In an effort to boost technology adoption amongst Worcestershire businesses, the Council commissioned two programmes of support: Elevate Technology and Digital Technology & Advanced Manufacturing (DTAM) to provide guidance, advice and support to businesses who wanted to grow through technology. While the two programmes were somewhat similar, DTAM focused on helping businesses in the manufacturing sector adopt advanced manufacturing solutions.
Each programme offered one-to-one digital consulting support. In addition, grant funding of up to 40% was available to those who completed the consultancy support to help cover the cost of implementing identified digital solution, as well as its technical and practical implementation.
Initially, the Council commissioned Winning Moves to recruit 25 participants to the Elevate programme and 10 to the DTAM programme and to provide one-to-one counselling to help each business to:
- Determine their digital maturity level
- Decide on which digital tool would have the greatest return on investment
- Create a road map for their digital adoption plans
- Implement the digital solution.
The programme was delivered between 2021 -2022, when SMEs were rebounding from pandemic restrictions and heading into very difficult economic headwinds, including Brexit implementation, the rising cost of energy and record inflation.
This economic climate provided both challenges and advantages to recruiting participants into the programmes. The primary challenge was that finance for investment was tight and because of the rise in inflation and higher interest rates, more expensive – even when taking into account a 40% grant. The main advantage was that businesses were open to finding solutions that could make their businesses more productive and competitive.
We used several marketing channels as well as our adviser network to reach potential participants and spoke to each company that expressed interest individually to truly understand their needs and opportunities.
From our large network of highly experienced and vetted digital advisors across the UK, Winning Moves tapped local advisers to provide the one-to-one consultancy for the Worcester businesses.
Each business was assigned a consultant for up to 15 hours to create a bespoke digital road map. The first step was to conduct an assessment using our Benchmark Index platform to determine the company’s digital maturity and their goals. Together, the business and adviser created the business’s road map, a simple but powerful four stage process which pinpoints how technology can improve performance and accelerate the achievement of its vision and keeps the focus on the business’s goals.
Digital Road Map
As each intervention was bespoke to participant businesses, there was a wide range of solutions adopted by the cohort– from CRM/ERP systems, to pick-and-pack software, and developing a fully integrated system that could bridge existing software that had previously been operating in isolation. In addition to the 121 sessions, the group of 25 business leaders met regularly online to share experiences and best practices. Winning Moves also created a tech showcase that brought together regional businesses with tech experts who presented the latest in technology advances and techniques, to stimulate the sharing of ideas.
Winning Moves delivered extensive, high quality consultancy to an initial 25 businesses in the Elevate programme and 10 in DTAM over the course of 12 months. All of the companies were provided a minimum of 12 hours support, with a vast majority receiving 15 hours of specialist consultancy, all at no financial cost to participants.
As the advice was bespoke to each business, a wide range of solutions were adopted that resulted in increased sales, efficiencies and productivity. For example, some chose a CRM/ERP system, while another integrated a stock management system, and another adopted a fully integrated system that bridged existing software applications that had previously been operating in isolation.
Because of the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the businesses that participated, Worcestershire Country Council decided to extend the Elevate programme to another 25 companies in a Phase II, which was also delivered by Winning Moves.
In addition, Winning Moves hosted the Worcester Tech Showcase which brought Elevate participants together with industry experts to share knowledge and best practices.
In a satisfaction survey completed at the end of the Elevate programme, the programme was rated very highly by participants across a variety of measures, including the quality of support provided, the knowledge of the advisers and the overall service. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being ‘excellent’, participants rated each element, on average, between 8 and 9.
Participants’ feedback was similarly positive:
“Great input from our adviser who very quickly helped identify areas that required a more detailed look in terms of using technology to improve processes. I have been really happy with the process and looking forward to addressing the issues identified. Thank you for delivering a great program.”