How to use technology to improve productivity

Intelligence gathered by the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has shown all sectors of industry in the North East have increased digital adoption during the coronavirus pandemic.

More and more businesses are using tech solutions to reach customers and improve productivity and efficiency.

Here are some examples of digital solutions you can introduce in your business to help you work smarter.

Digital accounting systems

The introduction of government’s Making Tax Digital programme means it’s more important than ever for businesses to invest in accounting software.

VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) are now required to follow the Making Tax Digital rules by keeping digital records and using software to submit their VAT returns. VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover below £85,000 will be required to follow Making Tax digital rules for their first return starting on or after April 2022.

Investing in accounting software is a sensible idea for any SME.  It helps business owners manage their finances more efficiently and with more accuracy.

One of the earliest providers of cloud-based, accounting software, QuickBooks allows small businesses to manage VAT and payroll, as well as access reporting and monitoring tools.

Another popular cloud accounting software provider, Xero lets businesses manage invoicing, inventory, payroll, and expense claims. It also has a handy app so you can manage your finances on the go.

Sage Business Cloud Accounting
Probably the most well known accounting software provider, Sage’s Business Cloud Accounting covers everything from invoicing, cashflow, and payroll.

Selling online

Strict lockdown measures in 2020 have seen many businesses rapidly move to online retail in order to sell their goods and services, as customers are often unable to visit them in person.

Statistics from ONS show online sales grew more than 10% during March to August 2020, compared with the same period last year.

Upgrade your existing website
If you already have a website, speak to your provider about adding ecommerce functionality. Many of the big website providers have an online store option within their content management systems.
Quickly create your own ecommerce website using over 500 online store templates. You can also get a personalised SEO plan to get found online.
This platform also lets you build and design your own online shop. You can use your existing website domain, or create a new one.

Use an online marketplace
There are lots on digital marketplaces you can use to sell your products online; the only drawback being you’ll be charged fees for the privilege. Some of the most popular include Amazon, eBay, and Not on the High Street.

Moving to cloud-based computing/storage

Cloud computing has enabled businesses big and small to work effectively and efficiently during the coronavirus pandemic. By storing and accessing data and programs over the internet instead of a computer’s hard drive, employees have been able to work from home without significant disruption.

For businesses that still use onsite servers and systems, the transition has not been so smooth.

Cloud computing provides strengthened security, improved connectivity, greater efficiency and reduces the risk of data loss.

Microsoft OneDrive
Integrating seamlessly with Office 365, Microsoft OneDrive is a popular choice among SMEs. Receive 5GB free before moving to paid subscription model.

Google Drive
Another very popular platform as it integrates with Googles existing suite of products including Google Docs, Google Sheets etc. It offers 15GB of free storage.

Dropbox Business
This platform allows businesses to centralise team content; access work across computer, mobile or web browser; and connect tools like Zoom and Slack.