• Growth of a business increases volume of work, necessitating smart solutions
You are probably reading this article on a computer you either own or is provided by an employer. Perhaps you are in a cybercafe. Most people use computers to read or receive emails, browse the Internet and write documents. Frankly speaking, computers aren't being utilised to their full capabilities.
With the right software, the average computer can turn into the equivalent of a personal assistant, who makes running your business so much easier, as real estate agent Mohammed Munir is finding out.
The estate agency business he manages almost closed down a year ago due to poor record keeping. A long-running business, the practice was to record landlord and tenant payments in printed forms, which would then be filed in cabinets. With time, the business grew so much that records simply got mixed up.
“Landlords would be paid in full even when some of their tenants hadn’t cleared their rent. This created a huge hole in our finances,” Munir says.
“If you are an estate agent handing over money to landlords when their tenants have not paid, you are basically giving the landlord your money.”
Munir's first order of business was to digitise the company's transactions in such a way that tenant and landlord payments could be tracked in real-time. He has been trying out different software and is convinced that digitalisation will make his work easier.
“With the right software, I will quickly find out which tenants have paid and how many are still pending. That way, I can send landlords the exact amount they should be getting, minus my commission,” Munir says.
With most software these days available as mobile apps, Munir plans to monitor the agency whenever he's away from the office. One type of software that has aroused his attention can automatically send SMS messages to tenants at the beginning of each month, reminding them their rent is due.
“I might be in the office two or three days a week, but I'll be fully informed on everything that's happening because of the mobile app. I will have more time to do other profitable things instead of filling papers by hand," he says.
Large organisations can make use of customer relationship management (CRM) software that helps them track and manage customer interactions. CRM stores customer contact information, orders and preferences, thus helping a business to better understand its clients' needs. CRM can also be integrated into email newsletters, call centres and social media.
There are lots of free or low-cost software available to small businesses, but, as Munir is finding out, identifying the right software takes time and effort. Employees must also be trained to use the software if the business is to reap maximum benefits from it. Care must be taken in selecting the most appropriate software because the wrong choice can turn routine chores into a very frustrating experience.
The use of electronic systems exposes businesses to data theft and malfunctioning equipment. Businesses that choose to adopt digital technology in their processes should train their employees on basic principles of cyber security.