Research confirms that most small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners understand they must automate their business processes to compete in today’s business ecosystem and navigate an environment defined by heightened competition, economic headwinds, workforce shortages, and upheavals in traditional work models. It’s important that SMBs build a tech stack for success.
The key is crafting the right tech stack to help your company compete effectively against larger companies – streamlining operations, increasing productivity, and delivering exceptional customer value and support.
Here are three strategies to consider as you determine what your tech stack should look like for your company.
Align your tech stack with the most pressing needs of your business
Are contracts managed efficiently? Do you spend countless hours trying to create a professional-looking document? Are payments processed promptly? Recent surveys confirm that business productivity solutions like document workflow automation and e-signatures rank high on the list of SMB tech needs.
Being an SMB owner is not a job for the faint at heart. Most juggle many roles, from admin to sales to producing marketing materials. There may not be an assistant to whom they can hand off their menial tasks. By automating repetitive tasks and workflows, you can open your schedule to focus on strategic initiatives or pursue sales leads.
Automating workflows, menial tasks, and document production can also help mitigate the talent shortage challenge, which shows no signs of diminishing. While the tumultuous days of the great resignation may no longer be a factor, demographics and the aging populations in the U.S. will continue to impact the labor pool. A recent report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) shows the magnitude of the problem, with 42% of SMB owners facing significant challenges in filling open positions. The NFIB predicts that this challenge will continue to plague SMBs over the next several years. Now’s the time to invest in your tech stack.
As much as today’s business landscape demands automation, it also requires intelligent investing in automation tech. It’s a delicate balance between ensuring you have all the necessary automation and overkill. The tech landscape is rife with options, but not all suit SMB needs. Identify the areas in your business where automation can have the most impact – i.e., document workflow, customer relationship management, inventory management, or marketing campaigns.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of purchasing more than what is necessary. While enterprise-level solutions offer many features, they can also be complex and expensive. Instead, prioritize user-friendly, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solutions in your tech stack that provide actual value.
For example, an all-in-one automated document workflow solution lets you easily create and customize professional-looking documents, automate online signatures in documents, finalize contracts faster, and integrate payment collection into contract negotiation, invoicing, and accounting.
Partner with vendors who offer purpose-tech solutions
When choosing technology vendors, avoid getting swayed by big brand names that may not necessarily cater to the specific needs of SMBs. Where exactly are you on your journey? Are you at a straightforward use case or a very sophisticated one? Perhaps you just need access to a simple legal document template. Or, if you are doing complex workflows where your business runs on your document, you’ll need more sophisticated workflow and automation tools.
Partner with vendors who offer purpose-built solutions designed for SMBs and take the time to understand your requirements and provide options that align with your business processes.
Complementing this approach is democratizing access to automation, which means focusing on solutions that make automation tech accessible to businesses of all sizes. Along with offering the right solutions for your business, democratizing access also leans into tailoring pricing plans to match your usage. It ensures you don’t pay for excess features or licenses and only pay for what you need and use.
Too often, tech vendors require or push you to buy more licensing seats than you need. Maybe you don’t need five or 10 seats or to spend $10,000 on your automation needs; maybe $1,000 will work. This shift from traditional licensing models is less wasteful and enables SMBs to adopt automation tools without the burden of unnecessary costs.
It’s all about getting the full value of the money you invest in your tech stack.
Build a tech stack
SMBs that make choices that amplify the impact of every tech investment are on the right path to achieving success. There are always going to be external factors that are beyond anyone’s control – the pandemic is a good example. But those SMBs that had set up their automated workflows pre-pandemic were in a much better position to withstand the pandemic’s devastating impact. The journey to success begins with a well-planned and purposeful tech stack that reflects your goals, propels your growth, and solidifies your competitive advantage.