Work habits have been changing even before the pandemic, but many future work trends have become commonplace over the past year. As remote work becomes a reality, there is a need for new solutions that improve communication, process management and virtual meetings, as well as pay more attention to internal company communication, team building and atmosphere.

Get acquainted with the latest technologies that change the way we work at the business technology exhibition and conference RIGA COMM 2021 to be held October 14-15, Riga, Latvia. In this article, we have summarized the existing technologies that can improve your and your team’s performance.

Tools to achieve employees’ well-being and work-life balance

The Bottle team management solutions software helps colleagues collaborate and manage tasks, as well as manage various motivational elements. The solution developers identified three key factors to make any team great and created a product that takes care of those factors. It is a tool to manage and improve teamwork and team culture.

Neuroscience has demonstrated that learning new information with the elements of gaming and social networking is more effective than routine training methods and meetings with colleagues. The Efectio platform for employee involvement created in Latvia promotes the well-being of employees, the development of skills and the consolidation of teams, as well as bringing the values of the company to life in every team.

Mursion is a virtual reality solution for simulating emotional intelligence and other social skills relevant to the workplace. The goal of this solution is to make managers and employees more empathetic. How does it work? Mursion, by combining artificial intelligence and the interaction of living people, provides impressive virtual reality training. Using trained professionals who organize the interaction between learners and artificial images, Mursion simulations achieve realism and significant team improvements.

In order to prevent employee and team burnout, Timeoff helps to find time in the daily work plan for subordinates to recover, learn, reflect on what they have done, plan, and be creative and innovate. For any position, rest is as important as work, so the Timeoff developers believe that rest should be treated in the same way as work. To prevent burnout, the accumulation of holidays and days off, the company is developing a software tool to help companies implement measures such as compulsory leave, artificial holidays and even mental health days to strengthen the well-being of the organization.

More convenient remote communication

Yac is the solution for better communication and fewer meetings. It allows you to exchange voice messages and share the screen asynchronously. Instead of scheduling a video appointment or endlessly exchanging messages on Slack or another platform, shorten this conversation to a few voice messages or asynchronous screen sharing. Yac can be used for two-person or group communication.

The Loom video communication tool records and shares video messages from the screen, camera, or both, allowing you to transfer information faster and asynchronously compared to composing emails or organizing an online meeting.

Kona helps managers to follow the emotional mood of the team remotely and manage the team empathically. This tool keeps track of the team’s daily mood, determines the working styles of team members, and creates “health” reviews for the team.

People cannot handle loads of meetings, emails, chats, portals, and other apps. Soundbite is a platform for better remote communication that allows you to easily perceive, efficiently organize, intelligently analyse, and securely share verbal communication.

Productivity and automation

Holopod provides for accomplishing the most important jobs without the fear of missing out something important (FOMO – the fear of missing out; the fear of missing something), keeping the work-rest balance in your life, building boundaries for communication with your team to avoid burnout working remotely. This solution automatically updates the Slack status, blocks notifications, and keeps you synchronized with the team, allowing you to plan a productive workday. The tool allows you to plan times of continuous concentration, time for collaboration, and for yourself.

Clickup believes that productivity is generally compromised – there are too many tools to track all the information and they are often each in their own system. Therefore, ClickUp was created, which aims to ensure that all work information is in one place, allowing people to be more productive and free up at least 20% of their time that could be devoted to other things.

With Paperless you need just seconds to transform existing files into interactive, professional-looking documents without programming. It is a tool that helps you create, customize, and send documents that you can fill in and sign immediately, which will save you time by reducing errors and automating the workflow of documents. All documents are cryptographically signed, locked and protected from modifications.

Miro is anonline collaborative whiteboard platform to bring teams together anytime and anywhere, and make innovation process faster. This digital solution makes it possible to improve the ideation and brainstorming process by using Miro’s infinitely zoomable canvas with a variety of integrated tools and pre-made templates. Miro offers all the tools for creating a user’s story or customer journey map, web page frames, sprint planning, retrospectives and other working techniques. This makes it possible to involve remote teams in the processes of idea generation, working and decision-making, allowing them to work asynchronously or synchronously as easily as if they were in the same room.

Learn about the latest Smart HR technology, tools and techniques at the annual business and IT industry event RIGA COMM, October 14–15, where developers and suppliers of enterprise resource management, document management, HRM and security systems, suppliers of cloud services, internet and digital marketing services, web solutions and mobile application developers, and ICT product manufacturers offer ready-to-use and tailored solutions for companies in different industries and of different sizes, municipal authorities and organisations to facilitate efficient operation. An extensive conference programme will complement the technology exhibition.

RIGA COMM is held by the International Exhibition Company BT 1 in cooperation with Intelligent Machines Riga, Riga TechGirls, SmartHR Latvija, Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mailigen, Finance Latvia Association and other partners.

Although there are various opinions and studies on whether remote work is effective for organisations and convenient for individuals, the virus-induced crisis is forcing employers and employees around the world to abandon face-to-face communication, rapidly acquire new skills and become significantly more digital. Today, there are many and different digital tools available to help you work remotely, promote digital communication, co-operation, and allow you to get feedback quickly!

Baltic companies will find appropriate digital solutions and technology partners at the RIGA COMM business technology event to be held on 15 and 16 October. Now, however, we would like to introduce you to digital communication and collaboration tools that help employees work flexibly and improve business productivity.

For medium-sized and large companies, the choice must be centralised
The leading researcher at possible.lv and IT security expert Kirils Solovjovs recommends the creation of a virtual private network, or a company virtual private network as the most secure solution to working remotely. This solution allows you to securely get access to the work network, all systems and documents without worrying about the reliability of the wireless network you are using. VPN installation should be centralised and should be entrusted to a competent company specialist. It should be stressed, however, that in every medium-sized or large company decisions on the choice of any digital tools should be entrusted to an IT department or department that would centrally choose the best solutions from both functionality and security perspective.

Reliability of the service provider
When choosing digital tools and cloud services, it is important to consider the reliability of the service provider and the service itself – how the service may be affected by the law of the country where the company is registered or physically located, will it operate smoothly and for as long as necessary, whether the user support will be available, will it be possible to retrieve the transmitted / supplied data, if necessary. It is also important to consider information security – whether the service provider has taken steps to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to the data, whether the data will not be deliberately passed on to a third party, whether there is a possibility that the data may be rectified, that the security has been sufficiently contemplated and cannot be hacked.

Company’s data security and availability
The most reliable tools in terms of service provider reliability, of course, are company-based tools, or at least those contracted for individual use. If an organisation chooses to use a publicly available and ready-to-use digital tool, it is important to carefully read through the terms of use and the rights of both parties, since they are likely to ensure a secure transfer of information and prevention against unauthorised access by your neighbours, for example, but will provide for the right of a service provider to use the transferred data. When choosing a service provider, it is important to assess the content of information – whether it is secret or contains sensitive information and whether its leakage may cause any problems.

There is also a variety of free and open source solutions that an IT administrator can install on a server, so a company does not have to worry about the security of data transmitted. As an example, the expert mentions the Jitsi video conferencing tool, which can be used as a more reliable alternative to the widely popular Zoom.

Clear company’s policy reduces mistakes made by people
The coronavirus has led to the largest mass exercise in remote working, it is high time to review the emergency and crisis management policies on the senior level management, so that the responsible employees know how to proceed; it is also likely that annual policy reviews and renewals should be carried out. In order to ensure the security of company’s IT infrastructure, employees should be reminded of the company’s IT user behaviour policy or guidelines – what action is allowed and what must not be done using company’s IT networks and resources, including e-mail.

Information for employees on security risks while working remotely
It is good to have a company that also has an employee remote work policy, draws employees’ attention not only to security of devices and Internet connection they are using, but also to that of their physical environment, for example, whether screens of their devices are not seen in surveillance cameras. If the company does not provide its employee with a secure and verified device, the IT specialist should make sure that the private device is secure and does not contain any malware. If the same device is used for both work and private purposes, it is recommended that you create separate work and personal profiles to prevent private and work files mixing up and minimise security risks.

Recommendations on IT security are provided by CERT.LV
The Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution of the Republic of Latvia CERT.LV has prepared recommendations on remote work in the state of emergency circumstances, general risks, storage of information to be processed, online meetings, VPN security, computers and access rights restrictions.

In cooperation with NIC.LV, the holder of the Latvian domain name register, CERT.LV has also created a DNA firewall. It is a free tool to protect individual users and organisations from cyberthreats, such as fake bank websites, fraudulent online trading platforms, sites spreading virus and malware, etc.

Available tools

Access to all necessary documents

Without easy access to organisation’s information resources, remote work would definitely become more complicated, if not stop at all. Some of the most popular document management tools are Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Sharepoint, Box, Xtensio and Dropbox.

Virtual private networks (VPN) to access your office systems and documents

Virtual private network (VPN) allows secure access to company’s intranet, all of the systems and documents on it, as if employees were working at their workspaces. Some of the available solutions – NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Hotspot Shield, Surfshark, PrivateVPN, TunnelBear VPN, IPVanis and Private Internet Access.

Virtual meetings

To encourage structured talks, to be creative and put forward new ideas, to communicate important information “eye-to-eye”, there are services allowing users to host video calls and video conferences ‒ Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams (including Skype for Business), Cisco Webex Meetings, GoToMeeting, Slack, CyberLink U Meeting, BlueJeans Meetings, Jitsi Meet, Whereby and Adobe Connect.

Task management and team’s performance monitoring

Task and project management and planning tools make it easy to manage complex processes with multiple stakeholders and keep track of task execution status. The most popular tools are Asana, Trello, BasecampProductive, and ProofHub or for example a tool for creative projects like Milanote.

Internal communication and team building

Digital platforms and internal social networks, intranets, that can be used by businesses to exchange work-related information directly and to conduct internal communication activities, are the Latvian-made Whimsical, Yammer, Jive, Trello, Teamwork, Asana, Bitrix24 and Workplace by Facebook.

For chatting and quick communication

For quick exchange of operational information, organisations may use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, Discord, Slack and Google Hangouts Chat.

For time tracking

Software for automatic real-time recording of working time allows you to improve your team’s productivity and to record man-hours spent on each project – Latvian Desktime, Estonian Toggl, Hubstaff, Rescuetime, Time Doctor, Timeneye, Harvest, Qbserve and Everhour.

Content management

You can use the available content management tools (CMS) WordPress, HubSpot, Joomla!, Drupal, TYPO3 or Wix to easily provide business related information on your website and the Internet.

eCommerce platforms

If your business is selling goods or services, choose one of the online store platforms – WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento or PrestaShop.

Email marketing

Tools for automated emailing that make it easy and simple to connect with existing and potential customers worldwide are – the Latvian-developed Mailigen by Pipedrive, Smaily, Mailchimp, MailerLite, Salesmango, HubSpot, as well as ActiveCampaign.

Data visualisation tools

Simple business intelligence tools for convenient data visualisation provided by Latvian companies – Zoomcharts, eazyBI and Flex.bi.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

The following software is available to better serve your customers – Salesforce, Zendesk, MS Dynamics 365, Scoro, Pipedrive, Standard CRM by HansaWorld, SAP CRM, ZohoCRM, Sage CRM, Oracle CRM, Siebel CRM, Bitrix24, SugarCRM, vtiger CRM, Creatio, Meemo, Norgate and amoCRM.

Human resource management tools

Smart tools for recruitment, scheduling and assessment of working time are also available – Latvian CakeHR by Sage, Sympa HR, MS Dynamics 365, BambooHR, eddyHR, NetSuite SuitePeople, SAP SuccessFactors, Paddle HR, PurelyHR, Zenefits, Bitrix24, PeopleBookHR, Workday, Kronos and Namely.

Customer support software solutions

Tools and solutions to build and maintain good customer relationships: Help Scout, Zendesk, Zoho Desk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Jira Service Desk, Desk.com, Cisco Webex Support, Oracle Service Cloud, TeamSupport, LiveAgent, Freshdesk, Helpjuice, Khoros Care, ConnectWise Manage, Intercom, Groove and AzureDesk.

RIGA COMM is an annual business technology event in the Baltic States where developers and suppliers of enterprise resource management, document management, HRM and security systems, suppliers of cloud services, internet and digital marketing services, web solutions and mobile application developers, and ICT product manufacturers offer ready-to-use and tailored solutions for companies in different industries and of different sizes, municipal authorities and organisations to facilitate efficient operation.

The Information Technology Security Incident Response Institution of the Republic of Latvia CERT.LV has prepared recommendations on remote work in the state of emergency circumstances, general risks, storage of information to be processed, online meetings, VPN security, computers and access rights restrictions.
In cooperation with NIC.LV, the holder of the Latvian domain name register, CERT.LV has also created a DNA firewall. It is a free tool to protect individual users and organisations from cyberthreats, such as fake bank websites, fraudulent online trading platforms, sites spreading virus and malware, etc.

Available tools

Access to all necessary documents

Without easy access to organisation’s information resources, remote work would definitely become more complicated, if not stop at all. Some of the most popular document management tools are Google Drive, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Sharepoint and Dropbox.

Virtual private networks (VPN) to access your office systems and documents

Virtual private network (VPN) allows secure access to company’s intranet, all of the systems and documents on it, as if employees were working at their workspaces. Some of the available solutions – NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberChost VPN, Hotspot Shield, Surfshark, PrivateVPN, TunnelBear VPN, IPVanis and Private Internet Access.

Virtual meetings

To encourage structured talks, to be creative and put forward new ideas, to communicate important information “eye-to-eye”, there are services allowing users to host video calls and video conferences ‒ Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams (including Skype for Business), Cisco Webex Meetings, GoToMeeting, Slack, CyberLink U Meeting, BlueJeans Meetings, Jitsi Meet, Whereby and Adobe Connect.

Task management and team’s performance monitoring

Task and project management and planning tools make it easy to manage complex processes with multiple stakeholders and keep track of task execution status. The most popular tools are Asana, Trello, Basecamp and Productive.

Internal communication and team building

Digital platforms and internal social networks, intranets, that can be used by businesses to exchange work-related information directly and to conduct internal communication activities, are the Latvian-made Whimsical, Yammer, Jive, Trello, Teamwork, Asana, Bitrix24 and Workplace by Facebook.

For chatting and quick communication

For quick exchange of operational information, organisations may use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal, Discord, Slack and Google Hangouts Chat.

For time tracking

Software for automatic real-time recording of working time allows you to improve your team’s productivity and to record man-hours spent on each project – Latvian Desktime, Estonian Toggl, Hubstaff, Rescuetime, Time Doctor, Timeneye, Harvest, Qbserve and Everhour.

Content management

You can use the available content management tools (CMS) WordPress, HubSpot, Joomla!, Drupal, TYPO3 or Wix to easily provide business related information on your website and the Internet.

eCommerce platforms

If your business is selling goods or services, choose one of the online store platforms – WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento or PrestaShop.

Email marketing

Tools for automated emailing that make it easy and simple to connect with existing and potential customers worldwide are – the Latvian-developed Mailigen by Pipedrive, Smaily, Mailchimp, MailerLite, Salesmango, HubSpot, as well as ActiveCampaign.

Data visualisation tools

Simple business intelligence tools for convenient data visualisation provided by Latvian companies – Zoomcharts, eazyBI and Flex.bi.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

The following software is available to better serve your customers – Salesforce, Zendesk, MS Dynamics 365, Scoro, Pipedrive, Standard CRM by HansaWorld, SAP CRM, ZohoCRM, Sage CRM, Oracle CRM, Siebel CRM, Bitrix24, SugarCRM, vtiger CRM, Creatio, Meemo, Norgate and amoCRM.

Human resource management tools

Smart tools for recruitment, scheduling and assessment of working time are also available – Latvian CakeHR by Sage, Sympa HR, MS Dynamics 365, BambooHR, eddyHR, NetSuite SuitePeople, SAP SuccessFactors, Paddle HR, PurelyHR, Zenefits, Bitrix24, PeopleBookHR, Workday, Kronos and Namely.

Customer support software solutions

Tools and solutions to build and maintain good customer relationships: Help Scout, Zendesk, Zoho Desk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Jira Service Desk, Desk.com, Cisco Webex Support, Oracle Service Cloud, TeamSupport, LiveAgent, Freshdesk, Helpjuice, Khoros Care, ConnectWise Manage, Intercom, Groove and AzureDesk.

RIGA COMM is an annual business technology event in the Baltic States where developers and suppliers of enterprise resource management, document management, HRM and security systems, suppliers of cloud services, internet and digital marketing services, web solutions and mobile application developers, and ICT product manufacturers offer ready-to-use and tailored solutions for companies in different industries and of different sizes, municipal authorities and organisations to facilitate efficient operation.

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Konica Minolta Baltia is a subsidiary of Konica Minolta Inc., as a leading global services provider in the field of IT- and document processes as well as digital production and industrial printing solutions the company excels in services-led business consulting, implementation and management and provides a range of world-leading printing systems and solutions.

Discover Konica Minolta Business Technologies for Digital Workplace IN Riga Comm expo!

Workplace Hub: simplify your IT.

Workplace Hub makes it easier to plan, manage and grow the IT environment. It creates the infrastructure for the future by empowering your current technology. It helps to reduce IT complexity, removes repetitive IT tasks, ends unwelcome distractions and optimizes total IT spend.

Content & Document Management

From various processes automation to full document management. Digital invoice management lets you easily capture all incoming invoices. All relevant invoice details, such as consignment, invoice numbers, etc., are automatically processed, checked, and captured using text recognition and intelligent algorithms.

Digital office

In Riga Comm Expo Konica Minolta defines smart office trends – smart multifunction device, panel customization, security & authorization, connectivity, easy and secure file sharing & collaboration, cloud & mobile printing.

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On 11 and 12 October, Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre will host the annual Business Technology Fair and Conference “RIGA COMM 2018” for the seventh time. The event offers an extensive programme of practical conferences and seminars, as well as a fair that provides information on modern IT and business technology solutions to companies and organisations.

 

“Demand creates supply – “RIGA COMM 2018” keeps on developing and will take place in two halls this year! Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, business process optimisation, cyber security, blockchains, human resource management and digital marketing – these are just some of the topics that already attracted a lot of interest last year. This year, we have added two other useful conferences to the programme – on financial technologies and productivity,” Andris Breške, Project Manager of “RIGA COMM”, elaborates.

 

Participants from various countries

The fair in Riga will be attended by developers and providers of digital solutions, tools and services, as well as representatives thereof, from Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ireland, Canada and China, as they will be presenting the latest technologies, products and services.

 

Enterprises will present innovative digital business solutions and services, innovative technologies and products, including digital marketing solutions, cloud computing services, IoT and telematics solutions, e-saving services, business consultations etc. Visitors of “RIGA COMM” will be able to consult with experts and choose the most suitable solutions for their business or organisation.

 

Whereas those who are interested in technological innovations and consumer electronics that are yet to appear in Latvian stores will be welcome at the “ALSO University” display, where visitors will not only be able to view but also try out the latest hybrid computers, TVs, compact printers and other equipment.

 

Conferences for business and personal growth

Mark 11 and 12 October in your calendars right now, as “RIGA COMM 2018” will be offering more than 12 valuable and interesting conferences on these dates for you to get new ideas and knowledge. The conferences will take place in English and Latvian on seven different stages alongside the exhibition of the fair. In order to attend most of the conferences, it is enough to purchase a ticket to “RIGA COMM 2018”, which may already be done at www.bezrindas.lv and on the fair’s website www.rigacomm.com. However, if you wish to attend separate conferences, prior registration is required. Here is some information on the main events!

 

11 October:

Executive Forum. For the second time already, Ķīpsala will gather entrepreneurs, as well as executives of the IT industry and other sectors to discuss the increasing role of information technologies (IT) in the management processes of any organisation. The forum is organised in cooperation with “Proact IT Latvia”. More information: www.facebook.com/events/1061347340679001/

 

Machine Learning Practical Application Conference. Machine learning algorithms and the application thereof in business. Smart machines are already in use, and in order to provide new and effective services and make better decisions so that they will be used even more often in the near future alongside new algorithms. More information: www.facebook.com/events/432218577193046/

 

Fintech Conference. Those who are interested will be able to acquire information on progressive financial technologies and tools for companies and organisations. Faster and better financial services! More information: www.facebook.com/events/102147303980113/

 

Smart HR Conference. The need for smart technological HR management solutions is becoming more and more substantial, especially for large enterprises. The conference will look at topics such as smart HR technologies in labour management, planning, integration, training, internal communication, surveying, bonus management, recruitment, analysis etc. More information: www.facebook.com/events/1864129433878958/

 

12 October:

Productivity Conference. How companies should prepare for the digitalisation of business processes, how to assess which business processes and functions should be automated, how to choose the most suitable automation solutions and tools for efficient and transparent process management – find detailed information at the first Productivity Conference. More information: www.facebook.com/events/144619686357772/

 

3rd Internet of Things Conference.  Annual conference on solutions of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the use thereof in business, as well as in public administration and urban environment management. How IoT technologies help to improve efficiency, user experience, resource management, customer service, machine maintenance and reduce operational costs. More information: www.facebook.com/events/1958735187699138/

 

Blockchain Conference.  How blockchain technology and the use thereof will develop over the coming years, and what the potential thereof is today. Experience will be shared by leading Latvian and international experts. More information:  www.facebook.com/events/165763137386048/

 

Digital Marketing Stage. During both days of the fair, experts and digital trainers will provide information on digital sales and marketing tools and the practical use thereof, as well as share their success stories. This year’s content will be even more useful, as it is being prepared in cooperation with marketing managers of companies, bearing in mind modern day marketing needs and trends. More information: www.facebook.com/events/216134022282349/

 

“RIGA COMM 2018” will also host the Latvian “Horizon 2020” brokerage event and seminars, “ALSO University” seminars etc. More information: www.rigacomm.com

Follow us: www.facebook.com/RigaComm and www.twitter.com/RigaComm

 

“RIGA COMM” is organised by the International Exhibition Company BT 1. Cooperation partners: Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, “Proact IT Latvia”, “ALSO Latvia”, “Cognizant”, Latvian Blockchain Association, “Sem.lv”, “ExportScene”, “Mailigen”, “Smart HR Latvija”, “Gedvillo Consulting”.

 

Location:

Ķīpsala International Exhibition Centre

 

Opening hours:
11 October 10:00–18:00
12 October 10:00–18:00

 

Tickets

Ticket price – 20 EUR. Ticket prices will increase during the event. Tickets may be purchased on the website of the fair www.rigacomm.com or on the ticket platform BezRindas.lv.

 

InPass solutions are made to help your company improve labor productivity and make decisions which are based on specific data, at any time of the day, from anywhere in the world. With InPass solutions can keep up with the operation of production facilities, or to follow the climate parameters of the premises or to carry out electronic work time accounting of employees. Our client can see and analyze the data obtained on the client’s portal. InPass sensor installation is simple and fast. The solutions are designed so as not to affect the equipment electronics or warranty.

 

We tailor solutions individually to the wishes and needs of each client and also ensure maintenance of the system.

 

Apply for the solutions we offer during the exhibition and test them for one month free of charge.

 

We invite you to attend the Magnetic Latvia stand at the RIGA COMM 2018 exhibition and find out more about our offer!

Contact us:

E-mail: info@inpass.lv

Phone: +371 29873054

Homepage: www.inpass.lv

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Monitorings/

 

Visit also the RIGA COMM 2018 Internet of Things Conference on 12 October to find out more.

Follow the conference page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1958735187699138/

 

Artūrs Gedvillo, “Gedvillo Consulting”

 

On a daily basis, I work with enterprises that want to implement ERP, warehouse management, CRM or other software, and I have noticed that most entrepreneurs are not able to answer the following questions:

1.What is the aim of implementing the respective software? How will you measure whether it has been achieved?

2.Are arranged and optimised business processes in place, in order to understand what exactly it is that is required from the respective software?

3.How will you measure whether the investment justifies itself for the project as a whole, as well as for every specific need / requirement / goal?

 

In this article, I will explain what these questions mean and why it is important to answer them before talking to software suppliers.

 

Business transformation

First of all, I would like to underline that the implementation of ERP, CRM or any other equally sophisticated software is a complicated process, which does not only require installing the software on computers, but also changing business processes, as well as duties and habits of employees. It means that this may turn out to involve the transformation of your entire business (nowadays it is fashionable to call this digital transformation), and it is certainly necessary to apply Change Management in a project of this kind.

Any transformation of such type consists of three critical cornerstones:

o business processes – determine how the employees of the enterprise work and how various technological solutions (software, equipment) function. Processes are created in order for the enterprise to reach the goals it has set;

o people – employees of the enterprise who act uniformly according to the defined business processes and use various technologies in order to fulfil the processes efficiently;

o technologies – software and various other technological tools, including ERP software, that ensure the automatization of the enterprise’s processes.

 

If one of these aspects is not taken into account, the project will falter and most likely not succeed (there will be issues with quality, terms, budget, business performance etc.). Sounds reasonable? Nevertheless, it is very rare that an entrepreneur thinks about all of the previously mentioned aspects while carrying out a project. Although they are of critical importance for the successful implementation of software!

 

Measurable goal

Everyone knows – in order to achieve something, there has to be a clearly defined goal. If an entrepreneur is not able to provide justification for the implementation of specific software and the support it would provide to the achievement of the main goals of the enterprise, it would be advisable to take a step back and reflect. How do you define goals? SMART is the most common approach.

What do you think about these goals?

o Improving performance of the system

o Servicing more customers

o Making the interface more user-friendly

 

Goals like these are too broad, and it will be difficult to define whether they have been achieved after implementing the software. The goals must be precise, reachable, measurable, realistic and with a specific term.

 

Examples of measurable goals:

o speeding up the process of sales invoice generation by 50 % until the end of the project, in order to ensure the planned growth of the enterprise by 30 % over the next three years;

o making it possible for one seller to service 30 % more customers starting with August 2019.

 

By setting precise goals, it becomes possible to:

o create a common understanding regarding the meaning and direction of the project among all participants of the project;

o define software-related priorities at the start, as well as during the project;

o focus the project team on specific business processes (or parts thereof) and functionality.

 

Well-arranged and optimised business processes

Will you reach the goals set by automating your existing business processes with software? How do you know that? What makes you think that?

For instance, how can you be sure that CRM software will solve the issue of five different people preparing one sales invoice? It is sensible to ensure that the process is reviewed and optimised so that the invoice is prepared by only one person. New software may be required, however, it may also be possible to do this using already existing tools. Likewise, if you wish to use a warehouse management system to solve the problem of workers of the manufacturing department “borrowing” raw materials from the warehouse without being told to do so. Not everyone is aware of errors in business processes. Entrepreneurs sometimes fail to see that the problem lies in the whole process, not in tools or people.

It is primarily required to adjust the business process. It may even turn out that new software is not required, and adjustments need to be made to the already existing one and work must be performed with employees for them to follow the business process.

It should be noted that business processes cannot be examined and improved unilaterally, – it never works. All of the persons responsible within an enterprise should be involved (upper and middle management, for example, in the processing of a sales order it could be the board, as well as sales, production, warehouse, procurement and logistics managers).

It is most efficient to involve an independent external expert with whom all of the persons responsible may sit down at a table in order to draw up the business process and simultaneously coordinate and optimise it. The process may be drawn up and visualised in general or in detail. You may even draw up different variations of the process, and use modelling automation tools to calculate which is the most efficient one. But we will go through that in detail another time. The key thing is to always have the goals of the enterprise and the project in mind, find problems in the existing processes and find solutions to them.

New processes often foresee the reorganisation of staff or even the whole enterprise. Therefore, it is important to work on fear and resistance towards change expressed by employees (the already mentioned change management).

It is advisable to “think outside of the box” (habits, pressure from management / colleagues, technical limitations) and try to picture the perfect world when drawing up the processes. This is how innovative ideas come into being. And this is another thing that an external expert may help with, as he/she may have knowledge regarding another enterprise, technologies and trends of a specific field.

Hence, first, we define the goals that we want to achieve, and then we review the processes so that we can use them to reach the respective goals.

There is a belief that one must first choose the software and then adjust the business to the way it functions. This approach is suitable in very rare cases and it poses a lot of risks.

When the processes are ready, we may define business-related and technical requirements for the software and potentially also for other technologies (production lines, mobile devices, cash registers etc.). We summarise all of the things that we cannot include in the processes in a list with requirements (for example, what fields are needed on a customer card, what the marking of the palettes should look like etc.) and determine a sensible priority for every requirement (there are several methods for doing this).

 

Does the investment justify itself?

This is the most important question from a business management perspective, however, it is asked very rarely and calculated even less frequently. Suppliers often excuse themselves with it being a complex and inaccurate estimate, namely, not being possible. But is that really the case?

It is possible to carry out an approximate indicative return on investment calculation in the context of improving every requirement and process. Yes, it does take time, but not as much to refuse it, especially if there is a desire to invest large amounts of money.

For example, you include a new, well presented report in your requirements, with the investment for its development amounting to EUR 1,000. We can calculate that a report of such kind will save 10 minutes per quarter for a single employee of the enterprise. Does it pay off? Most likely not.

Or do you implement a procurement planning solution for EUR 5,000 (licences, software, configuration, training etc.)? As a result, you can decrease the number of procurement managers from 3 to 1. And what about this, does it pay off? Certainly, within a few months already.

The total return on investment of the project will also depend on how many requirements you have defined and what type.

 

What happens if you do not set goals, optimise processes or justify investments?

If you do not have goals, it is impossible to understand whether the project and the requirements have a purpose. If processes are not optimised and priorities are not set, you may not solve the problems due to which you decided to start the project. As a result, the project might fail.

What happens to a business after the implementation of software if you are not ready for it?

o no significant changes for the business are implemented – there are no benefits, the money is spent pointlessly and will not be regained;

o inefficient processes are automated – the business incurs monthly losses due to inefficient operations;

o a decline in customer satisfaction – if the system automates inefficient processes or unnecessary requirements, this may worsen the quality and speed of customer care even more;

o a drop in employee motivation – if the staff do not feel any benefits and improvements from the system, it will only be seen as a burden and will possibly demotivate the employees and decrease capacity.

 

Summary

Implementation of new software is an important strategic business decision, which has to be taken just as seriously as any other business-altering project.

Therefore we:

o set measurable (SMART) goals;

o improve the existing business processes for them to be able to achieve the respective goals;

o define the requirements and their priorities for the new software and other technologies.

 

Now we know what we want and we can:

o carry out a supplier price survey;

o assess every offer and the return on investment of every requirement;

o select software and a supplier that is suitable for our goals and processes.

 

You might ask, is such an approach not too weighty and does it also suit small and medium enterprises? Yes, it does! As soon as you get an idea of implementing software, it may be performed in any type of enterprise. You just have to understand what the goal is for doing so, and whether the respective software will be able to achieve that goal.

And, yes – preparation for implementing software must also be performed for seemingly simpler software, e.g. CRM. CRM is a crucial part of business for most enterprises, and it must be linked with other business structures in a joint process.

 

Visit “RIGA COMM” this October to find out more.

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