronic invoicing (‘eInvoicing’) in the UK public sector.)
  12. EUR-Lex – Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement