Guest Column | June 10, 2021

Remote Work One Year On And The 3 Lessons Making Businesses Rethink Their Bottom Line

Steve Powell, CloudBlue PSA

Remote Work Laptop

A year after the coronavirus pandemic turned our work lives upside down, it’s clear that remote work will not just be a temporary fad. Eighty-three percent of workers say they want to work from home at least one day a week, according to the accounting giant PwC, with more than half of them expecting to be allowed to do so even after all pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Working from home was just one shift in business operations that gave rise to a whole slew of pain points that companies have had to manage these past 12 months. With decentralized workplaces has come a new set of questions and lessons for those who are overseeing enterprise IT management.

Still, the burden of radically new circumstances has at least opened up opportunities for those most adept at navigating them. Many have found success by automating more repetitive workplace tasks to free up employee time. In addition, we’ve seen a rise in integrated management systems that better handle billing and the increased need to optimize client contracts to get the most out of each customer. Ultimately, 85 percent of businesses say they’re more productive when working in remote settings.

Now, as we approach a year of maneuvering this new normal, here are some of the best practices for maximizing productivity that can be used by managers of enterprise tech companies and IT-managed service providers (MSPs).

Automation Is Key

Cutting down increasingly tedious administrative tasks has allowed remote workers to address more pressing needs. Put simply, automation has given companies the freedom to get through what would otherwise be an impossible workload. Banks, for example, where the majority of employees have been working from home during the pandemic, have had to process more loans than ever as a result of the economic fallout from COVID-19. The sheer volume of requests has only been made manageable by automating the inbound processing and approval steps for loans.

This level of automation can make jobs easier, reduce frustration, create opportunities, and ease administrative overheads. Meanwhile, when labor can be done by a machine, the cost of that labor ceases to impede profits. 

The fast-evolving nature of business process automation (BPA), which uses software or AI to streamline complex tasks, has been shown to offer a return on investment of up to 400 percent in companies that can fully automate some of their major components. That’s why enterprise IT management must ensure long-term investments are made to automate business processes wherever possible. 

This need for automated processing has only been magnified by our current work-from-home environment and more companies are now willing to automate large chunks of their work. Eighty-two percent of executives surveyed said that working from home has increased the need for employees to have a working knowledge of automation, per a recent study from Forrester.

Maximize Contract Management

During the past year, managers at IT companies have been forced to reexamine their bottom line. An accurate understanding of the contribution each client is making to a business is key to optimizing overall performance and ensuring growth. When it comes to contracts, poor management can cost businesses up to nine percent of their annual revenue. 

For this reason, data has become an essential commodity, as it allows management at both enterprise tech companies and MSPs to act decisively to address poor-performing contracts or offer incentives to valuable customers who don’t over-consume their resources. Staying on top of contract data via virtual contract analysis software has given companies the ability to organize and track customer performance from a centralized repository. These digital tools can give you alerts on upcoming deadlines or expiring contracts while reducing your overhead costs in the process.

The impact of COVID-19 has led a lot of companies to renegotiate or exit deals that are no longer benefiting their business, and contract software can notify you about auto-renewing contracts that may require a second look to trim expenses. It’s become more critical than ever to have the tools and software that can quickly identify these opportunities for optimization. 

In a recent study that surveyed hundreds of contract management leaders, more than two-thirds said that having contract life cycle management (CLM) software improved insight across business functions. These software solutions that were once seen as a nice perk before the pandemic, are now must-have tools going forward.

Optimize Time Billing 

Keeping control over invoice processing has been another top priority for enterprise IT managers during the lockdowns. Time billing errors cost money and can quickly damage a company’s reputation. In addition, manual processing of incoming revenue has never felt more archaic than it does now with everyone working remotely.

With a centralized time billing platform, accounting information can safely and securely be stored in one place. And with automated software, companies on average cut their invoice processing time to a few days, rather than the weeks it can take when doing it manually.

Billing is another area where our current remote setup has made enterprise technology companies and MSPs adapt to solutions that will save them time and money in the long run. Making client and supplier documents fully digital can save a company up to 75 percent when compared with paper transactions, while also saving tons of time.

Gone are the days of missing paperwork or invoicing delays that can ruin relationships with clients. Billing software solutions that accelerate invoicing allow management to free up workers’ time and handle more transactions.

In addition, these tools shore up billing inaccuracies that can mount into costly problems. A recent survey of middle-market executives showed that 42 percent of companies have yet to automate billing practices, yet they are grossly underestimating the costs of manual billing due in part to inaccurate inputs. Executives estimated that an invoice done manually costs their company just $2 on average when in reality the average cost is $20 because of the hidden factors inherent to this error-prone process.

Overall, the past year has given businesses a decade’s worth of lessons. Though it has forced enterprise tech companies and MSPs to overcome a multitude of challenges, it also has made managers at these companies confront some startling inefficiencies affecting their bottom line. 

Spurred on by more widespread use of automation and software solutions, this has led business leaders to optimize tasks and workloads that were costing precious resources. And even when the world returns to some sense of normalcy, these practices will remain characteristic of successful firms.

About The Author

Steve Powell is the CTO of Cloud Channel Platform at CloudBlue which includes CloudBlue PSA, a leading professional services automation solution.