Are your backoffice systems good enough?

By: Matt Bird

Date: 6 October 2010

Like it or not, computer systems are a part of everything to do with operating your business and are crucial to its success. An ideally tailored system, one that is adaptable, usable and affordable, will transform your business and be a huge enabler for future expansion. No matter how talented you and your staff are, a poor system will hold you back.

I certainly know that the recently introduced backend systems at my business Stinkyink have exceeded all expectations in how we can adapt and scale them to our changing needs. And I believe it is possible for any start-up or small business to be just as fortunate.

Any system that does what we need is fine

While the above statement is true to a certain extent, don’t let it control the direction of your business. An inflexible system, while satisfying your initial needs, can hold back a new business idea for pushing yourself to the next level. This “future-proofing” is key, especially as a start-up. The path your business takes will rarely be the one you imagined, and this highlights the importance of being supported by one that can survive in a changing environment.

The old systems and their providers had no intention of implementing features that are now crucial in all areas of our business and the backbone of the excellent service we provide. We would still have been good on the old software, but now we can be great.

Behind any good system there is a good team

Adaptation and scalability are key for a backoffice system, but there are other critical success factors. Dedicated support from the software supplier, knowledgeable employees and – crucially – an ability to take criticism and user advice, should all be part of the service. The sheer scope and reach of some backoffice systems, depending on the complexity of your business model, make training a necessity, and the quality of this training will heavily impact how much you get out of your system.

The best way I can sum up the ideal support team for your backoffice system is that they take any criticism or request that you, the user, highlights, and see it as an opportunity to enhance the package, for others as well as you. We are lucky enough to have that with our supplier, AxisFirst, and the efficiency gains we have experienced with little tweaks to the original system really are priceless.

Even if you’re happy – look around!

I am all for loyalty, but the sooner you can implement your ideal backoffice system, the better. Even if your existing one performs well, question it.

  • Are there criticisms you or your staff make frequently?
  • Something you’ve been told is not possible?
  • A day-to-day activity that should really be automated?

It is a competitive market, so look around. You might be surprised how the system developers begin to think outside the box and things become possible when you see what competitors are offering.

Matt Bird of printer cartridge supplier, StinkyInk

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