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Firms need flexibility to achieve sustainable growth

Craig Naylor-Smith, CEO, Parseq

Yorkshire is home to a vibrant, ambitious business community – one where growth is firmly in management teams’ sights.

It only takes a scan of the latest Ward Hadaway ‘Yorkshire Fastest 50’ – the ranking of Yorkshire’s fastest growing firms, unveiled earlier this year in this paper – to see what local businesses have been achieving.

These are companies in the fast lane, in some cases doubling their turnover year-on-year.

And they’re part of the reason that the latest government statistics, released in October, show that Yorkshire is predicted to post the joint-fastest economic growth of all the Northern Powerhouse regions this year.

For businesses undergoing expansion at this speed, scalability is a common challenge. It can be hard for organisations to keep up with the pace of demand.

As firms take on new customers, new orders and new staff, essential functions, from HR to finance, have to scale up, and scale quickly. But they are often overlooked.

In times of rapid growth, the focus is often on the big picture – ensuring a company is moving in the right direction as wind fills its sails.

Giving these back-office departments due attention is essential to sustainable expansion.

Without functions with the capacity to support a business’ pace and scale of operations, firms can face problems ranging from issues paying suppliers, to falling behind on regulatory compliance.

But it’s easier said than done. Invest too little in back-office departments, and serious cracks can appear. Invest too much, and management teams can tie-up cash in functions that are simply too large for a business at their stage of growth – limiting the amount of money they can commit to investment.

When it comes to growing businesses and their back-office functions, flexibility will be key. These functions must be able to adapt quickly to meet – and crucially match – operational demand.

One way to achieve this is through digital transformation. Applying technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence to back-office processes can pay real dividends.

With the latest generation of back-office tech, peaks and troughs in workload are taken in software’s– digital – stride: automatically flexing to handle only as much, or as little, work as is available, while limiting the need for capital investment. And they adapt to firms’ existing processes, and integrate with existing systems.

These can be deployed as single, ad-hoc solutions, or work together as part of a complete package.

For example, at Parseq, we work with businesses to design bespoke finance and accounting solutions that use tools like automation and AI to manage everything from processing invoices, to generating management accounts, paying customers and providing accurate and fully compliant weekly or monthly payroll – including processing payments to staff, managing pension contributions and completing HMRC reporting. The degree of automation is entirely flexible, the solutions are inherently scaleable and the packages are modular – allowing management teams to seamlessly add new solutions as their business expands, or their needs change.

Taking a digital approach delivers more benefits than just flexibility. By working quickly, and efficiently, these solutions also save money – as much as 20% per process, in our experience.

And, perhaps most importantly, it frees-up employee time. By shouldering the mundane, repetitive, time-consumer tasks, a digital back-office enables every team member to focus on the most value-add tasks as businesses continue to grow.

Firms across Yorkshire will continue to have their eye on growth.

Keeping the benefits of a digital foundation front of mind will help ensure that our local business’ initial momentum translates into long-term success.

Originally published in The Yorkshire Post

 

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