The Path to Success webinar, Digitalization: Managing Time, Cost & People to Embrace Technology in Your Business was successfully completed on Thursday, 28 October 2021. The webinar was organised and hosted by Woomentum in partnership with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Japan, and supported by Innolab Asia. During the webinar, moderator Mr. Cong-Thang Huynh of Innolab Asia and panelists Ms. Hue La of Van Dat Co. Ltd, Ms. Nguyen Dieu Hang of BSSC, and Mr. Duke Lee of Fin2B shared their personal experience with digitalization and offered logistical advice on digital tools and systems to business owners.
Panelists agreed that digitalization not only brings multiple benefits by smoothing out internal processes, but also improves your relationship with customers by saving them time and cost.There is also the added potential of gaining more customers. Key insights shared under the three pillars (time, cost and people) include:
Persistence and clear long term objectives are a requirement in order to have better time management. It is also important to recognize that digitalization is a tiring and strenuous but necessary process for the long term. A systematic approach by creating timelines and organizing tasks better will improve the entrepreneur’s management abilities.
Upfront cost is still a huge barrier to digitalization for SMEs and once implemented, it becomes necessary to keep spending. To face this challenge, panelists recommend identifying goals clearly and early in order to precisely map out needs. After this, they can do a more accurate cost-benefit analysis.
Ms. Hue La of Van Dat Co. Ltd shared her recent experience with choosing the right Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for her company, “We evaluated based on factors such as pricing. And that was the most important factor. To see whether the pricing stayed within our budget… the suitability and customization. Whether it offers the needed solution to overcome a lot of our inefficiencies. How easy it is to use… the consultation, customer support, security and privacy as well as the reputation of the supplier; such as, who have been their customers? What are the success rates of their implemented projects? Etc.”
Hue La considered both international and domestic suppliers for ERP systems and found that international suppliers were significantly more expensive. For Van Dat, she ended up choosing a local supplier due to its flexibility and convenience regarding domestic regulations. This choice was made based on an evaluation of the aforementioned factors.
The panelists emphasized that change has to start with the leaders. Upper management’s persistence and commitment throughout the whole process by being supportive of their staff and encouraging communication is key to come out on the winning side. As for employees, their common concerns with going digital include having their salaries reduced, or at worst, losing their jobs as a consequence of not being able to adapt to the new technologies.
Teamwork and collaboration were mentioned as one of the most important, if not the most important factor in managing employee resistance. A good first step would be to find a small team of early digital adopters and leverage it. Incentives such as verbal praises and bonuses were also suggested.
Mr. Duke Lee shared an insightful tip on how business owners can help their team feel more involved, “I think it depends on who brings up the suggestion first.. Some of the things are naturally brought up by the employee… So it’s important to share the goal and try to have an open discussion. And not to be so directive about your suggestions. Maybe the best way for you is to set up a goal and naturally make the team suggest the solution. So when they have ownership over the idea, it makes everything so much easier.
“Persistence is very important for management… if you’re not going to be persistent and committed, then it’s better not to do it at all.” Time, transparency, clear communication and a common vision of their company are all necessary in order to build trust. Mr. Duke Lee and other panelists stressed how much patience and effort it requires to find and build a common ground. “I guess what we are trying to do is that everyone is involved; not only the management. We try to have this as a constant topic of discussion.”
The webinar closed with a question that summed up all the points addressed above: Out of the three (time, cost and people) which one is the hardest to manage?
The answer was unanimously set on: people. The panelists all agreed that there are ways to go about solving issues relating to time and cost. The digital tools are created by us for us. However, influencing people was a complex process that required time and cost.
Watch the webinar recording for more details and anything you might’ve missed the first time!