Six Ways Startups Can Use Technology to Increase Productivity

Startups are trials by fire. As noted by Small Business Trends, when asked about the best way to learn more about entrepreneurship, more than half of business owners said, "Start a company."

But that's easier said than done. Along with finding a market niche, raising funds and making industry connections, startups face the hard truth of failure: While 80% of small businesses make it through their first year, just 56% survive past the five-year mark.

Part of the problem? According to Forbes, startup founders typically need two to three times longer than they predict to validate and scale up their business model, and 42% of innovations fail due to overly long development times.

New technologies can help streamline key processes, boost performance and deliver on startup potential. Here are six ways to mobilize IT and maximize productivity.

1. Task Automation

Manual processes are problematic. Given the sheer amount of time required for data entry and the potential for human error, manual tasks can negatively impact overall performance.

Task automation solutions help address this problem. By leveraging new capabilities such as intelligent data capture, optical character recognition (OCR) and cloud-based storage, it's possible to offload effort-intensive, error-prone tasks to advanced technology solutions or managed IT service providers, giving you more time to focus on fundamental business functions.

2. Data Integration

No matter the size or scope of your business, you're collecting data. This data comes from multiple sources, including customer transactions, service interactions, inventory management applications and internal HR and payroll solutions.

The problem? Fragmentation. When data sets don't share the same storage location, startups can't leverage emerging analytics solutions to uncover key patterns and discover actionable data. Integration services from reputable providers help connect disparate data sources to deliver on-demand insight.

3. Performance Analyzation

Do current operations align with performance expectations? Or, as the Forbes piece suggests, are things taking a little longer (or much longer) than expected? Performance analysis tools can help identify areas where your business has great intentions but less-than-ideal outcomes. For example, if you can pinpoint areas of production that aren't meeting deadlines, you can solve for the problematic process to reduce costs and improve overall performance.

4. Progress Supervision

Monitoring matters. Are your processes working as intended? How long are specific tasks taking, and how much do they cost? Cloud-based monitoring and management tools are critical to ensure existing operations meet intended outcomes. By tracking the progress of specific tasks within your organization - and the handoff of tasks across key process boundaries - you can identify and address areas of potential concern.

5. Online Communication

Many startups now prioritize remote work over in-office operations to reduce total overhead and ensure they're able to meet the demands of an evolving, mobile-first customer base. To ensure staff can collaborate and you can keep track of critical tasks, the right online communication tools are critical. From on-demand document sharing to web-based video conferencing and screen sharing, best-fit communication applications can improve productivity and streamline spending.

6. Systems Consolidation

Fragmented systems pose challenges for startups. The problem occurs naturally: As your business grows, technology solutions are typically adopted on an as-needed basis. While specific functions may deliver ROI, systems don't always work well together. This problem is made more pressing by the addition of legacy solutions (tools and technology that perform key actions but aren't equipped to handle the on-demand expectations of current startup markets).

It's critical for small businesses to ensure IT cooperation through systems consolidation. Identify outdated applications and software, update them as necessary and ensure the new IT environment works in concert. While it's possible to tackle this task in-house, startups are often best served by partnering with IT companies that have experience and expertise in creating comprehensive, collaborative systems.

Starting Strong

Startups remain a critical part of the nation's business backbone, pushing the market forward with new product and service innovations. But if startups are to succeed long-term, they need more than great ideas and work ethic. Backed by the right technologies, companies can maximize productivity and deliver on startup potential.

Guest Author

Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander is President of Innovative Technology Solutions, a leading provider of managed IT services. He has more than 20 years of experience in the industry - and focuses on leading the strategy, sales and service delivery for the company.