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Boost Business by Advising SMBs on Government Regulations

28 Mar, 2006 By: Laurie Shufeldt imageSource

Boost Business by Advising SMBs on Government Regulations

Many small and medium-sized
businesses (SMBs) view compliance regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act as
an issue strictly for large public companies.

However, as regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley—which was created to protect
investors from accounting scandals like Enron—closely monitor and hold
enterprise-level organizations accountable, the standard set for big companies
is beginning to be applied to smaller businesses.

An objective of a document technology provider should be to partner with SMB
customers and help them comply with various regulations. Providers and resellers
can educate SMBs on what compliance standards they will face in the near future
and how technology can deliver a return-on-investment (ROI) by helping them
remain compliant.

Provide Affordable Solutions

more than ever, SMBs need guidance on affordable compliance solutions. Not only
is compliance expensive, there’s a lack of technology tools and solutions that
are specifically designed and priced for the middle market. Large-scale,
expensive enterprise solutions are simply out of reach for SMBs.

To offset the hefty cost of compliance, SMBs need solutions that solve more than
one business need. An effective solution should concurrently:

● Enhance business procedures

● Increase productivity

● Improve customer service

● Offer protection in the case of sudden data loss or document damage

● Support government and industry regulated mandates

Implementing a dual purpose solution is the only way many mid-market and smaller
organizations can financially justify purchasing a new technology solution.

The best way for SMBs to begin incorporating compliance solutions into their
infrastructure is to tap into a cost-effective technology solution that
regulates the company internally. Failure to comply with regulations has serious
consequences, including fines, loss of customers, or even the possibility of
being put out of business.

Advise your customer that unless a company is entirely family-owned and
self-financed, at some point in the near future it will be impacted by
Sarbanes-Oxley or a regulatory measure from its industry, partnering vendors,
investors, and liability insurance providers—just to name a few.

Research & Real-Time Market Factors

You can help substantiate the compliance recommendations you make to your
customer by referencing industry research and citing factors that influence the
mid-market and small businesses.

According to industry analyst group Gartner, spending on financial compliance
management technology will increase to 10-15 percent of total IT budgets in
2006, up from less than 5 percent in 2004.

Since enterprises are commonly required to be compliant with large-scale federal
compliance standards, many SMBs that are franchisees of restaurants, car
dealerships and retail stores are also closely monitored and are required to
provide financial audits to parent companies.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI Standard) is another
example of an industry standard affecting the mid-market. The PCI Standard is
intended to protect cardholders’ credit card accounts and transaction

As a result, American Express, Diners Club, Discover Card, MasterCard
International, and Visa U.S.A. all issued a requirement for merchants and
service providers to comply with the PCI standard as well as pass quarterly and
annual audits to help ensure compliance. Merchants who do not comply could face
restrictions by the credit card brands.

The best way to be prepared for compliance standards is for a business to
regulate itself. The only way to do that efficiently is with a technology
solution that:

● Manages internal audits

● Monitors employee’s workflow

● Provides security

● Offers immediate access of records to the appropriate members of an

If a company’s exit strategy is to sell the business, non-compliance will be a
liability. Investors are hesitant to touch a company that lacks document
retention, records management systems and audit trail capabilities.

Speak in Terms of ROI

Explaining the ROI to a customer is crucial. To start, solutions for the
mid-market should be affordable and scalable according to the needs of each
organization’s size, industry and individual needs. The real ROI of such a
solution is that it will help SMB customers address key business issues beyond
compliance, as mentioned earlier.

Solutions that effectively deliver that type of ROI typically integrate
components of

document management, information management, document imaging, workflow
management, and relationship management.

These types of components working together should turn data into usable
information. For example, the data and records employees once sought in the
documents filed away in cabinets or images scanned onto a hard drive are now
immediately available, searchable and secure.

An effective system should also manage the relationships within the data—meaning
that a particular record, for example, should correspond with other relevant
pieces of data like a customer’s account, business and purchase history when
users are looking up that piece of information.

Compared to enterprise-level sales, resellers in the SMB space are all too
familiar with the learning curve between the hottest new technology available
and the small business owner using the most affordable, bare bone processes to
get by. Many of these processes, even today, are manual and not driven by

To effectively sell a compliance and productivity hybrid solution to SMBs, the
goals for implementing the solution should seamlessly enhance, not disrupt, an
organization’s established business processes.

ROI is readily proven to SMBs when tasks like the painstaking and costly audits
they once outsourced are now done internally and quickly. The solution should
also automate processes that once required costly employee time and resources.

Additional convincing ROI indicators include solutions that eliminate endless

and expensive offsite storage, reduce administrative costs and inefficient data
storage, and improve workflow.

The Bottom Line

The types of small businesses resellers service vary in more ways than levels of
technology expertise. They also differ in size, needs, industry, and customer

For that reason, many resellers specialize in one vertical such as government,
financial services, or healthcare. And even within each industry, the technology
hardware, software and integrated components differ drastically by organization.

However, whether resellers specialize in a particular industry or a company
size, they are well-positioned to help not only their customers, but also their
own bottom line. A technology solution that addresses both compliance and
productivity makes the sale even easier across all types of industries and
company sizes.

Compliance drives the necessity and productivity justifies the cost, which
affects the customer’s bottom line and equals increased sales and revenue for
resellers who actively take on the role of educator as new regulations affect
the market.

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