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Articles
APR 12

Closing the Gap: How to Optimize the Use of ERP and CRM solutions among Quebec SMBs

Businesses across Canada are trying to keep up with new technologies as they become available, but unfortunately this trend isn’t equal across all the provinces. Although Canadian businesses as a whole may be viewed as laggards in terms of IT adoption compared to their counterparts in the U.S. and other first-world economies, Quebec businesses in particular invest substantially less in IT compared to the rest of the country.

That’s not all: only 25% of online purchases made by Quebec consumers are made on Quebec websites. According to the Quebec Ministère de l’économie, de l’innovation et de la science (MESI), only 12% of manufacturing, retail and service businesses sell their products online, and the CEFRIO notes that only 15.6% of manufacturing businesses that have a website use it to sell their products. And even though a business management solution can drive profit as well as improve productivity and performance by supporting operations, centralizing data and automating processes, only about a third of manufacturing SMBs use an ERP or CRM solution, and only 16.2% use a supply chain management solution (SCM). Lack of control over projects, invoicing and resource utilization, poor collaboration between teams as well as time wasted on manual entries and searching for data—all of this can lead to losses in terms of sales and profits, not to mention lower productivity rates.

As such, organizations that adopt and make the most of available technologies can achieve great increases in productivity and profitability. For instance, SMBs that leverage Internet and Web technologies enjoy substantial increases in productivity, exportations and growth—but while Internet contributed to 21% of growth between 2004 and 2009 for G8 countries, it accounted for only 10% of the growth in Canada over the same years. Furthermore, most Quebec SMBs are not even present on social media, even though these are now widely recognized as an essential marketing tool.

Why are Quebec firms lagging in regards to IT?

In the 2016 iteration of the yearly Association des économistes québécois (ASDEQ – Quebec Economists Association) symposium, Jacqueline Dubé, President General Manager of the CEFRIO, warned that too few SMBs in the province have a digital action plan in place. Several factors explain this disparity between Quebec and other industrialized countries. A high level of risk aversion, the language barrier and a lack of specialized or knowledgeable personnel have been identified as some of the reasons why Quebec firms tend to take more time to adopt new technologies and practices after they first become available.

Lack of information is also to blame, as manufacturing SMBs surveyed agree that access to a guide or start-up kit of some sort would help them incorporate IT in their organizations. However, firms should not hesitate to contact consulting firms or potential providers: partners can address questions and concerns as well as share tools regarding the purchase of a new system and its implementation process. Various resources are also available online, such as our eBook listing the various factors to be considered prior to the implementation of a new management system.

But the main reason for this technological lag is that SMBs in Quebec lack the necessary capital to invest in IT. The implementation of a new business management system, for instance, can represent a substantial investment, and without adequate funding, most firms are unable to even start the process. While investments made into IT could be recouped within 3 to 5 years, the capital is needed upfront for SMBs to be able to take the leap in the first place—which is now vital for Quebec firms to remain competitive and survive in a global, digitalized economy.

How to close the gap?

With the right policies and investments in place, though, the transformation can finally take place. In the last few years, the Quebec government has taken steps to ensure that organizations across the province can make the most of available technologies, with major investments meant to promote the growth and the digital transformation of Quebec SMBs in various sectors. These efforts will be culminating with the official launch of the government’s Stratégie numérique (Digital Strategy) for the province in the fall.

In the meantime, some programs are already available. SMBs that operate in Quebec in the primary and tertiary sectors, among others, can now benefit from funding and tax credits to take advantage of existing technologies and systems currently at their disposal. For more information, read our article regarding available financial aid and tax credits for Quebec SMBs looking to implement business management solutions.

JOVACO is ready to accompany firms in Quebec looking to harness the technologies at their disposal by helping them shape their vision and realize it. Take advantage of 2 free consultation hours with JOVACO’s trained specialists or stay tuned for more information about our upcoming seminar on May 12, 2017 on how a management solution adapted to your specific needs can optimize your processes.