Accounting departments are often the most document and data-rich environments in an organisation and they can also be one of the most costly in terms of time, money and resources. But your accounts department can be enabled to do more for less.
Businesses strive to be more productive – and get more return on their investments – without adding the additional debts which would come alongside employing extra employees to manage an ever-increasing workload, or spending excessive amounts of time in efficiency meetings.
But how can you find ways to increase productivity when adding staff is out of the question? Finding ways to increase productivity in the same amount of time is just one way it can be done. Businesses large and small are replacing manual tasks and workflows with automated solutions to save thousands upon thousands of work hours per year.
These automated solutions are replacing often repetitive, error-prone, manual activities—and creating time that even the most efficient employees and businesses didn’t know they had.
For example, by automating their purchasing processes, Frito Lay saved between 30,000-50,000 work hours per year. Of course, that’s just one process and one very large corporation – so, how can automating business processes add hours, even days, of work time using your current employee count?
Where you can find time savings
First, let’s talk about where this time can be saved. Typical day-to-day business tasks include:
- Working with paper/forms/documents
- Creating, completing, reading, correcting, exchanging, reproducing, filing, cross-referencing, updating, etc.
- Working with clients/peers/partners
- Calling, faxing, emailing, face-to-face conferencing/interactions, online conferencing/interaction
- Working within processes
And let’s not forget; creating information; gathering/assembling information; delivering information in person, and/or by fax, phone, email and mail; gating a process by approving, rejecting or asking for clarification; finding and improving inefficiencies in processes.
Let’s consider how much time employees are spending on these tasks:
According to the second State of Enterprise Work study, respondents are most likely to cite wasteful meetings (64%) and excessive time spent on email (61%) as the top culprits that get in the way of their work. Trailing behind in third place was excessive oversight (48%)—defined as too much red tape, approvals and reviews— followed by lack of standard processes for workflow (45%).
What about your team? Would you rank these as your top four distractions, and would you put them in the same order? Or perhaps some of the following lower-ranking results from the survey are dragging you down even more:
- unexpected phone calls (39%)
- lack of team collaboration (34%)
- poor work prioritisation methods company-wide (32%)
- client hand-holding (32%)
- excessive delegation from managers (29%)
- poor alignment between team and corporate goals (25%)
Would it help if we told you to just stop it? Stop holding wasteful meetings, stop emailing so much, and stop the excessive oversight. Probably not. The truth is, many of these issues are related. You could try to address each of the distractions individually, or you can implement a single solution that will address them all—or at least the top four survey answers.
It all comes down to process. A well-designed, dynamic process that evolves along with the changing needs of the team—supported by comprehensive work management software—can provide collaboration tools that will keep both meetings and email in check, enough transparency to reduce interruptive oversight, and a strong structure to keep work flowing along smoothly.
Though exact time-savings calculations depend on individual business concerns and chosen solutions (many process improvement and document management companies have calculators you can use to understand time-savings and financial returns based on your specific needs) it is easy to see how automated processes can recover nearly all of these hours and add two manpower days a week with the same staff.
Digitising documents means:
Admin time spent working with any of these documents can be done at an automated speed. They can be electronically filed, sent, researched, cross-referenced, duplicated and updated. Time in meetings can be optimised. Collaboration can happen instantly, across geographies, with access to any and all pieces of digital information necessary. Results of collaboration can also be shared and/or acted on instantly (as opposed to having a meeting about the meeting).
Automating whole processes means:
Email interaction that used to be “1 to 1” can be “1 to many.” Automated solutions allow collaborative workflows that enable communication between parties to happen in real-time, with a greater view of the whole process. For example, employees don’t have to keep track of who said what when—within the limiting context of their own inbox.
Interruptions can be limited or avoided altogether. Automated processes allow transactions, research, filing, cross-referencing, approvals, etc all to happen in a single digital environment, often from a single screen—without having to get up from a desk, answer a phone, manually look for a file, call a colleague or be interrupted by unnecessary phone calls, information/status requests or drive-bys.
Automated solutions can help even the most productive companies take efficiency standards to the next level by recovering valuable time that can then be spent on the real work of doing business.
If you are keen to realise the benefits of quicker payments via automaton and optimise your Accounts Payable department, you can download our free white paper ‘Empower your Accounts Department’.