Can you cut more fat from your business in admin? 7 things to look at.

Today’s office manager need to juggle many tasks at once and perhaps some of the routine repetitive tasks can be delivered more efficiently to save you time. Business automation of some certain tasks needs to be explored to see if there is any fat you can cut.

In association with IDG, Sage recently surveyed executives around the world what manual financial processes they’re looking to automate. All of these tasks can be significant drains on time and labor, and businesses have realized that automation is the way to gain a competitive edge moving forward. Financial reporting topped the list, followed by data entry/administration, and customer service/management. Yet, according to Sage data, almost one quarter of small firms (24%) admit they are not using electronic tools to manage what are largely repetitive, low-value processes within their finance teams.

By automating these processes, it’s possible to be more efficient and productive. Here are 7 tasks you can evaluate and possibly automate and cut back on a lot of paperwork. This exercise will also see where duplication may arise and be eliminated in your company processes.

1. Job Costings

The first stage of selling a product or service is creating a quotation or estimate. This includes accounting for inventory, overheads and labour. It can be a complex process, particularly when there are several teams involved. Before you know it, your people are duplicating effort by manually writing down data and then keying it into a system, and finance teams cannot easily generate useful reports. Within accounting software, quotations can not only be easily created and then sent automatically to clients, but you and others can track those that have been won, lost or expired.

2. Collecting Data

The team providing the goods or service will no doubt create expenses, for which they’ll hand you receipts, and you might find yourself in receipt of paperwork such as a purchase order to authorize the work. Inputting this data can be time consuming, but the use of software such as AutoEntry can help. It lets you scan things like receipts or invoices and then transfer the data automatically into your accounting system. It’s been reported that this is so effective, it can reduce work that formerly took days down to a matter of hours.

Additionally, some accounting software lets your staff who are out and about, perhaps meeting customers and clients, snap a picture of a receipt at the point of purchase using their phone. Once this is done, the data is then transferred automatically into the accounting solution.

3. Invoicing

Once the goods or service are provided, an invoice must be sent. If you’ve created a quote within your accounting software, as mentioned earlier, it can be converted automatically into an invoice, with all the details filled in. And because the correct invoice templates are available the accounting software, sending out a high-quality and complete invoice can be done in seconds – with no need to collect details from anybody concerned. Details such as invoice numbers are automatically generated and tracked within the software.

4. Collecting Payment Digitally 

If your goods or services are delivered onsite then you can integrate a payment solution, such as a card reader, with your accounting software. This means the team that’s out and about can collect payment there and then, removing the need to chase payments – and significantly boosting your company’s cash flow.

Alternatively, accounting software lets you set up alternative payments methods, such as working with providers, that lets you create standing orders or direct debits to make regular payments seamless. This benefits not just the finance team but also the wider business through automation because they don’t have to create and authorize individual payments, or even worry about tracking invoices they receive.

5. Credit Control and Cash Flow

Of course, sometimes there’s no getting away from issuing an invoice and then waiting for payment. But the use of good accounting software can help because it can send automated reminders to clients – both shortly before the invoice is due, and once the terms have expired. This significantly reduces the work of the finance team and the stress of ensuring the cash flow is maintained.

6. Financial Reconciliation

Once you receive the payment, it’s necessary to match the entry in the bank account with the relevant invoice in your system. Reconciliation can be a massive drain of resources for any finance office.

7. Digital Mailroom

You may also want to consider a digital mailroom as incoming mail for your business gets sent directly to the document management company, who open, sort and digitize the documents received on your behalf. Documents are scanned in, then sent directly to the appropriate person in digital form. Invoices, for example, can be sent directly to your company’s accounting system. This saves your staff time, meaning they can get on with their core tasks. It also means documents are easily accessible via any electronic device.

Make sure you spend a little time on building a bank of templates that you can tap into each time you need to contact a customer. These could include your letterheads, your quotes, invoices and receipts. Here is something you can do, for a  whole week measure the time of what you actually did. If you realize you a spending too much time on a certain task have look and see if you can automate it. There is no one all in one solution as you will need a CRM and and accounting software to make it all work