Article credit: Sage
The amount of economic value lost to admin in South Africa in the last 12 months totalled R7.2 billion, according to the Sage Productivity Tracker research. That works out to R229 every second of the day.
The amount of time that South African businesses spend on admin compares favourably to international benchmarks, but businesses can do more to reduce the time they spend on routine tasks like generating invoices, paying taxes, chasing payments, and issuing payslips.
Here are 15 ideas to help you save time on admin tasks, so that you can focus on projects that really matter.
1. Get rid of invoicing
Got your attention here, didn’t we? Invoicing is a necessary business process, but because sending invoices and collecting outstanding payments can be time consuming, why not get someone else to do it for you, like your sales or field staff?
Most accounting software packages offer an app that lets your sales team issue electronic invoices, from their phones or tablets, while visiting the customer. This reduces delays in billing and there’s no confusion about whether the invoice was sent.
2. Outsource in-house
Anything that doesn’t require financial expertise can be “outsourced” to other team members. For example, the same salesperson that issued an invoice can also be tasked with following up on payment – the incentive being that they only get their commission once the invoice is paid, so making this part of their regular process is in their best interest.
Your accounting software should alert the team when an invoice is due, so that they can start following up on payment.
3. Estimate accurately
Valuable time goes into creating cost estimates. The more accurate and detailed these are, the quicker and easier it is to convert them to invoices using your accounting software. At the most, you can copy these details from the estimate into the invoice.
ideally, this process should also be managed by the field and sales teams.
4. Schedule time for similar tasks
You may have heard that the most efficient way to approach your day is to follow a to-do list and tick off tasks as you complete them.
While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it can be easy to get side-tracked by smaller tasks that sneak onto the list. Rather group your tasks into similar categories, like chasing payments, and schedule blocks of time to tackle them at once. This helps you to focus on one thing at a time, which will increase your productivity.
You might be tempted to stop what you’re doing to attend to client queries that seem urgent, but try to stay focused. Only respond to queries immediately if they really are urgent, otherwise let your client know that you’ll get back to them by close of business. Unless, of course, it will take two minutes to complete…
5. Apply the two-minute rule
If a task takes two minutes or less, do it immediately. It’s a quick and easy way to get through the tasks on your list and it’s incredibly effective.
If, for example, a client emails you asking if an invoice has been sent, it’ll take longer to respond to the query and add the task to your to-do list, which has already been divided into time blocks. It’d be easier and faster to log onto your accounting software, check if the invoice has been sent, and respond to the client immediately. That’s one less task to worry about – and it took less than two minutes to complete.
6. Challenge yourself
As you work out your schedule, you’ll find that you can manage your time better and will get an understanding of how long it takes to complete certain tasks, like sending five invoices in one hour.
Use these time frames to be more productive. For example, challenge yourself to send six invoices in an hour. This will be easier to do if you’re grouping similar tasks together because you’ll find ways to be more efficient and will notice that certain processes can be shortened or excluded altogether.
7. Create a timetable
When we were in school, our days were divided into chunks, focusing on different subjects for an hour or two at a time. We had a lot to learn back then, and these chunks forced us to focus on one thing at a time, for a short burst of time, with breaks in-between.
Now that you’re in control of your own schedule, you can divide your day into ‘time chunks’ and assign tasks to those chunks. You can decide if one task needs a single chunk, or a double.
A timetable will make you more productive and efficient, because it schedules your day and tells you where to place your focus, and for how long. Once you get used to the routine, you’ll be less likely to deviate from it.
Remember: scheduling time for breaks is as important as scheduling work.
Most accounting software will have automation features that can handle basic tasks. Thanks to machine learning and AI, you can program the software to send payment reminders or record invoice payments. You can also automate bank reconciliation to link payments to their entry on a bank statement.
It’ll take some time to set up in the beginning, but you’ll be amazed at how effective it is and how much time it can save you.
Kiteview Technologies (Pty) Ltd was founded in May 2010 to provide the Sage Evolution Business Management solution to the SME market. The management team of Kiteview have combined +30 years of experience in the delivery of small to mid-market Financial & Business Management solutions. This experience, combined with a sound project implementation methodology has helped in Kiteview’s growth, becoming a Platinum status partner for SAGE Pastel within just 1 year.
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