Step-by-step guide to optimising your finance systems

Running a business is always a full-on experience. Often, business owners find themselves caught in a trap whereby there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day – no matter how late you work – to make large-scale structural changes that will save time. You may well know that automation would be a good thing for your business, but struggle to work out how you can make it happen. The solution is to take it step by step.

Step 1 – Understand how automation can benefit your business

Technology is the main driver of progress in businesses today. Automated technology simplifies many aspects of day-to-day production and financial management, saving time, increasing efficiency and improving security.

Investing in new software means that you can enjoy reduced costs due to increased efficiency, as well as throughput and better margins, while your sales are likely to increase as the customer experience improves. You’ll experience a reduction in waste (e.g. due to stock loss) and reduced equipment downtime. You’ll also find that you have increased flexibility, for example, because a web-based timesheet function allows all staff to enter their time quickly, easily and remotely.

The switch to automation can give you a system that is completely configurable and customisable. Driven by the customer’s needs, it is flexible enough to be developed in line with consumer preferences. You’ll have increased control, including an approval system based on multilevel routing that streamlines your control processes. You’ll have increased access to key data, allowing quick and easy distribution of reports and information to workers at all levels, and increased scalability, removing barriers to growth.

With improved organisation, including predefined workflows that manage the exchange of information and automatically managed expenses that are easy to submit, approve or reject, you’ll save a lot of time and trouble. You will meet regulatory requirements with a much reduced risk of error, and you’ll also experience increased employee satisfaction due to a reduction in mundane tasks, no more duplication of data entry and faster access to expense payments.

Step 2 – Understanding automation and its importance

Over time and as your business expands, you’ll notice your accounts package struggling to cope with the volume of activity that you undertake day to day. This issue is magnified if data is held in spreadsheets and separate systems. Cloud-based software enables the integration of all sectors and departments into one efficient system, with benefits including:

  • Improved cash flow
  • Reduced waste of time and resources
  • Better coordination between staff members
  • Improved margins
  • Reduced risk of error
  • Improved customer retention

Step 3 – Understanding how to integrate different systems and departments

The integration of software allows businesses to create a more connected and effective network. In this network, managers, employees and other organisations can easily interact. Successful integration means getting all systems and departments to communicate and work together in a harmonious way, simplifying administration and facilitating more effective collaboration.

If you are using software that is not integrated, employees may be forced to use several applications to complete one task and view the data they need. A few risks you will avoid by integrating software are:

  • Undercharging clients or missing payments
  • Struggling to navigate your own data
  • Wasting time or making errors due to poor coordination
  • Frequently needing to take risks or go over your budget
  • Losing loyal customers

Step 4 – Arranging a demo

  1. Create a shortlist of software solutions that might be a good fit for your business.
  2. Contact the vendors and request product demonstrations to establish how well the solutions rate against your requirements. A list of questions to ask during your meeting might include:
    • What database platform is the software built on?
    • How easy is it to access information held in the system?
    • Can the user change reports without any specialist technical ability?
    • Will the software grow with my business, and what is the upgrade path?
    • How can a BI (business interface) be used to integrate information from different systems and between departments?
  3. After participating in several demonstrations, you should be able to determine which software options best meet your needs. It is safe to make your final decision based on affordability, features and compatibility.

See the bigger picture with Access Financials

Bring your people, data and software together with a single solution that grows with you, giving you one true view of your business.