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MSMEs play a very vital role in the Indian Economy, and they are the major contributors to the GDP. The role of MSMEs cannot be ignored, and hand-holding is the need of the hour as they are MSME entrepreneurs are not experts in all the areas, but they have started the enterprise based on their passion and expertise in a particular area. To assist them, the MSME ministry has initiated the Enterprise Development Programs, where the aspiring or the existing entrepreneurs are trained on various aspects of the business and operations. Technology is another area where MSMEs can take advantage of the same and streamline their processes and have information on the move. The information availability on the move helps them to make business decisions more effectively and efficiently. Technology has become a necessity as part of the New Normal. Cloud-based solutions help the MSMEs to have access to the latest software with up to date features and not to owe any of the infrastructure costs at frugal pricing.


 


Customer Management is very key to the success of any organization. When we say customer management, it starts from the inquiry stage, follow up, invoicing, post-delivery collection, and post-sale service. For tracking the above activities, the organization needs Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRMs are of various types; one is they can be installed on their premises and accessed by the employees of the organization. The second important software which the MSMEs should look beyond CRM is billing/accounting software. In the first section, we will discuss the important elements of CRM and how it can be used. In the second section, we will discuss the billing/accounting software. In the third section, we will discuss about the various schemes and software offered to MSMEs by the Government/departments.

Survival of MSMEs is always a challenge, and especially in a pandemic, like a situation where they are facing a lot of uncertainties. There is low demand and uncertainty in the availability of raw materials and labor due to reverse migration and shortage of working capital. To tide over these crises, it is recommended for the MSMEs to adopt SMART Methodology.




The adoption of technology is the key to the survival of MSMEs, and technology can be adopted in multiple areas. Still, the organization has to take a judicial decision and, based on the necessity and need of the hour, adopt technology in the areas of customer relationship management, accounting/billing, and then if budget permits they should adopt to migration to a proper ERP and production planning.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Software

Managing customers is one of the herculean tasks which the organization faces. Right from the customer contact details and follow up for the order and post-sale service. Imagine if the customer contact details are not tracked and captured centrally, meaning an individual salesperson handles it, and once he leaves the organization or on leave for some reason or the other, the communication with the customer is lost.

The other challenge is lead capturing; every lead till converted into an order; it cannot be lost or wasted. If a lead is lost, it means the revenue is impacted. Lead management is also key as it will help in determining the sales forecast and also planning production accordingly.

Structured data helps the organization to monitor the sales team performance and track its targets? The only solution is the adoption of a CRM that can handle all these challenges being faced by the entrepreneurs.

The following are the features listicle which an entrepreneur should look while selecting a CRM

  • Contact Management
  • Lead Management
  • E-mail integration
  • Workflows and Approvals
  • Reports & Dashboards
  • Sales Analytics
  • Sales Teams Performance Management
  • Call Centre integration
  • Support Automation
  • Few Custom Fields 
  • Mobile CRM
  • Cloud-Based




The above are some of the bare minimal features which the application should have, and based on the need of the organization, the priority can be determined, and proper application can be purchased.

Billing/Accounting Software

The second challenge which every entrepreneur face is billing/accounting issues. An accountant on a desktop-based application does the billing /invoicing. If the entrepreneur wants any information, he has to call the accountant and take the updates. Another challenge is it is person dependent, and if the accountant is absent for a day or two, then there is a shortage of updated information, and payments are impacted badly.

In the current period, it is a challenge as there is a shortage of staff or employees who prefer to work from home, or due to the restrictions, the accountant may not come to the office daily. This can also lead to delayed sharing of information with the CMA/CA/Tax practitioner for filing of the returns and resulting in additional costs.

Decision making is also delayed due to a lack of availability of real-time information. This can sometimes hamper bargaining power with the vendors or collection follow up with the customers. In either case, it impacts the cost and cash flows.

To address this, business accounting and core accounting should be separated, and this will ensure that the information relating to purchases, sales, inventory, outstanding is available in real-time and can be accessed from anywhere. This will make it process dependent rather than person driven. For this, the organization has to embrace the cloud-based business accounting software. One point which should be considered before going for business accounting software is it should be easily integrated with Tally as many of the CMAs/CAs or accounting professionals use it. Integrating the business accounting with the core accounting helps in avoiding duplication of data entry and also reconciliation challenges.

What MSMES should do to address the above challenges?

A true entrepreneur converts challenges or crisis into an opportunity, and reaps benefit from them. Similarly, the MSMEs can address the challenges by adopting the Digital MSME scheme, or GSTN provides free accounting software.

Digital MSME Scheme

There are multiple schemes for the MSMEs, and one such scheme is Digital MSME" Scheme for Promotion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The main objective of this scheme is the adoption of technology by the MSMEs to run their business operations smoothly and take the benefits of cloud-based technologies and applications.

Objectvies of Digital MSME

  • To encourage the MSMEs adoption of Cloud computing in their business process and production
  • To increase the top line and bottom line of the MSMEs by the adoption of the cost-effective cloud platform.
  • To minimize the spending on hardware and rapid implementation, thereby saving cost and time.
  • To help the MSME sector connect with Technology centers for better support and updates from the Government.
  • To encourage MSMEs to adopt software related to ERP, Compliances, e-marketing, procurement, etc.,

Funding

This activity will be funded by the Government of India, which will be up to Rs.1.0 lakh per cluster. The total budget provision for this activity is Rs.100 lakh for 100 clusters.

This activity will be supported by GoI subsidy up to 25% of the total expenditure claimed (subject to a maximum subsidy of Rs. 0.75 lakh per unit) by the MSME for the procurement of Hardware/software from any recognized vendor.

Whom to Contact?

To avail the above benefits, the MSMEs can contact the Nodal Agency.

PPDC, Agra, nominated as Implementing Agency (IA), or MSME-DIs, MSME Tool Room. http://dcmsme.gov.in/Contacts.htm at http://wwww dcmsme.gov.in/schemes/Guideline DigitalMSME.pdf

Accounting Software by GSTN

Reg tech is picking up in India, and now all the taxpayers registered under GST and Income tax have to file their returns online mandatorily. At the initial days of the rollout of GST, many traders and MSMEs have raised a concern that as the return filing is at the transaction level and online, they do not have sufficient funds for the purchase of relevant software.

The Government has taken a view on this and decided to assist the taxpayers who are having the turnover less than Rs 150 lacs to provide free accounting and GST Compliant software so that the small taxpayer's financial burden is addressed and they will be GST compliant.

The provision of free accounting software is assigned to the Goods and Service Tax Network, and they have shortlisted eight software vendors after a rigorous round of validation by GSTN and representatives from the Institute of Charted Accountants of India. 




In the new normal during COVID and post-COVID, customers look out for value addition, and CMAs can suggest any of the above accounting packages to the client as it will help them to access the data online and at the same time reduce the last-minute rush and data entry errors by the team members.

These accounting and billing software are given free to the taxpayers who are having the turnover less than Rs 150 lacs till 31st March 2021.

Marketing Support/Assistance to MSMEs (Barcode)

Barcoding has a very significant impact on the success of an MSME, where they are dealing with goods. It helps in capturing the product information and communicate electronically at every stage of the Supply Chain and report the same correctly.

Bar Coding can have a significant impact on the success of any enterprise/company and organization. Timely and accurate capture of product information and its communication electronically across the Supply Chain ahead of physical product flow is critical to lowering inventory costs, accurate sales forecasting & dynamic production scheduling and in product track and trace. Bar Coding not only facilitates the exchange of information between buyers and sellers but also provides the potential for better visibility and sharing of information across an entire Supply Chain.

Bar codes are the series of black lines and white spaces printed on product packages or attached as tags, which you would have noticed on consumer products. Information on a product or a consignment like its item code or serial number, expiry date, consignor/consignee, etc., can be represented through such bar codes. When these bar codes are scanned using a scanner, it enables instantaneous data capture with 100?curacy and at great speeds.

Funding

Under the SSI-MDA scheme, financial assistance is provided towards 75% reimbursement of a one-time registration fee paid by MSEs, w.e.f. 1st January 2002. Considering the difficulty of MSEs to meet the liability of the payment of annual recurring fees, a 75% recurring yearly fee (for the first three years) is also reimbursed to MSEs under NMCP scheme-Marketing Assistance/Support to MSMEs (Bar Code).

 

The Government is assisting the MSMEs to adopt technology and streamline their business operations and has more productivity. In the hour of uncertainty and in general, it is recommended to go for cloud-based applications as they will reduce the hardware cost and also the maintenance cost. Another advantage of a cloud-based solution is it is easy to implement, and customization is not possible, this will ensure that the organizations adapt to the standard business process and ensure to have better internal controls.


 

The above are the points to be considered by the organization before signing up for a cloud-based solution under the SAAS model (Software as a Service, and charges are based on the number of users using the software). Another point to consider is data retrieved at the end of the tenure of the contract.

In today's world, especially with the new normal technology is playing a key role as it is reducing the time for decision making and enabling the organization to make decisions swiftly. Right from marketing to delivery of the goods, everything has to be tracked and monitored, especially with local lockdowns.

 

Disclaimer

 Any views or opinions represented above are personal and belong solely to the author and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the author may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.


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