The assumption many people make is that innovation is the domain of visionaries like Elon Musk or Apple – but it can help businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Innovation isn’t inventing new ways of doing business; it’s about making changes – no matter how small. Whether you are adding value, improving your processes or creating an entirely new product, innovation is about taking a different approach, finding ways to be better than the competition.
Every business has room for improvement
If you have a successful business, innovation can seem irrelevant – you have plenty of business coming in, so why change a good thing?
But every business has room for improvement, even if you start small.
Innovation can be as simple as a new idea or way of doing something. It could apply to your whole business model, or just to one small aspect of your business – from how you communicate with customers to how you manage delivery orders.
The underlying aim is to improve outcomes by making something more effective or efficient. That something could be a product, service or internal process.
For Koshi Sushi (an MYOB Exo client), a distributor supplying over 20,000 pieces of sushi to Melbourne cafes and restaurants every day, innovation came in the form of an ERP system.
READ: What is an ERP system?
The business had relied on spreadsheets and simple accounting software to manage its orders, but found this inefficient as it expanded.
Through customising its ERP system, Koshi Sushi was able to find innovative ways to make the business more efficient. Before, taking on an extra customer meant spending hours in Excel to make sure the right product got to the right customer at the right time.
“MYOB Exo helps us reduce waste and labour expenses, and so keep our prices competitive. For the future we’re planning to add new product lines, and we’re confident we have a flexible, fully integrated business to handle further growth,” explained Managing Director Terry Riadis.
Of course, innovation looks different for every business. Some organisations will have a myriad of opportunities for change, while others will have one area that needs improvement.
Here are a few examples of innovative change – some simple, some more complex:
Improving customer service
Austral Fisheries uses MYOB’s Greentree ERP mobile platform to give staff instant access to accurate, up-to-date stock levels.
This lets it take customer orders more efficiently, leading to happier customers and repeat orders.
“Greentree4Sales means the sales reps can process orders and provide copies to the customer before leaving their premises. They don’t have that backlog of paperwork and they can even do special deals right there and then” said Greg Johnston, CFO, Austral Fisheries.
Increasing efficiency, reducing costs
Andy’s Earthmovers, which supplies heavy machinery throughout Australia, has used MYOB’s Greentree ERP system to automate many of its administrative processes around maintaining and repairing their machinery.
This has improved efficiency and helped them keep costs down as the business grows.
Proactive maintenance scheduling avoids costly downtime, and reporting time has halved.
CFO Lisa Mills estimated that the new ERP platform has saved AEM hundreds of thousands of dollars in administration costs, including staffing.
“Despite the fivefold increase in business, our administration staff numbers have not grown to the same degree” she said.
At Kosmea Skincare, moving to a cloud-based system with MYOB Advanced ERP means sales staff now have access to the business’ data from anywhere, which cuts down double handling and improves productivity as staff can work wherever they are.
“From every perspective we are more streamlined and more productive and that gives us more confidence to move forward” said Marie Kapetanakis, President of Kosmea.
Ongoing innovation, ongoing improvement
It’s relatively simple to make a single innovative change – but it’s harder to make innovation an integral part of your business model.
To set yourself apart from the competition, you need to actively look for ways to innovate in your business every day.
Be open to ideas from your staff – often they’re the ones in the best position to recommend changes, because they’re working with your business processes at the coalface.