5 tips for creating a stellar digital plan for your small business

You know you need it. In fact, you’re already doing it. But are you doing it right? We’re talking, of course, about using digital tools to drive your business. 

As we explored in our previous blog on doing digital right, digitisation matters more than ever. According to SmartCompany’s annual survey of SMEs in Australia, it’s one of the top priorities for business leaders right now – with almost half (47%) of respondents reckoning that they still have some work to do in getting their digital strategy up to scratch.

If you’re one of them, then read on for practical steps you can take to build a digital plan that will carry your business into the future. 

1. Start simply, and don’t rush

Businesses went into overdrive to set up new digital tools during the global pandemic. This is completely understandable. As work went remote, urgent demands for cloud-based collaboration and productivity tools surfaced to help people stay in jobs and get work done. 

Yet many businesses are now experiencing technical debt. They invested in all these new tools to support remote workforces, and now they’re paying for stuff they either don’t need or aren’t getting full value from. 

It’s a great lesson. Intense external pressures to go digital – hello, COVID – can make it seem like speeding through the process is a good idea. In COVID’s case, it was unavoidable. Yet a strategy is worth nothing if it’s not strategic. So if you’re building a digital plan now, take the time to assess your fundamental business needs and objectives, hold workshops with key user groups, and get ready for step two, which is all about exploring your options. 

2. Compare the market 

The digital collaboration economy has exploded over the past two years. There’s a whole world of competing software and platforms – particularly in the collaboration and productivity space – each with their own pros and cons. How do you find the right one for your business? How do you make sure it satisfies the needs of all your user groups, while delivering on your business objectives, today and into the future? 

Time your time to compare each option. Talk to vendors, negotiate on price, and build a solid business case. You might even find that some solutions actually save you money. As Docusign’s Bethany Nyberg said in the SmartCompany report, “The hard dollar savings that an eSignature solution like Docusign delivers can be counted in a number of ways. These include the cost of paper, printing and postage, the cost of losing paper documents in a fire or flood and the time gained from sealing deals faster.”

3. Check for easy integration with existing workflows

When shopping for new digital solutions, a really important step that can often be overlooked is the capacity for the new platform to slot right in with your existing workflows. If your team uses Microsoft day in, day out, then you’re not going to want to sign up for a tool that’s completely outside of the Microsoft ecosystem. These days, digitisation is all about streamlining your systems to make life easier for all.

By making sure new tools are easily integrated, you’re safeguarding against the risk that new investments aren’t used to their full potential. It goes without saying that Docusign integrates with all the leading software solutions in market today. From Microsoft and Salesforce, to iOS and Google, plus hundreds more, you can plug Docusign right in to the tools your teams are using now. 

4. Prioritise cybersecurity 

Cyberattacks are on the rise, particularly due to the proliferation of endpoints in business networks with more people working from home. In fact, 89% of Australian workplaces surveyed for this year’s Australia Security Insights Report experienced cyber attacks related to employees working from home.  

It’s why security should be at the top of your list when building a digital plan. You’ll find that the public clouds have watertight security protocols in place, which will help to protect your data. Yet it’s still up to you to make sure you’ve got the systems and processes in place within your business to help prevent attacks. Things like multi-factor authentication, automatic software updates, and automatic back-ups should be built into your plan and rolled out across all users. 

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to security – or you want to make sure you’re ticking off on all the right security strategies – the Australian Government’s Small Business Cyber Security Guide is a great place to start.

5. Deliver the best customer experiences

When it comes to the crunch, any digital tools you invest in should do their bit to help build your business. And this generally comes down to attracting and retaining customers. Without customers, where would you be? 

Put your customer hat on when building your digital plan. Ask yourself how new tools will help to make your customers’ lives easier. It may be an AI platform that makes personalised product recommendations. A chatbot that provides helpful answers as customers browse. An eSignature platform that saves time when interacting with your business. 

Whatever it is, think about what your customers need and want from your business, and how technology can deliver on these needs. 

Want more insights? 

Doing digital right is just one of the top priorities facing small businesses right now. To see what else is on the mind of business leaders, please read the SmartCompany report, Unpacking the state of SMEs in 2021.

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