Think before acting - avoid both time wasting and duplicated effort

Developments in software, apps and IT in general can dramatically change the ways of working…a) if someone is aware of those developments or products and b) if someone is prepared to change. The latter may have been the habits of a lifetime so breaking the mould is often a challenge.

Spending just a little time looking at how people work, what they do, and how they do it can often lead to significant time savings and cut out repetitive data entry.

A recent example – a small club had a point of sale system. Daily readings were summarised in a Google Doc and someone else then opened the Google Doc and typed the data once again into the accounting software.

Someone was similarly taking totals from a payroll system and keying them into an Excel spreadsheet, and someone else was copying the data from the spreadsheet and re-typing it into the accounts software.

It worked in both instances, but there were “better” ways of achieving the same end result and only having to type the data once.

It is refreshing though when a client (who has only recently started using computerised systems) starts to use a new piece of software and asks if it could be linked to his accounting records to avoid having to type in all the data form the daily reports. This happened recently – the website of the software referred to open API links, so we were able to put the client in touch with a specialist developer who is now looking at implementing this integration.

There are just so many things that can be done – finding the time to delve into systems and procedures is often the biggest hurdle. And there are often obstacles in the way – in the form of staff. Doing something more efficiently or automating a process means one less thing for existing staff to do.

Cloud accounting does make it so much easier to be able to gain an insight at any time as to how items are being processed, and just a few minutes is usually all that is needed to be able to come up with a list of possible areas to address for starters.

Another recent example – a review of the trial balance showed £’000s being paid out as mileage expenses. A drill down indicated these were bank payments each time – sometimes with VAT being claimed and sometimes not - inconsistent. What is not clear from those records how the mileage claims ae completed, but the chances are pretty high that someone completes an Excel spreadsheet. Cue a chat about mileage apps that can link straight to the accounting records.

A further review indicated a large amount of credit card transactions – all entered manually. Have they looked at bank feeds for this card? Have they investigated the new credit cards which can automatically send transactions into the software?

Think for every client-what could be done differently in this business?

Any success stories to share?