"The Apprentice" lied. Business isn't as exciting as on TV. Nobody told you about the boring stuff — the spreadsheets, the software updates. But how much of this stuff do you really need to do? Is there a simpler way? Think about it: You go to work and do the same things over and over again without ever questioning it. You're on auto-pilot. You're using the same systems and software as five, 10, 15 years ago. What if you made a few small changes? Could you save time? Or money?
Inefficient processes and workflows could be damaging your business – and you might not even know it. There's research to back this all up: Companies lose up to 30 percent in revenue every single year due to business inefficiencies. Most of these inefficiencies are technology-related, where difficult-to-use, outdated business systems and software overly complicate really simple tasks.
Picture two companies – Both looking pretty similar on paper: Business A and Business B. Business A has streamlined its systems and software. Business A is winning at life. Business B, on the other hand, is completely inefficient.
Business B ends up with the same results as Business A, eventually, but spends more time and money doing it.
Don't be a Business B. Here's how to optimise your systems and software so you can free up time, resources, and money.
Review Your Back-Office Processes
Face it, the back office is the boring bit of your business. This isn't where you make exciting money-making decisions or brainstorm new products but, instead, facilitate all of the processes that make your business work on a day-to-day basis.
This doesn't mean you should ignore your back office, mind. Quite the opposite, in fact. Taking time to review your back-office processes will make your organisation more efficient, from the inside-out.
First, find out whether there are any tasks that you complete that you just don't need to do. You might be carrying out financial audits once a week, for example. However, reducing this to once every fortnight or month might provide you with exactly the same results but free up resources in the process.
Then, find out about back-office automation. The latest software can automate many of the tasks associated with your back office, such as payment processing, invoicing customers, payroll, and more. This software might require an initial outlay, but it could provide you with a significant return on your investment over time because you will be able to reduce labor.
Finally, find out about outsourcing administrative tasks to a third company. You might not want to relinquish control over certain aspects of your business, but outsourcing is far more common than you think. Fifty-nine percent of companies use outsourcing as a cost-cutting tool, while 57 percent say it allows them to focus on their core business.
Undergo a Systems Review
You might rely on the same software that you've always relied on — the programs that keep your business up-and-running, from day to day to day. But is your software helping or hampering your business? How can you improve efficiency in business?
Over 55 percent of the world's software is out of date, including many business-critical programs. Not only can out-of-date software be vulnerable to hackers, but it can seriously slow down your business. Many old programs overcomplicate many simple processes, for example. It might take 10 minutes to complete a task that should only take 2 minutes.
This is why organisations of all shapes and sizes should carry out a regular systems review.
A systems review will provide you with valuable insights into the software that you currently use. You can find out whether certain programs execute your tasks efficiently, and whether you can make improvements.
After your systems review, you might want to consider incorporating new systems into your organisation to make life just that little bit easier. Again, brand new software can be costly, but if you research and choose correctly, this will pay for itself in no time.
You are not alone when it comes to carrying out a systems review, our experienced business advisors can do help you at every step along the way. Including suggestions on what software and apps to move to.
With the advancement of tech and apps, it’s very difficult these days to find one system to rule them all – Gone are the days of accounting, inventory, project management and CMS in one efficient, speedy program (did that every exist to begin with??)
At the very least, you need to make sure all your different programs "speak" to each other so you're not doing the same thing over and over again. If you need repeat and re-enter data in several programs because they don’t integrate, you’re one the wrong track.
Xero is one accounting software that has embraced this. They are pro’s in the accounting & bookkeeping space, but also offer an entire marketplace of apps that integrate with Xero – So you can streamline & automate a great many tasks, saving you time and allowing you to focus on growing your business.
It doesn't just have to be software. Review the current apps you use on your mobile devices and decide whether these are worth your time and money. Reviewing both software and apps, and looking for more efficient alternatives, will definitely make your business more successful.
Do you track and monitor any KPIs or Analytics?
Business analytics (BA) refers to all the methods and techniques that are used by an organisation to measure performance.
The latest data analytics provide you with invaluable intelligence into your existing systems and software so you can make smarter, quicker business decisions in the future. Metrics offer you a 360-degree overview of your organisation, and you can identify problems before they happen and make accurate predictions about business growth.
When you use analytics, you can save time when trying to make predictions about your business manually. Using the latest data visualisation will make it easier to streamline the systems in your business and improve efficiencies.
"Processes stagnate when businesses make the wrong move. That wrong move could mean delaying a decision because there was not enough information to make it, or powering forward with a big new idea because there was too little information," says Techopedia. "That's why analytics has become such a key tool in guiding business decisions."
Working with the wrong people and sometimes lead to business inefficiencies. Review your business and decide whether you can "cleanse" or replace some of the components that are holding you back.
If suppliers are failing you, it might be time to look elsewhere. For example, suppliers who provide you with inferior products and materials, or take too long to deliver items, could jeopardise your business. You might want to look elsewhere when contracts are up for renewal.
It might have been a good idea to work with certain shareholders when you set up your business. However, as your company has grown, these shareholders might not be providing you with much value. Think about whether it's worthwhile to buy out certain shareholders for better business growth.
"That silent shareholder can become a point on resentment and stop you from making the best long term decisions for you and your business," says BusinessDepot.com.
Placing the Right Staff in the Right Areas
Optimising your staff will help you save valuable resources and improve workflows in your organisation. Moreover, utilising the skills of your employees will grow your business. You might have a member of staff who, under your supervision, would be perfect to run a whole systems review, which could save time and generate better results.
you are not sure what skillsets your employees possess, work alongside them.
This will also help you learn more about your business. Your staff are at the
front line of your organisation, so they can tell you what really works (and
what doesn't) in your organisation.
Work With a Professional
Sometimes, it's just not possible to see all the inefficiencies in your organisation because you "live" and "breathe" your business every single day. Often, it's a good idea to seek out an outsider's perspective so you can make improvements in your process admin. Using a professional accountant, in particular, is useful because it's likely that many of your business efficiencies are finance-related.
Running a business is tough work, but it's a lot easier when you have professionals like us by your side. Trekk Advisory cares just as much about assisting to remove stress from owner-life and growing your business, as we care about getting all your accounting and compliance work in order.
you’re not sure where to begin, we can put a fresh set of eyes on your business.
You can get a free business review from one of our qualified, experienced
accountants. If they find nothing wrong with your current accounting processes,
you have the peace of mind that everything's good. If they do find
inefficiencies, we provide an action plan customised to your business. Click here to
find out more!
Bad processes are bad for business. The more inefficiencies you have within your organisation, the more damage you are doing. Reviewing your back-office processes, undergoing a systems review, using analytics and metrics, "cleansing" your business, and working with a professional accountant will help you remove all of the efficiencies in your organisations so you can save time, resources, and money. If you're systems & processes are in need of a cleanup, contact us today to turn that frown upside down.
Director & Business Advisor
Tony is a director of Trekk Advisory and based in our Brisbane office. He works heavily in the advisory space for his clients, focusing on strategic management consulting, mentoring, planning and more to make a difference in their businesses and lives.