Adapt or Die: Why 'Going Digital' is Keeping Small Businesses Alive

Taking the time to digitise your business processes now offers valuable pay-offs in the long run. In this blog, we discuss the benefits of digital for SMEs.

Small businesses have it tough. It’s often a delicate balancing act between winning new customers and keeping the business afloat. As most SMEs will admit, the pressure of sustaining their business means other, equally-important areas end up being side-lined.

Usually, it’s internal processes that get the least amount of attention, but inefficient processes are actually one of biggest financial drains for SMEs. That’s why taking the time to digitise your processes now, offers such a valuable pay-off in the long run.

Embracing change is critical

If manual processes are such a money and time pit, why do so many SMEs resist digital change? Often it’s simply because it’s unfamiliar, they don’t know where to begin, or they don’t recognise it as necessary.

Many SMEs cite these objections to change:

  • Lack of resources
  • Fear of change
  • Fear of losing customers
  • Misconception that the technology is expensive

On the surface, these are valid concerns. However, when you delve into each one, you soon see that continuing to use current methods is in fact far riskier than taking processes digital.

The biggest benefits of modernised processes

  • Immediate reduction in costs, per agreement. Postage, printing and the inevitable re-printing are expensive. Up to £25 per agreement. Think about how many you send per month – it adds up.
  • Dramatic drop in agreement turnaround and completion times. When you post an agreement, it takes a good 3–4 days by snail mail. Sending via Express is still 1-2 days, and what if you customer is overseas? A digital process allows for instant sending and receiving, online signing and speedy return.
  • Business growth through customer satisfaction. Your competitors love it when you stick to the ol’ pen and paper, because if they’re already digital, they’ll leave you in the dust. Customers are digitally savvy and completely mobile. And that’s exactly what they expect from businesses. Sticking to costly, inefficiencies methods mean you’ll be outpaced, and your customers will jump ship.

Like the concerns voiced in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the business community was beginning to adopt word processors. Change means uncertainty, but if there’s one thing we’ve all learned from the transition from pen-and-paper to word processing, it’s that technology drives efficiency and agility.

E-signatures and digitised processes are no different. Yes, it’s a new way of preparing, and signing orders, forms and contracts, but it doesn’t have to be a stumbling block. Just like other business processes that have been transformed by technology (fax machine, I’m looking at you), it’s a solution that businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from.

Generally, a good understanding of how technology can help, will put most minds at ease. So, let’s break it down.

What is your System of Agreement?

Every organisation already has a System of Agreement. It’s how written agreements get prepared, signed, enacted, and managed. But typically, it involves an inefficient mix of printing, signing, scanning, (heaven forbid, faxing!) and posting. These needlessly slow processes cost you time and money per agreement, due to materials and wasted productivity. When you calculate how much paperwork you produce as an SME, that’s a huge degree of wastage!

Modernising your System of Agreement through software tools that automate your key internal processes enables you to digitally manage end-to-end transactions involving people, documents and data. It converts previously manual processes – like the signing of sales contracts – into fast and seamless processes that happen online versus in person or through the mail.

Just like when email replaced fax, a modern System of Agreement that uses e-signatures is replacing the hassle of sending documents back and forth.

Why should SMEs consider modernising their processes now?

Speed and agility are critical for companies to stay competitive, especially for smaller businesses that are trying to grow. Taking processes digital offers speed and agility by default.

Take e-signing contracts for example, this removes the slowness and complexity of doing business manually. It also frees up resources, people, time and money – which can then be directed towards other business initiatives. By simplifying business processes, you can focus on the things that matter. That is, your customers and their success.

The benefits for SMEs

Digitising internal processes isn’t just for large corporations. SMEs get immediate benefits from modernising their System of Agreement, even with small-scale deployments. In fact, by starting small you can implement the new digital processes faster. You can start with just one department or line of business. Then, once you see the tangible and financial benefits, it is easy to justify the solution across other areas of the business.

In decades past, digital transformation meant the full-blown implementation of systems like Oracle and SAP. Deployment would take years, and by the time the system was up and running it would need to be updated. Things are very different today. The ability to scale at your own pace is what makes DocuSign such a worthwhile solution.

Cloud-based software services can be deployed quickly and easily. Most have an app for everything, and you don’t need an IT department to use them. DocuSign is no different. You can even get a taste of digitisation by offering e-signature options in contracts, as a test to see if you like it, by taking a free 30-day trial.

Having a solution that is mobile-usable is also key to meeting user expectations. To ensure maximum adoption of new technologies, they should be compatible with the way your employees and customers work. Today, customers expect options that can be accessed on any device. Meeting that expectation will win over your customers, and help grow your business by attracting new customers.

To learn more about growing your business quickly and efficiently with DocuSign, watch our on-demand webinar.