With 20 years of experience of working with businesses of various size and industries, one thing has been abundantly clear.

Technology is a catalyst.

Now I don’t want this statement to be misleading, so let me elaborate a bit. By itself, technology is not a catalyst. However, when blended with the right processes and strategic planning, it can be a difference maker. Let me provide an example.

I am currently working with a new client who is looking for ways to make their sales team more effective and efficient in their day to day activities which should provide more time to develop new customer relationships leading to increased revenues. Upon reviewing their current process of tracking sales activities per sales person, we discovered a paper trail as follows:

1. The sales person completed either a handwritten or typed form tracking their daily and weekly sales calls.
2. These completed forms are delivered to an administrative staff member to compile the data and then.
3. A manual report is generated and distributed for review by the sales managers.

As you can imagine, we can easily automate this process using some relatively inexpensive and simple to use workflow solutions. Microsoft’s SharePoint 2010 solutions are an ideal fit to address this basic need. Here are the immediate benefits of implementing such a process.

1. By creating a simple form and allowing the sales team to complete a web based form it standardizes the data entry process thus simplifying the training for new sales representatives.

2. Sales managers have access to real time reporting. Each sales manager now can review up to the minute reports to more effectively manage their sales teams.

3. The administrative staff member’s workload is lightened due to elimination of the step to compile the paper based forms.

While there may be some upfront cost to getting the software installed and running, this is an example of how tying in some strategic planning to increase revenue to a technology solution can produce on ongoing return on investment which impacts the sales team, administrative team and to a lesser degree, the human resources department for training. The intangible benefits are in what comes from the reclaimed time of the employees who are more efficient as result of such a small technology improvement.