October 22, 2021

Everyone’s Digitalising, But Are You Sure You’re Doing It Right?

Sam Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Paloe, explains how business owners can tell if they are relying on the right digital tools.

Qinthara Fasya | 5 July 2021

Image provided by Paloe

As the globe grapples with the continuing pandemic, digitalization has become the standard in today’s corporate environment. In fact, three out of every four Singapore SMEs have implemented at least one digital solution in the previous year. While it is encouraging that SMEs are adapting, are they taking the appropriate steps? Assume you’re a frozen food store; do you use a food delivery platform or an eCommerce platform? Is merely getting your consulting firm online sufficient?

Sam Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of Paloe, spoke with DigitalCFO Asia on how startup and SME owners would be able to easily move into the post-Covid world from a financial and operational standpoint.


Continuity and Resiliency

Sam leads Paloe’s Start-up Advisory section and works with notable start-ups such as Igloo, PolicyPal, Moovaz, and USEN, among others, to help startups and SME owners make strategic decisions for long-term success. When asked how businesses can ensure continuity and resiliency in these trying times, Sam notes that companies are more ready and in shape as compared to when the pandemic first started. 

He dated back to when the circuit breaker was first implemented back in early 2020, where one of Paloe’s clients scrambled as they only had one week to turn things around. This was mostly due to the fact that they were primarily working with on-site servers, which were not ready for operation when the circuit breaker was implemented. In order to react to the situation at the moment, they had to swiftly move from desktop computers to laptop computers. This scenario accurately represented the necessity for businesses to swiftly and efficiently transition to digitalization in order to adapt to unpredictable circumstances today and in the future.

At this moment, Paloe is also looking to diversify their off-shore team in order to keep their business operating as usual. To maintain continuity and resiliency in a company during difficult circumstances, Sam believes that organisations must react rapidly to events since everyone will be scrambling and numerous attitude shifts will occur.


Finance and Operations digitisation for SMEs 

Han-Sheng co-founded Paloe with Sam in 2015. Han Sheng, Paloe’s CTO, oversees the product development team, ensuring the success of their clients’ digital transformations by developing Paloe’s portfolio of automation technologies. He shares that the most basic step in digitization is to gather all of your documentation and scan it in, after which digitalization may begin. It digitizes your processes and keeps your workflow the same, but it doesn’t add much value to the whole process.

The real power of digitisation comes in when you can leverage on technologies and platforms out there to take this data that you now have to manipulate it, transform it, store it and to process it. Once we have this data in a digital form, we can do a lot of automation with it, however we want it. Han-Sheng emphasizes that digitisation by itself does not solve anything, but the vision of what you want to achieve with that digitisation will play a significant role in this digital shift. He also notes that it is important to understand your company and its capabilities well in order to get value out of the data. 


Key trends resulting from extensive digitalisation adoption

Firstly, Sam notes that there is a big trend towards figuring out how to make sure things get more efficient, more visible and more transparent. This is because tech start-ups specifically, are moving at an extreme pace on a day-to-day basis and they would have to make key decisions on the run most of the time. In the past, the team could just meet up and decisions would be made there and then. However, with the current situation, despite the availability of virtual platforms, synchronizing time is not the simplest thing, resulting in delayed decisions and discussions. The transparency of data becomes a topmost priority for startups today.

The second trend Sam has noticed is individuals wanting to be able to centralize their operations and bring on additional specialists at a lower cost. This often applies to organizations who hire employees from another country than their own, where work needs to be done virtually. 

People are also concerned about job security, according to the third trend. Sam shares his experience of working with a media company once, where there was a lady whose role is solely to calculate finance functions. Sam believes that that was the greatest time for her to implement some form of optimization – to value add her role in the case her role becomes obsolete in the future. People start to realize that they may not maintain their job for very long at this age, and picking up new skills is the way to remain relevant. 

Another trend is that, in today’s world, everyone needs to understand data since there is so much of it. So, in essence, one of the trends is to become a mini data scientist in some way. If you don’t, you’ll be left behind because the individuals who know how to deal with data will be the ones who can tell the most stories and extract the most information from it.


Virtual CFOs

A full-time CFO with extensive expertise adds significant value to a firm. To guarantee sustainable growth, the CFO draws on years of experience working with many customers as well as their deep financial skills to remain on top of your company’s finance department and guide business strategy. However, not every company is large enough to justify hiring a full-time CFO. Virtual CFO services fill this void by providing part-time, remote CFO services that provide value to your company at a low cost.

They examine your company’s monthly reports and offer recommendations to help you simplify processes and expand your business. Outsourced CFO services include Virtual CFO services. Fractional CFO, Project CFO, and Interim CFO services are some of the other Outsourced CFO services.


In Hindsight

Paloe believes that digital transformation is more than just digitization; it entails imagining your company’s future and building solutions to bring that vision to life. Digital transformation is a continuous process of strategizing, executing, and market testing as you redesign your organization to remain ahead of the competition and improve operational efficiency.

About Paloe

Co-founded in 2015 by Sam Lee, Paloe (formerly known as Excide) has been helping companies to grow through our spectrum of services that include finance function outsourcing, virtual CFO services, raising capital, digital transformation and more. Through these services, Paloe aims to assist companies in achieving growth by leveraging four key pillars: expertise, technology, scalability, and partnership. Paloe’s portfolio include Geniebook, Gobbler Co, PolicyPal, CSM Academy International, Moovaz, SchoolPlus, Noodle Thai Thai Kitchen, and Usen Group. To find out more, please visit https://www.paloe.com.sg/