Save yourself time by taking your most time-consuming process and make it more efficient. Are the processes you currently have in place the most efficient or effective?
How many processes does your business have because “that is the way we have always done it“? Quite often these processes are set up at the beginning of the business and as time passes and the company grows, the process remains the same.
It is a common thing you hear – People Don’t Like Change!
Firstly, accept that although the process you have in place is the way it has always been done, it maybe isn’t the best way. And don’t worry too much at this stage about what it needs to become or how it will be changed. Making this change may use up more of your time initially, but it is an investment, the time you are spending now will save you time in the future.
Take a look at the process that you currently have in place and consider:
- What is the process trying to achieve?
Strip the process back to the bare bones and think about what the process is needed for.
- Who is completing this process?
If it isn’t you, speak to the people who take part in it and ask for their feedback. You should also oversee the whole process and see if it is being carried out the way you intended it at the start. Is the person completing the process the best person for the job, or was it just allocated to them when the team was smaller and it didn’t fit anyone else’s role? Are you completing this task yourself when actually it isn’t the best use of your time and it could be delegated?
- What is the most time-consuming element?
Is it the whole process that takes time? Or are there perhaps a couple of manual elements, or parts of it that are more prone to error, or does it maybe get passed around lots of people/departments?
Once you have reviewed these elements you are now able to evaluate what parts of the process can be improved.
Think outside of the box, you can improve the method as well as the process. Don’t restrict yourself to only improving the issues within the process, you could change the method to make the whole process more efficient. You could change the people who are completing the process. Or you could use software and automation to save yourself and your team time. To see some examples of how to change a finance process, check out the bottom of this post.
It is important to think about the implementation of those changes and create a well thought out implementation plan.
- How long will it take to put those improvements in place?
Put a realistic timescale in place for the implementation and try to stick to it.
- Will you need to carry out a trial period to make sure it works?
Think about who will complete the trial and for how long.
- Will your team need training, if so when will you train them and who will train them?
Training documents are also important, will you perhaps prepare a presentation to make it visual, will you train people in person one by one? It is always useful to prepare notes so people can refer back to the process.
- Are you prepared to train your team on these changes?
Be prepared for people to be reluctant to change, as stated at the start – people don’t like change! You should be equipped to deal with negativity or concerns about the change, be prepared for potential concerns or questions and make sure you can easily explain why this is better. If your team includes managers and staff, ensure your managers are onboard with this change and can relay positive messages to the team, involving management when considering the change at the very start will aid this.
- When is the best time to implement?
Friday afternoons or Monday mornings would generally be a bad time to implement a new process, but you know your own business and workload fluctuations.
Something that is often neglected when implementing a process change is reviewing it. In the first few days and weeks of implementing your new process make sure you are evaluating its success. If the process isn’t quite working to plan you can tweak the process or change it to make it work as you intended. If it works as intended and you are reaping the rewards of the change then sure you celebrate its success!
I would love to know if you found this post helpful or if you have your own experiences of changing a process and how it worked for you. Feel free to contact me!
Or contact me if you would like some help to change a process for your business, getting an outsiders view can sometimes make it easier.
Examples of Changing a Finance Process:
Example 1 – Credit Control
An easy way to make a time consuming task more efficient is through the use of automation. If your task is computerised are there parts of the process that are being completed manually that don’t actually require manual input? An example of this is credit control:
- Sales invoices are recorded in your accounting software
- Payment of those sales invoices are recorded in your accounting software
- You or your accounts person/team is manually reviewing overdue debts and chasing the debtor themselves
If using an accounts software such as Xero, you could use email reminders and automation to improve cashflow and save time:
- You can set up to three different reminders to be set at certain time scales, e.g 1st email – due date + 2 days (a gentle reminder), 2nd email – due date + 7 days (request for immediate payment), 3rd email – due date + 14 days (firm demand for payment and request they get in touch)
- You can tailor each of the reminders to have a different message.
- You can set a monetary value that the reminders will not be sent if the invoice is under a particular value, so your customers/clients don’t get chased for small amounts that may be paid with a larger invoice which hasn’t been issued yet.
- You can turn off reminders for certain invoices or clients if you don’t chase for a certain reason, or perhaps the invoice is in dispute.
Example 2 – Petty Cash
Amy, Simon and Lucy from Accounts record petty cash expenses on Excel, because that is the way it has always been done. But the company isn’t just buying a pint of milk and a few bits of stationary each week, the petty cash spend has increased significantly as the company has grown. Suddenly there is a difference when you tried to match the petty cash in the tin compared to Excel sheet. Easy ways to improve would be:
- Put one person in charge of Petty Cash, only that one person will look after the Petty Cash tin and update the Excel Sheet.
- Add sums into the Excel sheet so it has a running balance and that person can check it against the cash in the tin each day/week.
Although arguably these changes would improve this process, you could go one step further:
- If you have accountancy software I assume that you then have to replicate the Excel sheet into your software?
- Set up a bank account in the accountancy software and name it Petty Cash account.
- Record all expenses directly into the accounts software, rather than excel as payments from this account.
- Cash withdrawals to top up Petty Cash can now be recorded as bank transfer from the Bank to Petty Cash.
- You have a quick reference to the balance and you can refer to it to check against the physical cash in the tin.
- This will also reduce potential errors in transferring the transactions from Excel to your software.