When was the last time you used a handheld calculator? Even if the old-school calculator is still quite at home in many small businesses, most entrepreneurs recognise there are more efficient ways to manage their finances than punching in figures one finger at a time. What they often overlook is how many other administrative and manual processes can be simplified and automated to save time and money.
No time to waste
Many entrepreneurs waste valuable time and resources on administrative tasks such as managing payroll and sending and following up on invoices. Finance process automation uses specialised software or virtual accounting services to automate tasks that would normally fall under a junior administrator or accountant such as reconciling accounts, journal entries, and preparing financial statements, to name a few. Business automation services can eliminate such repetitive, time-consuming tasks that are easy but gulp up time and resources.
Often those businesses that do use computerised systems continue working inefficiently by using multiple software systems that do not integrate with each other or outdated legacy server-based software that is not compatible with more efficient cloud technology. Automation can help entrepreneurs to overcome these and other challenges to build more efficient and profitable businesses.
Who needs business automation?
You may be a little sentimental about that old-school calculator you bought in 1993. Perhaps you feel a little more in control with it on your desk, ready to recheck that quote or invoice. Business automation may sound like a complex and expensive process that is only necessary for big companies operating complicated businesses. While technology undoubtedly helps to simplify difficult tasks, one of the biggest advantages of business automation is that it focuses on the very simplest of tasks that must be done in every business regardless of its size and complexity.
For example, startups that are still in their first few years of operation and rely on very small teams can use accounting software like Xero to create processes that fit their current needs and procurement policies. A business that is generating a few million rand in annual revenue and employs less than 10 people can benefit from custom, purpose-built solutions as it seeks to unlock scalability.
Established businesses – which may employ bigger teams and are already generating revenues in the tens of millions – can use automation services to streamline their operations or create centralised systems for growing operations in different locations. More mature businesses can also gain efficiency by automating manual processes that have become too cumbersome as the business has expanded. In such cases, automation offers a comprehensive technology solution that covers all aspects of the business process.
Small tasks, big difference
Automating day-to-day processes can improve efficiency in business operations, improve data integrity, and provide business owners with better insight into their finances. When everyday tasks are automated, it ensures greater consistency in teams and reduces the chances of errors and gaps. Standardisation of both input and output means that errors are automatically flagged and corrected, and cleaner data can be tracked from start to finish with confidence. Since financial and tax-related data has to be entered from a variety of functions in a business, it is important to have a seamless and consolidated view of that data to ensure compliance.
Standardised data also provides more accurate inputs for more insightful financial analysis and forecasting that can provide better comparisons of performance over time or predict future trends more effectively. When finance teams are not bogged down with completing, checking, and rechecking inputs (only to then inevitably spend more time searching for and fixing errors) they can shift their focus away from administration to areas that require specialised insight and intervention. Ultimately, automation empowers business owners to concentrate on strategic financial decisions and gives them greater control over their finances to help ensure the growth and financial health of their businesses in the long run.
Making all the pieces fit
While many business owners recognise that automating some of their business or accounting functions can be beneficial, they struggle with how to integrate an automated task – or the data it generates – into their overall business and accounting systems. The result is that the business fails to get the full benefit from automating the task. Cloud technology has provided the means to overcome this challenge and enables businesses to take a more holistic and, therefore, more efficient approach to implementing automation systems.
Outsourced CFO advises businesses to start the automation process by reviewing their current business system as a whole, instead of spending time and money to automate one function at a time. OCFO’s team uses a consultative process to help businesses identify their current pain points and support them in the design of their ideal business system with detailed integration and automation between all core business functions.
The finance function remains the core of this system and Outsourced CFO leads the implementation of new technologies, tweaks existing technologies, builds new applications, and ensures that technologies speak the same language through API integration. Drawing on the above approach, an organisation is enabled with a fully-fledged business system in the cloud, with no onsite services, expensive hardware infrastructures or lack of communication between systems. As technology evolves, Outsourced CFO provides clients continuous support to ensure their automation services remain up to date, in line with best practices, and updated with changes in technology protocols.
Automation can drive collaboration
Remote work can be hard when most of the files, documents and equipment in the office – and your team – are all scattered across multiple locations. Remote and cloud access can greatly benefit everybody responsible for entering accounting data, as documents are shared and easy to access, and there is no need to administer multiple data sources. Teams can also collaborate remotely, and managers can track entries in real-time without being in the same office, city or country. Setting up cloud access also allows you to make use of virtual accounting services easily.
Paper ledgers and handheld calculators are yesterday’s news, as are daily manual entries of all your accounts. Business Automation services can help scale your business and increase efficiency and productivity – making better use of the time and human capital that you have available.
Contact Outsourced CFO to move your business forward to a more efficient online future.