The technology side of business is rapidly changing and expanding. There is no shortage of new and innovative software applications springing up to help small businesses automate their processes and save time and money.
The best way to gain from all of this innovation is to first identify where you can best make use of technology in your business. Here are three places to look:
1. The Paper Chase
Which business tasks are you still using pen and paper for? Look what’s on your desk or in your filing cabinet in the form of paper, and that will be your next opportunity for automation. For example, are you still hand-writing checks and processing vendor’s paper invoices? There are apps for that.
Sticky notes and to-do lists have been replaced with online notebooks and task management apps. Business cards you collect can be scanned into a CRM (customer relationship manager). All of your accounting invoices and bills can be digitized and stored online. Paper statements and bank reconciliations can be eliminated with electronic real-time reconciliation.
Make a list of all the manual and paper processes you do every day and look for apps that can make tasks faster for you.
2. Fill the Gap
Take stock of what systems you already have in place. The opportunity to fill the gap is where you might have systems that should talk to each other but don’t. If you need to enter data into two different places, there may be a chance to automate and/or integrate the systems or data. For example, your point of sale or billing system should fully integrate with your accounting system. A few other integration examples include
Accounting + Payroll
CRM + Accounting
Inventory + Accounting
Project Management + Time Tracking
Time Tracking + Payroll.
The more your systems integrate and work as a suite, the better.
It could be that you do have your systems automated, but the systems are not the best choice for your business needs or scalable for growth. If your systems don’t meet many of your business requirements, it may be time to look for an upgrade or a replacement.
If you are performing a lot of data manipulation in Excel or Access, this might also signal that your systems are falling short of your current needs. Look to where that’s happening, and you will have identified an opportunity for improvement.
Look at these three areas in your business, and I bet you’ll not only find an app for that, you’ll also find some freed-up time and money once you automate.
We work specifically with some of the best apps in the market, so contact us for help.