Nothing beats learning from those who have already been there, done that and got the whole wardrobe of T-shirts.
In this series we gather advice from successful Welsh entrepreneurs, bringing together their quotes and opinions, to inspire and guide you to ever-greater business growth.
Sir Terry Matthews
(Photo: Laura Leyshon/CP)
Sir Terry Matthews is one of the best known figures in Welsh business. He co-founded Mitel, sold his stake to British Telecom, then built Newbridge Networks and sold it to Alcatel.
He heads up Wesley Clover, an investment management firm he founded in 1972, and has formed and sold multiple successful businesses, and invested in numerous spinoffs and start-ups. Current projects include the expansion of Celtic Manor Resort and the Newport-based Alacrity Foundation.
Business Growth Advice
1. Gather Customer Feedback
“When planning to start Mitel I travelled near and far to learn about potential customers, their needs and feedback. I held round tables, took copious notes and made sure I let my clients know I was listening to them.
The notes I took helped Mitel produce more than what the competitors could offer and became the foundation for solid relationships”.
“If you don’t spend money on R and D, you will definitely die.”
“Growing a successful business is all about building relationships – with the team members, with clients and potential clients and with the supply chain – not to forget government industry and export departments, banks, insurance and accounting firms”.
” Share your story with your contacts. Leverage high profile individuals in your network who can serve as connectors to future business opportunities or talent”.
What support resources are available to train staff? Such as: training videos and documents, free demo, email/help desk support, FAQ/knowledge base access.
Most products are priced on a “per user, per month” basis.
How much are additional features such as optical character reader (OCR) integration, version control, workflow automation, and document scanning?
Check integration with your other key systems such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs, E-Mails, Accounting, CRM, HR, Cloud Storage, Open APIs and Project Management.
This ensures scalability and allows company-wide document text searches, for example, during internal or external audits.
What security credentials are in place against external threats (such as hacking and data breaches) and internal threats (such as employee theft)? Latest protocols include AES and SSL/TLS encryption.
Document Scanning and Imaging
Consider Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which converts written documents into a digital format.
Scanning and digitally storing paper documents with accurate keyword indexing helps user searches.
Do you simply need an off-site automatic backup, to sync, store and share files (such as OneDrive, Dropbox for Business or Google Drive)? Or do you need the benefits of collaboration, editing, workflows, access control, image management, distribution, compliance, indexing, conversion and OCR a document management solution provides?
Many cloud backup providers are US-based. Review UK-based providers or ensure your provider:
Is GDPR compliant
Encrypts ‘at rest’ stored backups
Avoids the Patriot Act (gives US Government access to data held)
Has good backup and recovery speeds
Has strong customer support, such as 24-hour UK-based technical advice by phone and email
Holds ISO9001 or ISO27001 certification, for reassurance customer data is secure
Has their own data centre, or if it is outsourced to a third party, who this is, where data is stored, and track record for cybersecurity
Keeping data secure is top priority for online storage services. This is done by:
Encryption – all information is encrypted as industry standard.
Identity management – robust layers of security are used, such as passwords and user permissions.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) – Two-factor authentication (confirming identity by phone or e-mail), or additional layers.
Multiple data centres – information is split between units for added security.
Examples of Document Management Systems to consider, as reviewed by Capterra, Startups.co.uk, SoftwareAdvice.com and TechRadar:
1. Microsoft OneDrive
Easy use, fast load speed, mobile, low cost, live syncing of devices, file sharing, online editing, encryption,two-factor authentication and handy tutorials.
2. Dropbox Business
Strong security controls, user-friendly, fast transfers, device auto-sync, editing and colleague collaboration.
3. Google Drive
15GB free storage, easy-to-use, online editing tools, encryption, excellent app, fast data transfer, device syncings, needs stricter password settings.
4. Logical DOC
Content management solution for all business size and sectors. Access control, communication, permission and file management, drag and drop interface, customisable branding.
Pre-built document templates, tools to search uploaded documents, bookmark specific files, convert into multiple formats, edit documents and import or export content from ZIP archives, e-mail boxes and desktop devices.
Version control, integrated HTML editor, digital watermarking, optical character recognition (OCR) and multilingual full-text indexing. On-premise or cloud hosted. Phone support.
Branding, marketing and digital asset management (DAM) tools for businesses of all sizes.
Manage, maintain and distribute public and private digital assets, including videos, documents, and images.
Organise company digital assets into a centralised, searchable, database that can be accessed by any employee from any location. Two-factor authentication, access and editing rules can be set on an individual or peer-group bases.
Cloud-deployed platform, can be accessed from any web browser.
Suitable for companies of all sizes and industries. On-premise or in the cloud.
Manage digital data through automated organisation, approvals and sharing from one dashboard. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) automatically names files, builds a dynamic directory, and sends them where they need to go.
Integration with Salesforce, drag and drop and manage files from either system. Mobile device access – take pictures of documents and upload directly to the app.
Suitable for companies of all sizes and industries. Security and admin controls, sharing and collaboration capabilities for global users.
Compliance with HIPAA, FINRA and FedRAMP, granular access permissions and advanced security capabilities – watermarking, data governance and device trust.
Collaboration on all file types and devices, choose where to store data, manage encryption keys, set metadata-driven workflows to automate content-based processes.
Integration with Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Salesforce, Adobe and others. Integration across open APIs.
Scalable, invoice processing, many integrations, Cloud-based, mobile support, ‘cloud workflow’, mobile apps – scan receipts, approve invoices, and sign forms on the go.
User-friendly, document upload, sharing, collaboration, storage and archiving, full-text Search, access controls, indexing, file type conversion, Version/Revision Control, Optical Character Recognition.
10. Zoho Docs
User-friendly, document upload, sharing, collaboration, storage and archiving, full-text Search, access controls, indexing, file type conversion, Version/Revision Control, Optical Character Recognition
Tech Tools can assist your business growth, by providing efficient project management, increasing customer sales, automating financial management and much more.
Use our blog series to understand the advantages and disadvantages of tech tool options.
Part 4: E-Mail Marketing Software
E-Mail Marketing is one of the most cost-effective and easy-to-manage marketing tools for businesses.
E-Mail Marketing automation tools create, send, test, optimise and report on email campaigns.
There are specific tools such as email subject line generators or inbox placement testing tools, and suites of e-mail marketing end-to-end tools, from e-mail automation to demand generation and revenue attribution.
For further information see https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/modern-guidebook-email-marketing
– automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows to increase operational efficiency and revenue
– time savings, to allow employees to focus on creativity and strategy
– cost-effective, with no advertising fees or media costs.
– permission-based leading to greater customer responsiveness
– performance reporting to improve ROI
– retain full control, and establish direct contact with customers
– create engaging, personalised emails
– allows subscribers to share your email content to attract new followers and customers.
– manage contacts and segment users into groups for optimal results
– scalability – use e-mail marketing to its fullest potential while delivering the best experience for subscribers
– A/B testing of subject lines, calls-to-action, personalisation, content and images to ensure effectiveness.
– forecast future campaign performance based on historical data, using machine learning and AI
Business growth requires consistent process-improvement and innovative marketing practices. Tech Tools allow efficiency in raising market profile, organising resources, nurturing client relationships and protecting assets.
Use our blog to understand the advantages and disadvantages of tech tools in promoting business growth.
Part 3: Social Media Management Software
Social Media Management Tools allow you to automate your social media accounts, expand social reach, curate content, improve ad performance, analyse impact and monitor conversations about your business and competitors.
– Manage social media accounts and performance from one integrated platform
– Streamline activities to save time and optimise social media marketing
– Benchmark effectiveness of organic and paid social channels and videos
-Turn social media data into actionable insights to maximise ROI
– Build better strategy, content, and advertising by audience analysis
– Discover posts to promote, when to publish, and audience segments, to increase conversions
– Oversee, assign and approve team social media publishing across multiple profiles using a collaborative calendar, on desktop or mobile
– Choose Influencers most compatible with your audience based on AI recommendations, gauge their engagement and track KPIs in social media influencer campaigns
– Create customised dashboard reports to visualise results and aid data-driven decisions
– Time to understand and correctly use the platform
– Security risk if forget to revoke access permissions for ex-employees
– Cost of software, but free versions exist, plus time saved and extra sales should mitigate this
Scheduling – save time and effort by bulk-scheduling multiple messages in advance across social media networks
Mobile App – manage content anytime and anywhere
Web Extension – upload posts you discover while surfing the web, instantly post without logging in to social accounts. Create search streams by hashtag, location, or keyword
Content Calendar – plan and curate content, review and approve scheduled posts, collaborate with your team in real-time
Content Library – Organise content by tagging, search, and usage stats. Store and access content in the cloud —including Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive — from a dashboard
Analytics – prove social media impact and ROI, create and export custom reports in Excel, Powerpoint, PDF and CSV, bring data results to life with powerful analytics features
Insights – Get a clear understanding of social post performance across channels, track results by timeframes
Monitoring– build custom boards to create insightful reports with an intuitive interface. Draw on hundreds of metrics to measure social media content impact across channels and campaigns.
Team Management – measure team metrics, track time taken to respond and resolve posts and comments. Safeguard social media presence by managing access to social accounts and setting team member permission levels
Check your preferred Social Media Management tool enables:
– social media scheduling in a single content calendar
– real-time team collaboration to plan posts and assign timely responses
– accurate analytics reporting
– integration with current apps
– RSS feed imports, to simplify and assist sharing content such as blogs
– custom-branded URLs
– engagement tools eg contest creation
– topic, keyword, and location conversation-monitoring
– recycling of posts indefinitely (known as evergreen content)
– tangible insights into audience reach
Ease of Use
Trial a few systems to discover which best fits your business needs, and obtain feedback from team members.
Work out who will use it and for what purposes, to identify essential features.
The software should boost efficiency, consistency and response times, because all social media conversations are seen in one place, meaning you can prioritise activities and create a shared library of on-brand social assets.
The number of social profiles managed, amount of scheduled posts and the complexity of features such as analytics and tracking will determine price.
Most Social Media Management systems have free versions, typically with limited profiles, posts and features.
Check the social networks you need to use can be managed by your preferred Social Media Management tool.
For example, in addition to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Twitter, can it schedule and measure with Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit?
Also, if necessary for your business, with international platforms such as Tencent, Baidu, Viber or VK?
Ensure you can add the power of social media to the tools you already use, such as CRM (see CRM Systems For Business Growth), E-Commerce (such as Shopify, Opencart and Magento), Communication (such as Skype, SharePoint and Hipchat), Data Integration (such as Zapier, IFTTT and Skyvia),and Project Management Software Project Management Software).
Examples of Social Media Management Tools
Platforms to consider, as reviewed by Tech Radar, E-Clincher and Wordstream, include:
An established platform with all the necessary applications and robust features including content creation, curation, organisation, bulk scheduling (upload several posts at a time) and RSS integration.
The free plan includes management of 3 social profiles, scheduling 30 posts in advance (queued), basic tracking analytics, contest creation, 2 RSS feed integrations, team features and custom branded URLs.
A well-known platform for managing multiple social profiles. Schedule content while web browsing with a Chrome extension, get suggestions on best times to post based on follower activity, and integrate with Google Analytics.
The free plan includes management of 3 social profiles, scheduling 10 posts, browser extensions and mobile apps, content creation, real-time analytics, team features, shortening plus tracking links, and an RSS feed integration.
Zoho Social helps manage multiple profiles, research relevant keywords, work with team members, and schedule posts from one dashboard. It syncs with Facebook lead ads, offers advanced reporting features and CRM integration.
Zoho Social’s free plan allows management of 1 brand, and includes a URL shortener and SocialShare plugins.
Sprout Social is a one-stop shop for managing and scheduling all social media accounts through a simple-to-use platform, and a powerful tool for analysing data by demographic and geographic measures.
It can manage multiple accounts and monitor keywords across social media, to bring awareness of when you are discussed online, and help you respond quickly to customers. Sprout Social has a social inbox, and basic team features.
CoSchedule is known for its social calendar feature – to schedule and organise all social media posts. It has basic publishing features and ReQueue – intelligent software that schedules the top posts in your social history.
CoSchedule does not offer social monitoring, listening, or keyword searches. It has a separate dashboard for each client, re-usable task templates, social approval, and custom reports.
Agora Pulse has a variety of useful features – social engagement, publishing, listening, reports, and team collaboration. It allows auto-posting to queue evergreen posts, and content labelling to retrieve and analyse posts.
Agora Pulse has a Social Inbox feature for interacting with followers in one place and viewing every profile. It has social monitoring and keyword searches, plus team sharing features.
Snapchat lets users create short-lived ‘stories’ for user interaction. Snaplytics takes regular snapshots of your Snapchat account and offers insights and benchmarking, plus a library of previously created content to view engagement levels and for republishing.
Snaplytics supports scheduling stories for later publication, organised by tags for easy tracking. Its elegant dashboard displays marketing performance on a platform-by-platform basis.
Simply Measured (by Sprout Social) is a more expensive, in-depth social media analytics tool.
It offers free reports on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, and sophisticated subscriber reports, including date and time engagement analysis and content type analysis. This allows you to publish the types of content that work best, at optimal times for your community.
Whilst the above platforms are excellent tools for raising profile and driving sales, be aware of Social Media basics to ensure your efforts yield positive results (see Social Media Basics):
Quality – Publish content that people want to share, and that will last (see Content Marketing).
Quantity – Quantity is critical as new material will quickly override yours. Be consistent with posts, and re-post new content several times.
Posting – Social media audiences vary, so use data to determine how and when to post. Experiment with different times to identify the most effective to reach your customer types.
Hashtags – Be strategic with hashtags, @mention those that matter on each post. If creating a branded hashtag, make it easy to spell and say, eye-catching and memorable.
Goals – Know what follower behaviour you are trying to drive, so what channels and activities to concentrate on, and what metrics to measure to track success. For example:
– Increased Brand Awareness Use activities to collect and share customer testimonials, and highly-shareable content.
– Increased Traffic and Conversions Find opportunities to engage with relevant, interested customers who are ready to buy, and measure Click-through rate (CTR). – Increased Engagement Start by responding to most user mentions, questions, and comments, then analyse this data to build a solid content strategy.
Measure follower numbers and how well your audience is responding to your content, such as number of shares, comments, mentions, and retweets.
Influence – Target Influencers that have audiences you want to reach. Tools such as Klout and Social Authority provide “influence scores.” Twitter and Google give rankings for topic influencers, and relevant forums contain influencers.
Sentiment – Analyse the tone of a topic conversation using automated tools such as Boardreader or Mention, to see if people love, hate or are indifferent to your brand.
Conversation Drivers – Use Social Listening to work out when and how to start interactions with customers who may be interested in your service.
Monitor the topics and context of conversations about you, your competition, and your sectors. For example, who customers perceive as your competition and what concerns they’re sharing about your products.
Choosing A Project Management System – Considerations
It’s important to find the project management tool that best fits your business.
Work out who will use it and what the business needs are, to identify essential features and interfaces.
PM Software gives an overview of current projects plus detailed information on work underway to progress them.
Reporting features vary – most provide budget and resource (workers, materials, money) management, some offer, for example, time tracking and status reports.
People involved in a project use the PM app to see their designated tasks, update their progress, enter time spent and share documents.
Check the software integrates with your existing systems where necessary, for example, in recording labour hours and expenses, messaging, and task setting, and that is is as customisable and intuitive as needed.
Many PM solutions include storage space for uploading files into the workspace for team viewing and discussion.
They often have an option to connect to third-party online storage services, such as Box, Google Drive, or OneDrive, so files can be linked or uploaded from them.
Consider choosing software used by clients and companies you work with, to co-ordinate easily with them, saving time and money.
Ease of Use
PM Software can have impressive features and capabilities, but these might over-complicate basic functions like adding and updating tasks, which may reduce team compliance and increase costs.
Use free trials to test usability – get team feedback on preferences, problems and work impact.
The benefit of a good PM system is that your team logs into one workspace and has everything at hand to get work done.
This might include a prioritised to-do list, all necessary assets, colleague notes, a calendar of deadlines, live-chat, integrated or connected communications, a place to find answers, and billing tools.
Design an implementation plan to help team members learn and use the new PM application in their daily workflow.
Providers usually charge either a flat monthly rate or a rate per user. Generally teams with over 10 people will save by choosing a flat rate plan.
Most offer a substantial discount for committing to a full year rather than paying monthly.
Often platforms aimed at small businesses will charge a flat monthly rate, whilst those that prefer larger enterprises typically have a per-user-per-month fee structure.
Additionally, PM platforms with many permissions levels – such as for executives, portfolio managers, project managers, and team members – suggest they are aimed at larger companies.
Complexity of features, number of users and storage space will determine price.
Some PM systems have free versions, which limit the number of projects managed, features and storage space available. For example, Teamwork Projects, Zoho Projects and TeamGantt.
Access to web-based PM software is through the internet, with data stored via remote hardware. Installed PM software is stored to local computers and servers.
Risk management involves the identification, evaluation, and mitigation of risks, and is often included in PM solutions, specifically focused on risks to a project.
Separate risk management software covers full company risk assessment and implementation.
Similar Software That Overlaps with PM Systems
Workflow Management Software
Projects are a specific type of work with a start date, end date, and deliverables – as opposed to ongoing work with no clear beginning or end date, and recurring tasks, such as answering calls or fixing glitches.
Workflow management software assists ongoing work, and is more flexible and less prescribed than PM software.
It is sometimes treated as a standalone tool, and other times incorporated into PM apps, for example, Asana.
Or it may have PM apps within it. Workfront and Podio allow the addition of workflow management tools. Kanban
Kanban is a type of workflow management system.
Traditional Kanban systems use cards along boards, labelling the task a card represents, the work needed on it, and when it is due.
Cards travel along the board from “to do,” “doing,” and “done.” Kanban software digitizes the process for ease of use and collaboration.
Kanban apps are used by software development teams.They visually display and help control the amount of new work taken on before current work is completed, to avoid overload.
Gantt Chart PM Software
Gantt chart project management software is used to make bar charts that visually display work to be done in a designated time, critical paths, task relationships, progress, and baselines to track deviations.
Look for software with extra features such as project planning, collaboration and resource management.
Task Management Software
Project management apps do include task management features in them, but standalone task management apps are available if sufficient to requirements.
Apps allow assignment of tasks to individuals, adding descriptions, deadlines, and attached documents to each, but not necessarily as part of a larger project.
Task-management apps work well for ongoing work.
Collaboration software is different from true project management software, which is more specific.
Collaboration software has many different apps and services, from video conference calls to letting two people type on a document at the same time.
Modern PM services often include native communication and collaboration tools, and may allow connection to collaboration apps your team already uses, such as Slack or Google Docs.
Project Portfolio Management Software
Project portfolio management focuses on the big picture – projects are grouped together into portfolios, for example, by company, department, or sector.
Whereas PM software supports individual projects but doesn’t provide an overview of all projects.
They may share similar features, such as collaboration, budget and task management.