Three Business Processes You Should Automate NOW

processes to automate now

Prior to 1440, the process of creating a book was, to say the least, painstaking. Everything was done by hand, and creating even one copy of a book was a full-time job.

Enter Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith by trade who revolutionized printing with his press, which included moveable type, allowing for mass production of printed materials. Adoption was swift, and history didn’t look back. But that’s not to say there weren’t a few holdouts.

For instance, many nobles in the 15th century decried the practice of mass print production, refusing to even allow printed books in their libraries and insisting they weren’t as well made as hand-printed books.

What the printing press has done for printing and publishing, automation has done for business. As with all new technology, the adoption rate falls along a bell curve, and there are some fervent holdouts: The old ways are more familiar, there’s a feeling of control involved in manually inputting data from a paper timesheet by hand or writing out an invoice yourself. But, like the printing press, the businesses who make the leap to core automated systems don’t look back.

What are the most critical automated processes your business should adopt in 2016 to dramatically increase your productivity and efficiency?

Time tracking, payroll, and invoicing.

Not only do these three processes work together synergistically to cut costs and drastically improve efficiency, but each one eliminates hours of tedious manual work and data entry, freeing up that time for more strategic business work.

Time Tracking

For most businesses, direct labor costs are the #1 expense. And the hours required to track down, review and input the data from paper timesheets takes up a significant portion of time for bookkeepers and admins--not to mention the time employees spend trying to remember what they actually worked on.

The American Payroll Association estimates that on average, it takes 5 minutes to process a handwritten employee time card--and that an automated time tracking solution can decrease the time it takes to process a time card to 1 minute per employee.

Chris Langford, who made the leap from manual time entry to automated time tracking last year, says, “Four hours of payroll every week has turned into 15 minutes. Which means I was spending 16 hours a month running payroll before I started [automating time tracking]. Now it’s an hour.” He adds, “When employees submit their time to me now, my work is basically done. All I have to do is scan over everything and make sure it’s correct.”

And that’s not the only advantage of automating time data: According to Robert Half International and the American Payroll Association (APA), “time theft” (e.g., when employees “fudge” their time by rounding up to the nearest hour or failing to record long lunches or breaks) exceeds 10 minutes per day, per employee. High value, automated time tracking systems will include a view of which employees are on the clock and where they’re located through GPS; a record of all edits, additions and deletions of time data; overtime management options; time tracking settings that are DCAA-compliant; and the ability to easily integrate with other key processes like payroll and invoicing.

Payroll

Accurate, automated payroll can make an incredible difference in your company, not to mention meeting the increasingly stringent demands of audits, labor disputes, government regulations, and tax liabilities.

The National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB, has found that 64% of small businesses do their own payroll in-house, and that 62% use a spreadsheet to process payroll. Why go to the time and painstaking effort to manually enter time data into a spreadsheet? Thirty-seven percent replied that it was done in an effort to “save money,” while 32% cited an attempt to “maintain greater control.”

As far as saving money goes, the American Payroll Association finds that companies save an average of 2-8 percent of an employee’s salary by automating payroll. As for control and accuracy, with real-time hours flowing in from your automated time tracking solution, no manual entry or guesswork required, the results speak for themselves.

If you have 20 employees, each making $20 per hour, that’s $20,000 in savings annually, simply from switching to automated time tracking.

In addition to eliminating manual entry and increasing speed and accuracy in running payroll, you’ll also gain the benefits of paying employees in a timely manner, and having an easily accessible, accurate record of paychecks.

Invoicing

Avoiding client disputes and getting paid on time can mean the difference between cash flow emergencies and smooth sailing. Securing the ability to generate invoices quickly, accurately and automatically is the only option for long-term success.

With the synergy of automated time data and invoicing combined, it’s easy to drag and drop time billed by client, location or project into an itemized invoice that clearly shows when the work was completed, the billable rate, and any notes attached to the time data. As far as turnaround time goes, it’s now possible to invoice a client almost immediately, while the service performed is still top of mind, encouraging faster payment.

By automating, you’ll also gain an easy-to-access record, should you need to pull up an old invoice or identify expenses come tax time.

Change isn’t easy. But “tried and true” can be a slippery slope to “slow and out-of-date.” Give these three modern business updates a try. If you’re like most business owners, you won’t be looking back.

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About Kelly Bistriceanu

Kelly is known as the “Accountant Big Cheese” around the TSheets office. She has an unwavering commitment to working alongside accountants and bookkeepers as they navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of the ever-evolving industry. Her catchphrase, “I <3 (heart) accountants!” is more like a life motto. As the Accountant Program Director at TSheets, Kelly runs an unmatched affiliate program and works to make life easier for accounta­nts everywhere using TSheets’ cutting edge technology and its best-of-breed integrated app partners.