If there is one thing that has revolutionised how small, medium, and emerging businesses in India operate today, it is digital technology and software solutions.
The pandemic caused many businesses to shift to a digital-first strategy to ensure business continuity. From accepting digital payments to using business automation solutions, to building a digital marketing plan for online promotions, the transformation was rapid and necessary for seamless MSME growth.
As the world moves towards a new phase of recovery and growth, we witness a distinct shift in how businesses function and adopt new technologies and business software for growth. There are many various kinds of software for business.
In this article, we discuss how small business owners can adopt digital technologies and software for optimising processes and digitisation. We also look at the benefit of software solutions and how a digital-first strategy can be leverage for better project management, team collaboration, compliance, efficiency, and cost-savings.
1. Finance and accounting software to keep books in check
A finance and accounting software for billing and invoicing is one of the first tools you should get for your business. These tools are designed to streamline the accounting and bookkeeping process, document relevant financial data (vital when applying for business loans and finances), keep track of cash flow and working capital, organise taxation data and more.
While there are several financial solutions that you may consider, the key is in selecting the right tool that would enable you to automate business processes and stay efficient. Some tools to consider would be:
- Software for cash flow management (eg. CredFlow) to keep businesses cash-rich and financially stable by automating payments collection
- Software for GST billing and accounting (eg. Vyapar) to generate GST compliant invoices, track payments, cash flow, receivables and payables, and more
- Software for efficient working capital management (eg. Early Pay) to enable businesses get early payments against approved invoices for a minor discount
2. E-invoicing software for compliance
If you are a SME with an annual turnover of Rs. 20 crores and above (for B2B transactions), you are already familiar with e-Invoicing system under GST and using a software to generate e-Invoices. From 1 October 2022 the threshold for GST e-Invoicing will extend to businesses with over Rs. 10 crores in annual turnover, to include more businesses into the GST regime. e-Invoicing software is a great way to keep track of your business transactions.
The government in its initiative towards digital transformation has introduced several new reforms (eg. GST and e-Invoicing) to reduce manual errors and tax frauds and improve transparency and compliance.
This means that as a business owner, it will now be essential to get an e-Invoicing software (eg. TCS iON E-invoicing Solution) to keep your business compliant. The move will also help to:
- Reduce mismatch errors and reconciliation challenges
- Save time and cost as you have to upload B2B invoices only once for validation by the IRP
- Track e-Invoices in real-time
- Generate e-Invoices in a uniform format that can be read and understood by other software
3. Collaboration tools for improving team communications and productivity
A reliable collaboration tool is the next must-have business application for your MSME. Collaboration tools are essential for a hybrid and remote workforce, with teams requiring collaboration on diverse work assignments. It enables teams to stay productive, communicate seamlessly, share project updates, brainstorm ideas and more.
A collaboration software will help in your MSME digitisation and growth. There are several tools you can consider based on the type of collaboration required, number of people involved, frequency of use, alternative tools available etc.
Some of the collaboration and productivity solutions you can consider for your business includes:
- Document management software (eg. TCS iON Document Manager) to collaborate and manage, store and share files securely with teams and external customers
- Cloud-based productivity and business tools (eg. Google Workspace) to manage email, documents and spreadsheets, schedule meetings, store files centrally, and improve team collaboration
- Video calling and conferring software (eg. TCS iON Interaction Manager) to enable secure audio/video communication between internal teams and external stakeholders
4. CRM software for efficient lead management and sales closure
A customer relationship management software (eg. TCS iON CRM, Kylas, Cronberry) is another essential tool you must have. It enables you to manage and track business leads, create workflows and assign tasks, build a sales pipeline, provide visibility on lead status, and close sales deals faster. It helps to build better customer relationship by tracking all interactions across touch points for improved, value-added communications. CRM software can improve customer service by providing real-time access to customer data.
As a small business, whether you are generating 50 or 500 leads, a CRM solution will help you to plan your future marketing and sales initiatives better.
- With analytical reports, it will provide insights on the lead sources, sales pipeline, time required to close deals, revenue, customer buying behaviour and more to help you forecast and build data-based strategies for business growth.
- With contact management feature it will allow businesses to store end-to-end customer data in a centralised location. This is helpful as sales reps do not have to repeatedly update data leading to lesser manual errors and better efficiency.
- It also helps to improve customer experience as communications can be personalised and tailor-made to suit customer needs.
A CRM tool is an essential business management software that your MSME needs. There are several CRM applications in the market today. Select one that fits your budget, offers features that meet your business goals, and is easy enough for your teams to use effortlessly.
5. HR payroll and attendance management software for tracking leaves efficiently
With teams working remotely, it has become imperative for businesses to efficiently track employee leaves, in-and-out time, and attendance to ensure accurate pay slip generation and compliance. HR software also provide access to information about employees and their employment history.
There are several reliable HR payroll solutions (eg. greytHR, TCS iON Payroll) etc. that you can consider to streamline the attendance and payroll process and keep it transparent. Some of the benefits of a HR software for small businesses include:
- Employee lifecycle management, from onboarding to exit through cloud solutions
- Adherence to statutory compliances with pre-built computation (eg. income tax, PF, ESI etc.) for payroll
- Automated, end-to-end payroll management for different job roles, locations, and salary structures
- Monitor employee leaves and time-tracking, and mark attendance with GPS tracking, photo etc.
- Employee self-login for employees to update KYE details, tax declarations, apply for leaves, download pay slips etc.
Software for business: The key to MSME growth and success
When it comes t selecting business automation solutions for your MSME, there’s no one tool that will serve all your goals and objectives. Tools are designed to cater to a specific need, and based on your goals, you need a tool that will deliver value.
For instance, if you want to leverage social media marketing, a relevant tool to create and schedule posts and track performance will be helpful; if you want to connect with customers via voice and text, a cloud telephony solution would be preferred.
As a business owner, evaluate your options and select a tool that best fits your business needs. Alternative, you can also visit a B2B software marketplace to find the right tools to get you started.