Our seventh episode in our introductory 10-Part Strategic Planning Series is focused on infrastructure. More specifically, we are discussing automation of processes and how investing in the setup of that infrastructure can save your time, sanity and business overall. If your business is running on many manual processes, this episode is going to be LIFE-CHANGING. Alright, that may be a little dramatic, but automation of certain components of your business can streamline current processes and take away headaches.
What we cover in this episode:
- 2:40 – The importance of efficiency and time savings
- 4:15 – Infrastructure in bill pay
- 10:30 – Importance of integration
- 14:10 – Infrastructure in payroll and time tracking
- 20:00 – Infrastructure in project management & team communication
- 23:10 – Infrastructure in marketing & sales
- 25:00 – Use of bots and AI in your infrastructure
- 30:00 – Conclusion
The Importance of efficiency and time savings
Part of what we do here at PJS & Co. CPAs is help business owners find ease in operations. The following are some of the more popular processes and infrastructure considerations that have had the largest impact for our clients in the past.
Finding ways to improve processes is a big part of business success and scalability. The incorporation of infrastructure for your business is an integral component to strategic planning. If you are tied up in doing everything manually, it can take up your valuable time and ultimately hold you back from accomplishing your goals.
There are definitely costs associated with the software and programs we discuss in this episode, but it is important to understand how incorporating these ideas can have a significant positive impact on your business.
The other important consideration is that the ultimate goal in automation and streamlining of processes is not to get rid of a staff, but to give them back time to do tasks that will better serve the business and team.
Infrastructure in bill pay & Accounts Receivable
If you are still manually handwriting checks, there are better ways to do this! There are systems available, like Bill.com, that help streamline the bill pay process. This system allows you to add all of your vendors once and that’s it. You can set it up to either mail out a check or create e-payments.
One big advantage is that you can set up an approval process. The admin/bookkeeper can scan the bill into the system, complete all of the data entry and then send this onto a manager or business owner to give the final approval.
Bill.com also holds all of your information. Any bills that are scanned in are stored here for future reference and there is no need to go digging through paper records.
The importance of integration
Integration is huge and means removing duplicate work. Whatever programs you are bringing over, you have to look at how it’s going to work with your current processes.
Not all integrations are perfect and not all systems are created equal. This is why it’s important to know what exactly you need and know to ask questions about how a new system may work together with your established systems and procedures. You can avoid headaches and hours spent on the phone with tech support if you ensure that your automation integrates with your accounting system, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), point of sale, etc.
Infrastructure in payroll & time tracking
We always recommend using a third party system for processing payroll. We have worked with clients who wanted to save money and process payroll themselves, but this can be dangerous. One client came to us with back taxes of over $25,000 because they hadn’t paid on time and in the correct amounts.
By enlisting the help of a third party company like ADP or Paychex, you can offload some of the liability. Let them be the experts in payroll. They help automate the system, make the payments out to your employees, send payments out to taxing agencies on a monthly or quarterly basis and take on the liability. You must still ensure the information you provide is correct, but they take care of the taxes and payments. For more information about HR risks and considerations, listen to episode #6.
Both of the above mentioned companies, ADP and Paychex, offer time tracking solutions as well. Staff can login through a mobile app that integrates seamlessly to simplify the process. You can set up errors to flag and review time sheets. The ability to decrease the chances of error by simplifying your processes is not only a time-saver but also decreases the risk of paying your employees incorrectly.
Infrastructure in project management & team communication
Trello and Asana are popular tools we have used amongst our team to improve communication and project management. Trello is a program we use in our own firm to manage projects and manage our own day and tasks as well. It’s great for creating checklists that are repeated regularly and for collaboration on a team. We have heard great things about Asana as well but do not have as much personal experience with this tool.
Slack is a great tool for teams in general. It has been a nice program for our team as a virtual company. You have the ability to create channels for different types of discussions and integrates with Trello as well.
Infrastructure in marketing & sales
Mailchimp and Infusionsoft, now a part of Keap, are great options that can help you with marketing automating and email campaigns for your business. Both of these systems allow you to set up a level of automation when you have individuals signing up for a newsletter or requesting a free consultation, etc. Both systems also have features that allow you to create landing pages and separate your audience for personalization of messaging.
Use of bots and AI in your infrastructure
There’s no doubt about it – Bots are becoming a bigger part of our lives day by day. They have taken over quite a few of the messaging apps on social media and website chat boxes. Automation and Artificial Intelligence has made its way into the accounting world as well with promises of fully automated bookkeeping.
While most automation is very helpful, you have to keep the user experience in mind and ensure that the levels of automation you employ don’t have a negative impact.
Automation and integration are two of the biggest time savers you will find. There are an abundance of companies, software solutions and computer programs available to incorporate into the infrastructure you establish or revise for your company.
It comes down to recognizing that there are efficiencies out there, tracking the amount of time and stress you are wasting on a manual process or current process. Take some time to research the solutions available to you and take a look at the cost/benefit analysis.
Another key takeaway from today’s episode is that incorporating this infrastructure should not be an afterthought. By establishing your infrastructure early, your business will scale much more easily and you will save yourself the stress that can accompany clunky or inefficient systems.