Boosting SME efficiency with barcodes

People are at the heart of every organisation, they are what gives each and every company character and individuality. However, due to human nature and our propensity to make the occasional mistake, human error is also a problem that costs SMEs money on a daily basis. In fact, it has been referred to as one of the greatest obstacles to organisational success.

The cost of human error can be seen in the amount of time wasted and money lost. Each year it costs the UK and the USA a combined total of £18.7 billion, and we see regular examples in the news about how it impacts our lives and businesses. SMEs in particular have cause for concern, with human error being the leading cause of data loss according to a study carried out by Databarracks. It was found that human error accounted for 16% of all data loss in small businesses, and 31% in medium-sized companies. Clearly, it is a problem that managers worldwide need to work hard to eliminate.

The Databarracks study found that larger companies have more safeguards in place to protect them from human error, which explains why their data loss is negligible in comparison. However, smaller companies shouldn’t have to compromise when they have much the same access to easy and effective technology as their larger competitors. One of the many secrets to success used by top organisations is that of barcodes.

Barcodes are no longer just in the domain of supermarkets. They are now found in paper-intensive businesses and warehouses around the globe and, to a certain degree, they can eliminate human error altogether. They are one of the most innovative elements of business process automation and can help to streamline business processes, categorise and centralise information, save time and increase efficiency. Below are just a few examples of how SMEs can utilise this technology to their advantage.

Eliminate repetitive tasks

One reason the use of barcodes results in higher efficiency and productivity is the fact that they automate repetitive tasks regularly performed by overworked employees. The likelihood of human error occurring increases with repetitive tasks, especially when employees are compelled to work for long periods without breaks.

Efficient forms processing is facilitated with the use of barcodes. They eliminate the need to manually input important information, as well as providing an easy means of storing and indexing the data for easy retrieval at a later point.

Document management system integration

Barcodes have become increasingly important in terms of information management and data retrieval. Businesses across many industries are now using barcodes and Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) to index important paperwork. This process means that documents can be securely saved to a network, which is open and accessible to any authorised employee. To find relevant data, all that’s required is a simple computer search, which is far simpler than the traditional means of sifting through papers.

An EDMS can also be used to automatically schedule a follow-up task or reminder on certain documents, significantly facilitating workflow. Documents can even be given a specific lifespan, meaning that after a certain time they will be automatically deleted. All of this ultimately results in increased customer service, productivity, and compliance.

Seriously minimise errors

Barcodes are formed with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, consisting of machine-readable information that is utilised to store and index data. A significant reason why barcodes increase efficiency is that this OCR technology essentially negates the chances of erroneous data entering your system, which means that when the data is retrieved, it is entirely accurate and free of error.

Scalable efficiency

One of the most important aspects of barcoding is that the system is scalable, meaning they can grow as your organisation flourishes. The data encoded into the barcode reflects the needs of your company. When the organisation needs to store more information, or more complex data, then the barcodes can simply be adjusted accordingly. You can customise your barcode data to include more or less information, and your company can continue to develop at a healthy pace.

Save processing and training time

Workflow automation exists to streamline processes and save valuable time for organisations; time that could be better spent elsewhere on more complex tasks. Barcoding means that less time is required to train employees about filing and indexing procedures, as training ends with the use of a scanner. Barcoding will also save processing time, given that using barcode labels is infinitely quicker than entering data by hand. Not only is the data error-free, but more documents can be processed in less time.

Costs are reduced

Many SMEs may not be aware that due to rapidly evolving technology, barcoding systems are remarkably affordable. It would be natural for a smaller business to be concerned over the financial implications of implementing advanced software, as they do not always have the resources to accommodate this technology. However SMEs are even creating their own barcodes using Microsoft Word, and in the long run whatever upfront costs exist will be more than offset by the money saved in terms of time and human resources.