Build your own Digital Office

Free up time and resources to focus on growing your business

+ Digital Transformation: Helping boost technological uptake and productivity
+ Outsourcing: Use external providers to focus your resources more productively
+ Digital Office marketplace: Find a wide range of apps and tools to help you boost digitalisation
Graphic of business team using digital technology

A Digital Office...

...uses technology to digitalise your core, and outsource your non-core, administrative functions, allowing you to save time and money and be more efficient and productive.

Outsourcing your digital office is a clever strategic move

One of the keys to unlocking productivity in the UK is helping small businesses adopt new technologies

"There is appetite amongst the small business community to actively incorporate digital tools and technology skills into their businesses"

The adoption of digital technologies has been shown to have a positive impact on productivity, with research indicating that the use of digital technologies is strongly linked to sales per employee. For instance, the use of a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) added 18.4% to productivity, ecommerce added 7.5%, and accounting software led to an 11.8% increase in firm-level productivity over three years.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has also assessed that the use of two or more business management technologies is associated with productivity gains of up to 25%.

Search through the BizEquals Digital Office marketplace to find a fantastic range of apps, services and products, all dedicated to helping you save time and money.


SMEs contribution to the UK economy

through the use of technology


SMEs contribution to the UK economy

through GREATER use of technology

Digital Britain: How small businesses are turning the tide on tech

Sage, June 2022

Two people discussing core inhouse functions around laptop

Core in-house functions

In building a digital office, certain key functions may need to be carried out in-house. These are functions that you could classify as of strategic importance and operational or governance importance.

In a small engineering design company, the design of the product would be strategically important and if it requires specialist manufacturing skill, it may be better to keep that in-house. However, if the manufacture is more straightforward, it may well make sense to outsource it.

If a function is strategically and operationally important keep it in-house otherwise it can potentially be outsourced. For those functions kept in-house, there is a huge range of digital technologies that can help you carry out the function more efficiently and cost effectively. These include CRM, accounting software,  HR software, and employee workflow and communication.
People talking around an ipad about outsourcing

Outsourced functions

Outsourcing functions is a well-established business process. In the past, business owners may have struggled with the multitude of tasks that running a business requires. At some point it becomes obvious that a strategic decision needs to be made about how best to run the business efficiently and remove blockages that are inhibiting growth.

Not all functions need to be conducted in-house and they can be outsourced to external companies, contractors, or freelancers.  Some of the most common functions to outsource include IT, Finance and Payroll.
44.5% of small businesses agreed that they want to use more digital tools but didn't know which ones would be best for their business.

The top six reasons why small businesses should digitalise and outsource

1. Cost Savings

Outsourcing allows you to hire outside experts at a fraction of the cost of hiring that expertise in-house. The costs saved include salary, benefits, training, office space and IT.

2. Quality of Information

Outsourcing means you use specialists to carry out specific tasks. They can provide expert feedback and advice to help improve your decision-making.

3. Continuity

Outsourcing means you and your staff no longer have to juggle holiday cover, or cope with the loss of expertise when an employee leaves.

4. Compliance

Outsourcing allows you to stay on top of the changes to laws and taxes that affect your business. Never find yourself in breach of a law again and be able to demonstrate you have taken steps to ensure your compliance.

4. Flexibility

Outsourcing means that when the business cycle changes, you can respond quickly and efficiently to either scale-back your commitments or, if you have a short-term need or a longer-term opportunity, you can scale-up your outsourced resources quickly.

6. Competitiveness

Outsourcing gives smaller businesses the opportunity to compete with larger companies. Many tasks act as a drain on a small businesses resources - hiring outside expertise allows them to focus on the meaningful, and profitable, parts of the business.

Some of the most commonly cited benefits of digitalisation


Digitalisation helps business run more smoothly


Digital tools improved the customer experience


Digitalisation led to improved efficiency and lower costs


New digital technology leads to higher productivity


Digitalising internal processes saved employee's time


Digitalisation helped their business survive


Technology enabled companies to get paid quicker


Digital tools allowed better control of finances

Benchmarking the digital capability of small businesses

The Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index 2021 (latest Report) uses survey data to identify and measure how small businesses in the UK think about, and are putting in to practice, the adoption of tech within their business.

The index focuses on businesses with an annual turnover up to £25 million and fewer than 250 employees.

The Index Score range is between 1-100 and is used to benchmark small businesses into one of five digital capability segments (Passive, Getting Started, Established, High and Advanced). Underpinning this score are eight key indicators including infrastructure, mobile and security. For a complete overview of the index and it's methodology, please refer to the report.

However, it highlights some interesting data about the digital profile of small businesses, what they're doing well, and focuses on areas that can be improved. The report concludes that if businesses with low digital capability (segements 1-3) moved to high levels of digitisation (segments 4-5), it is estimated the UK economy could benefit by around £75 billion.


Advanced segment:
Since 2014, the number of businesses in this segement has increased from 25% to 69%


Wider geographic coverage:
Covid helped many businesses to seek wider markets and 23% said this was the main benefit to being online.


Prioritising digital development:
56% of businesses with low digital development said further development was NOT a priority.

Overall Index

2021 *69%
* N.B. No index was published in 2020

1. Passive

Index Score range: 0-18

• Own website: <5%
• Email customers and suppliers: 25%
• Social media to communicate with customers & suppliers: <10%
• Use online government services: c.10%
• Internet Banking: c. 20%
• Online accounting software: 0%
• Essential Digital Skills: <5%

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5. Advanced

Index Score range: 62-100

• Own website: 90%
• Email customers and suppliers: Nearly all
• Social media to communicate with customers & suppliers: c. 80%
• Use online government services: >90%
• Internet Banking: Nearly all
• Online accounting software: 70%
• Essential Digital Skills: 67%
Digital transformation has the power to transform the processes and culture of an organisation, while accelerating growth and creating competitive advantage

Five Barriers to successful technology adoption by SMEs

Illustration of digital product for enterprise

Products built for enterprise not SME customers:

Not simple enough
Don’t address needs
No clarity re benefits
Illustration of two employees discussing new technology

Lack of expertise and execution support

Adoption is daunting
Lack of inhouse expertise
Crowdsource knowledge from own networks
Illustration of digital product for enterprise

Adoption looks too hard and too costly

Struggle to justify cost
Failure to deliver expected results
Require solution not re-engineering large part of business
Illustration of woman struggling with new technology

End-user adoption problems

Employee resistance doubles failure rate
Need understanding of pain points
Ongoing support and upskilling maximises value
Illustration of man with 404 error on new technology

Switching feels too high risk

Switching could disrupt business
Locked in with large, complex systems
Switching could cause damaging loss of data
Preference for simple off-the-shelf products

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70% (of SMEs) cited the cost of software licences as the main reason why they hadn't yet adopted technology

According to a new report by Enterprise Nation: Powering digital adoption among UK SMEs (December, 2023) of hundreds of small UK businesses, adopting technology tools like CRMs, cloud storage, and AI can provide major benefits for SMEs including time savings of up to 3.5 weeks per year for senior leaders.

However, the survey found worryingly low adoption of many basic tech tools, with only 14% using cloud backups and 29% using CRM systems. The main barriers cited were cost of software licenses, as well as skills gaps and lack of confidence.

The report recommends collaborative efforts by government, the tech industry, and business support groups to address these barriers through affordable licensing, training, and other support so that small businesses can fully harness technology to enhance productivity, decision-making, sales, and overall success and resilience.

Size Matters for SMEs

Size plays a crucial role in how these businesses adopt technology. Larger SMEs, those with 10-249 employees, are significantly ahead in embracing digital tools compared to their smaller counterparts. Statistics reveal that only 30% of small businesses (0-9 employees) have increased their digital technology use since 2019, in contrast to 69% of larger SMEs.

This trend is also apparent in the adoption of innovative technologies like AI, with 41% usage among small businesses compared to 77% in larger SMEs. Larger SMEs not only use more types of digital tools – averaging 8 compared to 4.7 in smaller businesses – but also have a higher intent to expand their digital toolkit in the coming years. This data underscores the need for a nuanced approach from tech providers and policymakers, recognising the diverse challenges and needs within the SME category, especially for smaller enterprises.

Xero: Beating the 'digital drag': Unleashing the potential of the UK’s smallest businesses

Some Key Services Your Business Can Outsource

Accounting and Finance

Accounting and Finance

Accounting is commonly done by small businesses in-house, initially, but the time and skills required to deal with the complexity and compliance often encourages outsourcing. Around 40% of businesses outsource these functions, including payroll and pensions.

Information Technology Services

Information Technology Services

IT management is a very popular service to outsource, as many small businesses simply don't have the resources or skills to maintain their IT requirements in-house. Services may include an IT helpdesk, cyber security, hosting, disaster recovery, and network management.



Whether it is online digital marketing or more traditional print marketing, the skills and time required to undertake this vital task are many and varied. Outsourcing to a professional firm ensures you get the benefit of their creativity and experience without the drag on your time.

Customer Service

Customer Service

Keeping customers happy is vital for any business. However, it can be a time-intensive process, diverting your staff away from other important functions. Cloud-based or shared-agent services may be a better solution, as long as you are able to provide a clear and comprehensive outline of your customer profile and requirements.

Human Resources

Human Resources

Finding staff with the right skills and experience can be a time-consuming, difficult task for smaller businesses. Dealing with the ongoing training, health and safety, pension and benefits administration can add further layers of administration. Outsourcing can ensure your business efficiently and cost-effectively looks after its staff, helping reduce turnover and disruption.

Logistics and Shipping

Logistics and Shipping

Depending on what products and services your business sells, outsourcing your logistics can be a siginificant time-saver. An outsourced provider of warehousing and delivery can not only ensure you meet all legal and customs procedures, vital if you export, it can also help your customer service as the outside expertise can ensure a smoother route to market.

Digital Tools are key to growth

Digital tools are key to the growth and efficiency of small businesses. Businesses that embraced digitalisation the most between 2019 and 2022 saw an 8.1% increase in revenue, while those lagging behind experienced a 4.7% decline.

Popular technologies driving this digital adoption include cloud computing, communication tools, and digital assistants. These tools not only enhance operational efficiency and reduce costs but also assist in expanding customer bases.

Operational technologies like cloud computing (48%), accounting software (35%), and graphic design applications (29%) are used by 80% of small businesses. Furthermore, 79% utilise communication technologies, with online media (58%) and video conferencing (46%) being the most common. Emerging technologies are also gaining traction, with 41% of businesses using digital assistants (24%) and artificial intelligence (22%).

Overall, digitalisation is proving to be a catalyst for small business growth across various industries.

Deciding what you need for your digital office

Set your objectives

Set your objectives

When you set out to invest your hard-earned money in new software, do you know what do you want the software to do? Are looking to boost your productivity, or reduce fixed overheads?

Do you have a specific bottleneck or staffing issue which needs addressing? Do you understand what problem(s) your software will solve and what benefits your business will gain from it (and how will you measure any such gain?).


Write down a list of your objectives and discuss them with members of your team so that they can share their ideas and make suggestions.
Define your requirements

Define your requirements

Sometimes, the business functions of a company can be implemented in a slightly chaotic manner. Processes evolve organically and, with staff turnover, it can sometimes be opaque as to how a particular process or function has evolved.

Understanding each function that you want replaced, and planning for future development and growth will allow for the most effective and efficient replacement of your current processes.


Give a 'critical' score to your business processes and functions to better understand what you do and don't need.
Keep an eye on the costs

Keep an eye on the costs

How Much?
Budgeting for new software can be a little tricky. Sometimes attributing costs to a particular process or function can be hard. Once you understand your current cost of undertaking a function, it will be easier to assess the cost/benefit of buying in new software.

Working out the Return on Investment (ROI) will be made easier, especially in conjunction with the reasons to outsource, in the section above.


Create a calculator that will set all the current costs (and savings) against the cost of the new software. Be sure that the benefits outweigh the costs (and risks).
Making the purchase

Making the purchase

When you have made the business case for new software, you will need to implement a process to search for, narrow down to, and purchase your chosen software. Ask colleagues, friends, read review sites, try a free trial if you have the time and resources.

Make sure you give sufficient time for your in-house team to get comfortable with the new software. Change can be good long-term but it will undoubtedly cause disruption in the processes as well as the team.


Make sure that all parties in your company have buy-in to the purchase process. If they feel engaged and with buy-in to the new software, it will ease the implementation process.

Get FREE help going digital

Be the Business

Be the Business is a not-for-profit organisation set up by the government to support SMEs. Their site is designed to provide FREE support and advice to help SMEs solve the 'productivity puzzle' through technology implementation.

With a series of guides and interactive action plans, the path to the successful adoption of technology that can really help your business has never been easier.

Find Out More
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