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Alexandre RUIZ : employing digitalization is not an option but a necessity for a SMB

As part of our series of interviews with heads of companies and financial directors about growth issues and its structuring, this week we interviewed Alexandre Ruiz, CEO in AR Consulting.

Description of the activity

Humans are resistant to change. The key to the success of the transformation of the company is the support of all employees in the understanding and implementation of  the new processes. The goal of ARC is to support companies in their change and in their digital transformation to improve their operational efficiency. Within the framework of our missions, we particularly insist on the automation and securing of processes as well as the compression of time value.

We position ourselves like an interface between SMB and firms. We offer SaaS on both consulting and training as well as deployment.

Obstacles to the growth of SMB

The human factor is crucial in order to allow the growth of SMB. In a company with polyvalent colleagues, it is often difficult to add a workload. In addition, their work in a continuous flow complicates their involvement in a project of digital transformation.

Facing an increase in competition, longer payment terms, and the difficulty to delegate in confidence, SMB have to find gestion models which are more efficient.

Thus, SMB do not use every new methodology and tools which can be for various reasons :

  • They don’t have the information or the technological appetence to deploy it
  • They don’t have the will to change their patterns and they way of work
  • They focus on their commercial efficiency to the detriment of their operational one
  • They don’t have in-house human resources having the technical or methodological knowledge
  • They have difficulties in recruitment as well as in retention of important key skills
  • They don’t have the financial resources or they didn’t budget both their way of changing and their digital transformation.

Resistance to digital transformation is one of the biggest obstacles for the growth of SMB. Indeed, with globalization and the access to information and technology, if a technology is not digitized, it remains behinds its competitors in a single market. The services offered will no longer be necessary with the customer expectations which have evolved.

The understanding and support towards digitalization

Today, digital takes priority, at a professional level as well as at a personal one, so employing digitalization is not an option but a necessity for SMB. Mutualizing data and accumulating information are strategic stakes to secure the value of company. How? by basing it on processes and not only on people.

Integrating a digital information system leads to change in terms of management and business process. It therefore needs an adaptation time as well as a close support.

In this climate of unceasing societal and digital change, we support colleagues. We give them the means to prepare them and to not suffer from this evolution, but to become real actors. Thus, the colleague is at the heart of the change, to guarantee the adaptability and relevance of the different tools. We support them so that they create their own change. Indeed, they will wonder about their role, their posture, and their objectives in this transformation.

The change management is conducted by the company and co-built with every colleague. A SMB is represented by its directors. From the moment that they are fully implicated, the involvement of their colleagues to move into action will be in full force.

In order to succeed in implementing the digital transformation of SMB, we are closer with directors and colleagues. We want to offer them a support of proximity according to four points :

  • Strategy : adoption of a coherent strategy with the identity of the company according to its needs. The objectives are defined before.
  • Organization : preparation of the company by informing and determining the tasks of each colleague. Our goal is to succeed in establishing a virtuous circle between mission, assessment and remuneration.
  • Tools : research and deployment of tools adapted to the needs of the SMB. This will facilitate the compliance of colleagues and limit the costs.
  • Training : train colleagues to new ways of working and to new tools deployed for an optimal organizational performance.

An overview is implemented in the SMB to follow the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and to help directors in their decision making process. Employees also benefit from high quality data to successfully complete their mission.
We position ourselves like a real strategic partner for the SMB by supporting it during and after its digital transformation.

Stakes in the organisation

The world is changing faster than ever. The adaptability allows a company to face these changes, as societal and technological as regulatory.

Four factors shake the functioning of SMB up :

  • Customer experience : both in B2B and B2C, the level of exigence and the instability of customers imply for the company to move from a logic of product to a logic of use. This change leads to an in-depth review of the value chain, the organization of the company and its businesses that contribute to the customer experience.
  • The over-information and hyper-connection of customers : SMB have to take into account this new aspect of customers as well as the multiplication of contact points in the company, with its intern actors and its products and services.
  • Competitiveness of prices : it is an obvious and direct consequence of the evolution of customers and the expansion of the competitive field.
  • Weakening of competitive advantages : the apparition of new competitors in various parts of the globe with, for some of them, a destructive potential of disruption and innovation.

 

The opportunities offered to SMB by the digital transformation are various such as :

  • Increasing in the turnover by reaching a number of customers more important
  • Improving the productivity of the company by rationalizing operational processes
  • Developing innovation by decreasing the costs of deployment
  • Competing with big companies by being visible inexpensively and using the same tools
  • Enabling more flexibility to the employees by bringing them quality information and new ways of work

Conclusion

Digital transformation does not have to be felt like a threat but like an opportunity for SMB which have not yet taken the plunge. 2018 is the year of change with new regulatory obligations in accounting, for example, and data protection measures defined by RGPD and applicable at the end of May in Europe.

We support every employee in the company to climb on the bandwagon and differentiate themself from their competitors. We are the interface, the advice part as the technological one, when internal resources are not available to complete the digital transformation successfully.

In a human-sized structure like a SMB, it is easier to put the customer in the center of the company. So why not do it ?


Office Manager : Superhero of modern times

Office Manager is a key role. It can be considered a vital part of any company, which enables to connect the whole organization. They are responsible for the proper functioning of the office. They have to ensure the well-being of their employees and help to build a high and durable corporate culture.

At the line of Human Resources, Administration and Bookkeeping, the Office Manager has a lot of challenging missions. They have to collaborate efficiently with their colleagues and manage the relations with different service providers of the company (customers and suppliers).

It is not uncommon to see him juggling between customer invoices, order forms and employees expense accounts. The Superhero of modern times, the Office Manager is characterized by his adaptability and his foolproof resistance.

But in every story including a Superhero, there must be a villain who threatens the survival of human race. The Office Manager also has to face his worst enemy, against which he fights everyday : time. The multi-tasking and daily urgencies to which they have to answer kills fairly quickly their productivity. They are constrained to operate as and when and has less and less time to forecast and anticipate the needs of their colleagues.

As every Superhero, the Office Manager is not unbreakable. They have to have the right tools to complete their mission.

In front of the challenges they meet and the growing complexity of their activity, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents are not enough. He has to own performant and innovative solutions.

 

#1 : Slack

The Office Manager constitutes the nerve center of the company. He has to be able to obtain information he needs fairly quickly. He also has to be easily reachable by his colleagues.

For internal communication, Slack is the best tool. It will be the end of the email assemblies.

Slack is a collaborative communication platform which enables you to communicate, send documents, archive and create online team work to collaborate efficiently.

Slack also enables a more elaborate use with a lot of possible integration through various tools such as Dropbox, Trello, Twitter or even Google.

The icing on the cake, Slack also offers a lot of integration possibilities for those who want to maximize the customization.

 

#2 : Trello

Trello is a tool of collaborative tasks which supports you daily in the analysis of your work, your time and the management of your organisation.

The tool works with a card system for each task to complete. With the possibility to write comments, download attached document, create check-list, and add deadlines to be respected, etc.

The interest of Trello is that you can invite as many people as you want to work with you, freely. With a simple drag and drop, you attribute the different tasks to concerned people and they are immediately notified.

 

#3 : JulieDesk

JulieDesk will become your best friend. It is a service of a virtual assistant which enables you to manage all of your meetings and works, entirely by emails. The objective is to facilitate the management of your agenda from information included in emails.

“When you copy her in on an email, she will take the lead on the conversation. Indeed, she will find a slot which fits well for you and your interlocutor. Once the slot to speak with your interlocutor is found, she confirms the meeting in your dairy and sends the corresponding invitations. She can also note an event in your calendar or even cancel or shift a meeting instead of you if you ask her.”

The best tool to gain time and avoid the incessant back and forth with your different subjects.

 

#4 : Dunforce

The follow-up of your invoices and customer reminders are demanding tasks which ask for precision and organization and… time ! The tasks are repetitive, time-wasting and bring less value-added. And when the number of your generated invoices can be counted by the hundreds, it is very easy to be overwhelmed.

Dunforce has a mission to support the Office Manager in this activity. It automates the dunning process in a very intelligent way. A personalized roadmap for the follow-up of different kinds of invoices, multichannel reminders and overview to see the state of the money you are owed in no time at all. The objective is to simplify, to make it more efficient and enable you to have more time in this crucial activity.

At the end of the story, it is always the Superhero who wins. But at one condition : the one to have the right tools.

To learn more about our solution, click here!


JENNIFER GENESTIER : “THE OFFICE MANAGER IS A PILOT, HE IS NOT HERE TO EXECUTE THAT WE ASK HIM TO DO, HE IS HERE TO BE A SOURCE OF PROPOSALS”

This week we were interested for the first time in the job of office manager and that’s why we interviewed Jennifer Genestier, Founder & CEO of Gom&GO, an Office Managers recruitment agency.

 

Presentation of the activity

 

I have a lot of experience as an office manager. I was freelance and I have created an agency which serves as an interface between freelance missions of office managers and companies. So I have experience analyzing the companies’ market through these missions. Currently, I do not do a lot of office management anymore but I have done it a lot in the past, and I also worked with HR in helping the office management. That’s why my current vision is less precise and much broader.

 

Presentation of the job of office manager

 

1- Step backwards

The job of office manager largely consists in keeping an active watch because the market moves a lot and there is always something new to discover. What enables the office managers to achieve fulfillment and to evolve depends on the setup of the new tools enabling them to get rid of repetitive missions, and to become Happiness Managers, by working on the corporate culture, the wellness, the organization and the management.

 

Some years ago, the job of office manager did not exist in France. I arrived in this job 7-8 years ago and there were very few people who were working as an office manager. However, in France, we have a big background in the tertiary sector, executive assistant, management assistant, secretariat, etc.

 

When the job appeared, new roles were added. It created various profiles, enabling them to merge skills and roles into one position. This answered the needs of the growing companies.

 

 

 2- Office Manager vs Executive Assistant

 

The job of office manager is still very new. Indeed, when we talk about it, people assume that it is just another title for Executive Assistant. But the jobs are not the same at all. The office manager is like a pilot. He is not here to execute what we ask him to do. He is here to be source of proposals, to bring improvement for the well-being, to watch over the market, the network and the ecosystem of the company. It is here where the office manager acts. It constitutes a real link between each cell of the company, internal or external. This is not merely administrative, accounting, or commercial work.

 

 

3- An atypical profile

 

This job was created with certain skills and expertise because most professionals were trained in this field. There are people who are more apt to HR, others who are more financial, whereas others will be more commercial. Each person will develop their identity in this way. We realize that it is thanks to these things that the office managers are able to learn on the spot and grow to help their company.

 

It is also important to see everything one is able  to do with only the skills of an office manager. They can be CEO because they know how to manage and administer a company. The office manager must be multi-skilled. That’s why the tools they use will help save time for the executive side of management. With more time, they will be able to focus on the big picture of the job which is to pilot, to connect between tools and humans, to ensure that it corresponds to the corporate culture and management. It is from here that they become Happiness Managers.

 

 

4- A job which tends to evolve

 

Over the last few years, we have seen a transition from managers being focused on a single aspect, to now where they must be able to perform in several different functions. However, with the emergence of new tools to assist them, it has made the transition much smoother. Slack was a revolution for office managers; all of a sudden they were able to communicate, share things, bring an added value and well-being to their job. They gradually became Happiness Managers. Today, we use QuickBooks, Slack, Trello etc. As soon as start developing a need, a new tool seems to emerge to simplify the job in order to work more efficiently.

 

 

Dunforce, an opportunity for the office managers

 

Dunforce can be an interesting tool particularly for a freelancer who has a recovery activity before litigation. Now, there are many freelancers who do this. This would save them a lot of time, thus improving the well-being and productivity. Freelancers and Office Managers were very scarce in Paris at the time. But after the emergence of tools such as Dunforce, it makes their job easier so they can focus on other important aspects of the company. As we continue to transition into the world of tech, we may see and emergence of tools to automate some of the duties of an office manager.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The job of office manager is still scarcely known today, or used under a different name. However, it is one of the most important positions in the modern day of business. The office manager is the driving force in the organization and the link between the different cells of the company. True autodidacts, they are not here to execute what they are asked. If the job of office manager tends to develop or to extend, the implementation of new tools will further promote its evolution and the well-being of its users becoming real happiness managers by focusing more on corporate culture.

 

CEO: 10 Projects to improve your productivity

1 – Go through all your processes

You will have more time to refocus yourself. You’ll have a global display of your activity and all the related processes. Thus, you will be able to better identify the issues and eliminate them before Fall. This strategic analysis enables you to better identify the silos of your organisation but also to understand how you can save time for your team and improve their productivity all at once.

So, write down your processes and ask your collaborators, to improve your own vision. Moreover, this vision allows you to enhance your empathy, knowing more precisely the difficulty in doing each task. Thus, you’re closer to your teams and you’re showing them your devotion! You can use Draw.io to clarify those processes by displaying them as a diagram.

2 – Plan ahead to improve your productivity

Use this summer time to take a step back in the general situation of your company. Analyse the past year’s results to fix your next goals and priorities. Will you focus on looking for new customers or in making plans to maximise the growth with your current clients? Or maybe even both?

Think about the areas of improvement and the new ideas that you could set up before Fall. Boost your business by structuring it.
Make sure that each idea matches your strengths. Your global vision must be in synch with your goals.
And for these ideas to be implemented, create a Gantt diagram which will allow you to know the production time but also to follow the progress of the projects. MacroGantt is a very intuitive and accessible tool to create this kind of diagram.

3 – Rethink communication and information sharing

A good communication within the company allows to achieve efficiency.
You can use a platform to share instantly all of your files with everyone.
Thereby, everybody sees in real time the progress for each project thanks to the chats which facilitate the exchanges. For example, we think of the projects and team management online platform Teamwork with which you can have a global view of everyone’s projects and their progress and which facilitates communication and information sharing.

4 – Transform your meetings

It’s time to eliminate useless and time-consuming meetings. Not often effective, they stop the work and don’t require everybody’s attendance. To avoid it, you can, for example, condense your weekly meetings.
Make a one-hour video conference each week that everybody will follow even if people are not at the office.
Another way to make your meetings more dynamic and participative: the Klaxoon platform. It offers many ways to animate and make your meetings less monotonous thanks to simple, ludic and effective activities: quiz, polls, challenges, brainstorming, instant messaging, etc …
At the end of the meeting, don’t forget to clearly define the next steps and goals for everyone, and especially, to keep a written record so it can be a basis that you can use at your next meeting.

 

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5 – Offer personalized training plans

Use this summer time to detect the talents and strengths of your employees. Pay attention to their competences and their skills to be improved in order to establish a personalized training plan for each of them. Thanks to this they can deepen their knowledge and improve their productivity. You will gain, in turn, more efficient employees and will be ready to face new and emerging challenges!
To help you in this project you have the possibility to use a talent HR management software as Talentsoft, it collects the requests and training needs to propose targeted and personalized offers.

6 – Value your teams !

What is more motivating for your employees to feel valuable at work? Do not hesitate to put the growth figures in real-time. Your progress remind to your teams that their work has value.
Send a weekly newsletter to all your collaborators to show the good results and acknowledge the general efforts. Finally, use positive adjectives to highlight unity and quality. You can use social collaborative networks such as Workplace or Yammer to simplify this communication and transparency.

7 – Develop your business culture

Enhance your Employee experience to attract and keep the best talents. For that, start to redefine the roles of your employees by offering them responsibilities which are more motivating.
And why not try intrapreneurship? Nothing better to promote initiative and autonomy, moreover this is a fantastic opportunity to fulfill themselves through their work and innovate. Leave your employees free to try the “test and learn” method.
Allow teleworking, your employees will lose less time in transports and therefore they will spend more time working. Less stress and more flexibility will make your teams more competitive and motivated with a better productivity.

8 – Start automating your back-office tasks

With our current technology, we are able to automate the tedious and time-consuming tasks. It allows you to focus on higher value added tasks. Summer is the perfect moment to refocus yourself on your activities. Thus, you will be able to see which tasks are the easier to automate and that you really want to get off in order to improve your productivity.

Your employees have better things to do than spending time on boring tasks and often tedious such as dunning outstanding receivables. This is a great occasion to digitize your company and be ready before the rush of the new year. To help you, we can mention our smart virtual assistant, which simplifies the dunning process in automating cleverly and in protecting your customer relationship.

9 – Invest in a more efficient and modern equipment

Take advantage of the reduction in attendance of offices and the holidays departure of your employees to enhance the working space. Replace the old computers with faster equipment. And think about the workstations ergonomics. We often think that the work office is a simple place where work accidents do not exist. However, in the real world, to leave dysfunctional equipment (even chairs) can create various issues linked to the well-being and comfort of any employee. Your employees will be very pleased of the attention given to their well-being at work and won’t loose time anymore with computers that don’t work, internet cuts, back pains …
Have a look on Fellowes website which offers office equipment adapted to every work environments.

10 – Promote a collaborative work in recreating an appropriate workspace

To rethink the way to work promotes the communication, innovation and motivation within the teams. It also boosts creativity and initiative. Sharing different points of view engages constructive dialogues which might end on new and better ideas.

To promote this state of mind within your company, nothing better than to create an informal relaxing area. It encourages us to share and allows to release the ideas which would not necessarily have been evoked in a formal space of meeting.

 

Find the list of tools to improve the well-being of your teams.

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CEO: 10 tools to improve the well being of your teams

What is the CEO’s role in the organization ?

The CEO’s role in the organization is a strategic one. It is on his shoulders that the main decisions are placed and the responsibility of a company functioning efficiently. True “orchestra conductor”, his manager’s qualities are very important to ensure economic balance and to define and apply an enterprise strategy. Another indispensable CEO’s quality : how to surround themself. It means that they have to hire people who are better than him in each strategic positions of the company. However, hiring good people is not enough. He must give them responsibilities and give meaning to their work as mentioned in our previous article. Therefore, it is now indispensable to set up the right tools in order to make your teams more productive. Indeed, the digital transformation is a well-being and growth factor, as mentioned in our previous article.

Thus we will evoke here 10 tools which will help you to structure better your organization and to strengthen your foundations.

 

1.GOOGLE G-SUITE

To start with the organization, we will mention Google G-suite, including Drive, Word, Excel and Powerpoint online! So you can create any document online and share it with anyone internally or externally. The best way to make your teams collaborate and keep all documents in the Cloud avoiding any loss..

 

2-SLACK

To continue about the organization, you need a tool to communicate internally! Slack can become your best friend. Forget the emails and Whatsapp groups where all the information is lost, you will converse very fast with everyone avoiding time loss.

 

3-GOOGLE ANALYTICS & TAG MANAGER

To understand your customers and their buying journey, Google Analytics and Tag manager will be your best friends. A SEO/SEM specialist will be indispensable in your organization so that you can position yourself over the long term on the research engines and in your customers’ mind. This tool will enable him to search continually improvements and thus to set up an ongoing process of optimization of conversations.

 

4-SALESFORCE

The famous CRM for your sales teams. Here, our choice is on the market leader, Salesforce. This tool will enable your teams to keep track of all the exchanges that they had with their customers. This “memory” enables your salespeople to be more relevant with your customers. Think about the connection between your Gmail, Salesforce, Hubspot or also Google analytics. The linking of tools avoids information loss.

 

5-LINKEDIN SALES NAVIGATOR

Still for your salespeople, we noticed a big transformation in the way of contacting and following customers. Thus LinkedIn and the social selling have become a new development lever. The Sales Navigator subscription enables your teams to contact any sales lead. With this you can adopt a qualitative approach more interesting for the conversions than the simple cold calling.

 

6-HUBSPOT

To stay in customer analysis and their segmentation it will be important to set up a marketing tool to automate the top of the commercial “pipe”. Hubspot is now the strongest tool of the market to make a “lead scoring” (analysis of the sales leads’ behaviour and rating) to which we can attach automation scenarios promoting conversion.

 

7-MOZ

Digitizing brings big changes in the marketing strategies, the natural referencing also called SEO becomes one of the most important strategies. Thus, tools such as Moz enable you to optimise your strategy. In analyzing your key words, in creating backlinks or also in making an audit directly on your website, MOZ will give you the keys of sucess for your SEO.

 

8-PAYFIT

To help your administrative teams in the management of payments, we chose to present Payfit. It makes the  management of payments easier helping you in the initial settings. It also automates the social declarations avoiding mistakes and loss which can be the source of URSSAF sanctions for example. It avoids time loss linked to payment.

 

9-DUNFORCE

For your dunning notices, the best solution is the virtual assistant Dunforce. It automates your dunning notices by duplicating your processes. Your customers receive emails from your address, mails with your headed paper, they don’t notice anything. Dunforce helps you to structure your dunning notices but above all not to lose time with the scoring anymore and to focus yourself on the essential things, to exchange with your customer to make him decide to pay.

 

10-LUNCHR

To conclude with a solution dedicated to the well-being of your employees, you must integrate Lunchr. This application offers to strengthen your teams around the lunch break! By making your lunch time funnier you bring your teams closer and create a great dynamic in the organization. And it is not all! They’ve just launched themselves in the meal voucher market, so let your collaborators enjoy this application and a credit card instead of the paper is distributed and then get lost most of the time.

 

CEO, the new coach of the company

Nowadays, the CEO is the coach of the company. He musts help and do everything he can so that his collaborators (and not his employees) feel fulfilled in their jobs. The new digital tools make the  job of collaborators easier by providing a precious help in all of their tasks, as detailed in one of our articles. In 2018, the CEO must be the engine of change in his organization and take the position of educator instead of an omnipotent chief. This help and this coaching become more and more important with the innovation rhythm we are facing. Helping your teams will be guarantee for success and growth. Pay attention to your desire of controlling everything, it will demotivate teams and the heart of your organizations.