New technologies & Operation efficiency critical for SME growth

Small businesses with better time management are more likely to see growth than those with sub-standard organisation and are better suited to take advantage of the benefits new technologies can have for their business.

According to a report by Exact and the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR), small and medium sized businesses with above average levels of operational efficiency have greater productivity levels and are ‘considerably’ more successful in achieving sales growth. They also proved more optimistic about continuing to grow in the future.

The study based this measurement on 17 operational functions, with 757 SMEs talking part in the study from the manufacturing, professional services and wholesale & distribution sectors.

The report did take note of the external market factors that had impacted the small businesses involved, and also added that the adoption of new technologies had also helped some of these businesses toward improving performance and growth.

Ultimately, however, 70% of SMEs that considered themselves to have above average levels of operational efficiency saw sales figures increase last year, with just 8% experiencing falls. Just 50% of those with below average levels of operational efficiency saw sales figures grow, and 24% saw a decrease.

Out of the 3% of SMEs studied who had managed to increase their sales turnover by more than 100% last year, 56% had above average industry levels of operational efficiency, and none reported poor levels of the same.

The report also shows that the adoption of new software created better performance, with cloud and mobile solutions creating the biggest change for the better. One in five SMEs surveyed used cloud technologies, and 78% of those operating above industry standards.

“The majority of SMEs are focused on growth and many working at full or near capacity to achieve that, but not always focusing those efforts in the most productive way,” said Lucy Fox, general manager of Cloud Solutions at Exact UK.

“The quick way for small businesses to make immediate operational efficiencies is to invest in cloud and mobile technologies. Almost 80% of businesses already doing so are performing above their peers for operational efficiency and experiencing better growth performance.”

“While there is plenty of financial support being offered to SME businesses through growth accelerator funds and Government grants, more needs to be done to help support them in other ways, given many are just too busy to do anything about it,” she added.

“Time is one of the most valuable commodities SMEs have, and it needs to be invested wisely.”