We live in an APP abundant world right now. For example, you can find an APP that lets you add to a shopping list that coordinates across your entire family, one that posts on social media for you, and even one that shows you how to tie a tie. How do you know when it’s the right time to APP up and implement business automation to any of your processes? As usual, follow the money.
The point of automating any process is to simplify. To make it more efficient. In other words, to save money. How do you know if that’s happening?
What’s the cost of business automation?
- The price per month
- The per-user fee
- The per-transaction fee
These are all quantifiable measurements. You will know exactly what you will spend each month on the App that streamlines your office process.
What does it save?
Let’s use Accounts Payable as an example. Here are the manual steps performed by one or more of your employees:
- Open the mail
- Unfold the papers
- Throw away the ads that are stuffed in the envelope
- But save the envelope to mail the check back!
- Prepare the stack of bills for the approver
- Put them in alpha or due date order
- Manually key them into QuickBooks
- Wait for the approver to tell you which ones to pay
- Put check stock in the printer
- Yell to the rest of the office that you’re printing checks!
- Take the checks to the signer
- Wait for them to be signed
- Stuff the envelopes, filling out that little “return this portion with your payment” form
- Affix stamps
- Walk to the mailbox
Now let’s look at the automated version of that:
- Log into the A/P app
- Make any adjustments or entries necessary
- Send to approver
- Click Sync to QB (some apps do this on their own)
- Once bills are approved, Click Pay
- Go get a fresh cup of coffee
Just reading these steps gives you a good idea of how much faster your AP clerk can get things done. The approver still has to look over everything, but that piece is more efficient too. You can easily assign a dollar value to the time you’ve saved for your clerk and for the approver. Compare that to the cost of the App. That should make you smile.
What else should you consider on business automation?
Which one? It’s no exaggeration to say there are thousands of Apps for accounting procedures. How do you know which one to use? Many of them offer free trials. Take them up on it. Look at the customer reviews in the QuickBooks App center. People will be brutally honest, especially if the experience was a bad one. Ask in the accounting forums. You’ll get valuable feedback from people who have used particular apps.
Make sure you think of all of the costs involved. There will be a learning curve. Some apps are much easier to learn than others. Some have better customer service and more robust onboarding assistance. Figure the implementation time into the initial investment. But those expense dollars will go away over time. Your staff can eventually become experts in the procedures you choose. Some even offer certification training. This is a great way for your staff to gain in-depth knowledge.
“The System is Temporarily Unavailable.” Yes. It happens. Not often, but no matter how infrequent, it is always exactly when you need it. Just have a plan for reverting to your old manual system if necessary. Don’t throw away that checked stock. It could come in handy if your Internet is down.
Employee happiness. This is one you can’t measure, but you know it when you see it. There is great value in making your employees feel better about the tasks they are performing. Investing in business automation software shows them you value their time and want to help them be more efficient.
Fewer mistakes. Sure, you can still miss-key numbers or click the wrong vendor’s name off the list, but with good checks and balances, you are going to have fewer mistakes. This is not easy to quantify, but there is a dollar value involved. Recently, I had a client who put a check into the wrong envelope. When the vendor received it, they cashed it, even though they were not the payee. And it cleared the bank. This won’t happen with electronic payments.
Dumbest Reason Not to Automate
The owner: “I do this job, so it doesn’t cost me anything.”
So your time is worthless, Mr. Business Owner? What could you be doing instead of those tedious steps we just listed? Working on a new project? Having lunch with a prospective client? Attending a networking event? Eating dinner with your family?
Even if you are doing this task yourself, it is costing you a great deal. Remember what Ben Franklin said: Time is money. Find the perfect App, and it will save you both!