10 Ways to Use the Time you Save with Management Automation
Don't let spreadsheets hold you back from growing your business
We’ve written in the past about the time and effort involved in making manual expense claims. What may seem like a small task on a day by day basis can soon grow to consume a large percentage of the working month or year.
Numerous studies have detailed the cost – in hours and money – of manual expense systems.
A survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of smart payment providers Soldo found that employees of UK SMEs spend a total of 23 full days out of a 46-week working year dealing with financial admin like expense claims.
Meanwhile, other studies have found that expense management systems, such as Zetadocs could cut the time spent processing expense reports by anything between 15% and 20% for anyone involved in processing invoices.
The arguments for expense management software generally revolve around the money that can be saved in terms of working hours and the avoidance of expense fraud. These are undeniably very good reasons for switching over to automated processes. No matter which specific figure you decide to focus on, it’s possible for an average sized organisation to save hours every week by using expense management software instead of filling in Excel-based expense spreadsheets.
But the positive and constructive ways in which automation saves time are often overlooked.
Here are a few suggestions as to how that time might be put to good use. What your business decides to do with it is down to you!
1. Process Innovation
You’ve saved time on expense management. Why not take a look at some of your other business processes and see how you could save time elsewhere?
Could your invoicing system be run more efficiently, for example, and would you achieve better results by storing all incoming documents – such as receipts or payment demands – digitally?
Having automated your expense processes, you could look at areas such as sales order processing and cash collection and estimate the working hours that could be cut each week.
2. Customer Care
No matter what kind of business you run, looking after your customers is paramount.
The time saved in dealing with expenses could be allocated to customer care, to responding more quickly to customer queries or complaints, even if that means something as simple as picking up a phone after just a couple of rings rather than having to put a customer or potential customer on hold.
The culture of some businesses is to spend as little time as possible on the phone with customers – whereas most customers actually value interaction with a human over an automated call system. Spending a little more time with a customer to address a query could be highly beneficial for engagement and loyalty and is far better than fobbing them off under pressure from workload.
3. Professional Development
Developing the skill sets of your staff means equipping them better for the work they do for you.
At the same time, it can boost the morale of the employee receiving the training, leaving them with a sense of value and self-worth. It can also enhance your reputation as an employer.
Even small businesses now find themselves bombarded with more data on their customers than ever before.
Collecting this data – for example about buying patterns and behaviors, or about payment preferences and methods – can be incredibly useful, but only if you have the time to analyse it.
The time saved by using expense management software could be spent bringing together data gathered by different departments of your business and conducting drill down analysis that helps draw conclusions to inform future policies.
5. Team Building and Cohesion
A happy team is a productive team, and the time you’re saving could be used to organize social and team building events to increase the cohesion within and across departments.
Another plus point is the fact that you’ll have the time to gather input into what kind of events the members of your team would find most useful.
6. Personal Projects
The time which the members of your admin team aren’t spending inputting figures into a spreadsheet could be dedicated to pursuing their own personal projects.
This might mean accessing online or computer-based training, organizing company social activities or doing some volunteering or working on a professional idea which they find inspiring.
Working at the top of a business can sometimes become isolating as you find yourself detached from the day to day reality of what your employees actually do.
You could combat this by using the time freed up to gather feedback from employees – either formally or informally, and via one on one meetings or group formats – and make sure you stay firmly in touch with what’s happening on the ‘shop floor’.
The world of social media offers virtually limitless opportunities to promote your brand and the work you do.
Employees who have more time on their hands could help to play a part in this, contributing to platforms such as Twitter or Facebook in a way which helps to set up a genuinely interactive relationship with your customer base.
9. Return Time
Perhaps the simplest way of using the time saved to improve staff morale – and with it productivity – would be to convert it into time off.
Members of the team could be allowed to finish earlier (say, on a Friday), or to take a specific number of hours per month off or even just work to a more flexible timetable.
10. Break out of the Silo
Members of the finance department could use the time they save to work in other departments of your business.
As the same kind of efficiency spreads throughout your business, the policy of ‘shadowing’ other departments could become the norm, enabling all employees to gain insight into how the business works as a whole, rather than being trapped within an emphasis purely on their own particular silo.
Make the Switch
The time you save by switching to expense management software could have a transformative impact on the way your business operates.
By saving money and tapping into the full potential of your employees, a change which starts in your finance department could eventually sweep through every aspect of the way you work.
You will soon find that the positive effect of management automation is a lot broader than just time and money
To learn how the Zetadocs Suite of software can help you improve your management processes – and all other aspects of your business as a result - contact Equisys on 44 (0)20 7203 4000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.