Many business owners are so taken up with the daily tasks of simply running their business – whether that be managing clients, cash flow, or tackling internal resources – that they don’t get to spend a lot of time on improving it. Sound familiar? But these processes that keep your small business going could be holding it back.
Interestingly, SMEs are finding that taking the time to overhaul their operations can free them up to focus on the neglected parts of their business. Rethinking operations may seem risky, but with more and more technological innovations arriving every day, the transition is easier than you might expect.
Now’s the time to take advantage of the new technologies on offer and overcome the key issues business owners typically face.
Real-time business insights of your performance
Rachel Markus, Managing Director of IT services firm Combo, believes one concerning issue impacting small businesses is visibility of timely, key financial metrics and making them available to the rest of the organisation.
It’s crucial you and your team have a clear view of your current financial position and how your business is performing 24/7. Cloud-based accounting solutions have been around for some time now, but it’s their functionality as reporting and analytics systems that’s really valuable.
“By implementing the right cloud system, you’re enabling others within the organisation to see key metrics live as well,” says Markus.
Ideally you should have an accounting system in place with a dashboard providing a bird’s-eye view of your performance so you can receive reliable insights on sales, outstanding balances, customer drivers and more, in order to make effective business decisions.
Ensuring good governance over bookkeeping and compliance
Forget backing up files to a USB – it’s important that you can easily and securely share the data with as many people as you like, whether it’s your accountant or your bookkeeper.
“The right cloud system will enable external accountants and auditors to log in, monitor and provide timely advice and governance,” says Markus.
A lot of small businesses manage these sorts of issues ‘as best as they can’, which means things aren’t always accessible at your fingertips when you need them.
Duplicate systems, data entry and reconciliation: How accurate is your data?
If you’re taking data from one system and manually keying it into another, you’re likely to waste a lot of time, and introduce errors, leading to potential compliance risks, suggests Markus.
The right software will streamline these processes by automatically migrating data and mitigating the risk of human error, not to mention improving the quality of life for whoever’s been charged with managing these laborious tasks in the first place.
Accounting software also has ways of checking and reconciling figures, so that you will be alerted if you enter the incorrect amount on an invoice, for example, or entered a date incorrectly.
Choosing the right software
Some small business owners may be wary of switching technical solutions, due to the concern that it may disrupt their business. But for accounting and wealth investment firm Tax Talk, using Sage One cloud accounting application was a smooth transition, and they were able to continue their business as usual.
Managing director Dominic Barba says the switch not only increased Tax Talk’s credibility to clients, but also increased the team’s efficiency and productivity which ultimately improves client service.
“I was able to import historical data… which resulted in me being able to sift through eight years of data in one week and this was a significant time saver.”
Four questions to consider when choosing the right software
Here’s IT expert Rachel Markus’ checklist to keep front of mind when doing software research for your own business:
- Usability: Will the cloud application actually save you time in data entry, reconciliation and reporting?Does it have automated bank feeds? Does it have data matching so that regular transactions are auto-coded quickly? Does it have bulk cash coding rules?
- Support for key business process: Will the cloud application actually deliver best practice on your core accounting functions?
- Seamless integration: Does it easily integrate into your other applications? If not now, is it likely to as time progresses?
- Reporting capabilities: How good is the reporting? Is it flexible?Can you export reports and data to spreadsheets for further analysis? Can you hook a dashboard reporting tool into it for executive information?
Answer these key questions before deciding on the best software for your business.
Written by: Thea Christie
Learn more about secure online accounting solutions for your small business here.
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