Why time-strapped businesses need time-savvy tech

“How is it lunchtime already?” A familiar phrase echoing around the office around the midday hours. It often feels like by the time you can finally get through all the admin, emails and calls to make time for value-adding activities, the end of day is nearing. And for SMBs, time can feel even more precious, with thinking time crucial for planning, strategising and innovating in a hotly competitive market.

A significant amount of this time can be spent on accounting admin, with manual and paper-based processes getting the essentials done, rather than allowing for time to spot new trends and ways to optimise business spending and operations. It’s telling that recent research, from accounting software platform Dext, found that almost two fifths (39%) of accountants spend over half their day on manual tasks.

In an increasingly digitised world, there’s no need to be bogged down by these time-consuming activities. In fact, not implementing even a basic form of accounting software can add an unnecessary strain on work-life balance, employee tasks and overall satisfaction. Yet nearly a third (30%) of respondents in the survey also reported that they don’t have the tools to automate processes.

So, how can time-savvy tech transform a time-strapped business?

Making the paper to digital transition

Two of the biggest time-consumers in accounting are manual data input and managing paper records. And two of the biggest qualities of accounting software are automating data and ensuring accuracy.

Time saving in terms of data entry

Accounting technology can collect data from different systems, accounting software and bank accounts and gather all of this information — from sales transactions to total expenses — into one platform. And when it comes to paper records, features such as automated data capture allow you to scan physical receipts, invoices and paperwork and upload them in bulk. This is made possible through optical recognition technology that is able to automatically extract this data from pictures and then safely store it on the accounting platform.

Time saving in terms of sanity checks

Time may be at a premium, but mistakes with your numbers can have more damaging ramifications. Yet carrying out numerous manual accuracy checks on data and compliance can still be open to mistakes, eat into time and create further stress. Accounting software, on the other hand,  is able to ensure a data accuracy of over 99%, injecting a trust in figures (without the need to repeatedly check data) and a confidence in processes.

Redefining how you use time

The paper to digital transition not only drives efficiency and streamlines processes, but creates a whole new world of actionable data.  Accounting software is not just a data extraction tool but an insight generator. This actionable data emerges from gathering both business-focussed and client-focused data from across the company to produce an overview on a variety of trends, team performance metrics and forecasting.

Rather than checking if numbers for spending and budgets are accurate, you’re using your time to work out how best to optimise business and client activity in relation to the actionable data you have at your fingertips. Whether you have an in-house finance team or you’re using an external accountant, adopting software allows you to deliver data-driven advice for clients, stakeholders and your own employees.

There’s a real artform to collecting all of the appropriate information, assessing it and then using the findings to report on outcomes and deliver valuable advice. These in-depth evaluations can help create company-wide improvement to operations, allocation of resources and, ultimately, boost profitability. The more transparency and visibility you have on your information, the better you can make decisions, create financial models and execute strategy.

Boosting business culture and working life

Through creating new levels of efficiency and reshaping how employees use their time, you’re also shifting the nature of employee responsibilities. The job description for a role can take on a new list of activities and assignments. Instead of being consumed by admin and ad hoc tasks, an employee’s job becomes more about how they can creatively use trends, reporting and forecasting to innovate. For example, this could take the form of assessing your financials against previous and current market conditions to offer ideas for any imaginative marketing or product strategies.

Moreover, 65% of jobseekers say work-life balance is the most important driver in picking an employer. The more oversight you have on your team’s performance, workload and client activity, the better you can manage their time, helping to prioritise tasks and set reasonable deadlines. Making people’s jobs easier with tech inevitably improves their work-life balance, with year-round processes reducing the chance of burnout. With a better work-life balance comes better morale and increased chances of attracting new talent.

More exciting job descriptions, a better work-life balance: it all serves to boost company culture and working life.

A new meaning to “how is it lunchtime already?”

The phrase “how is it lunchtime already?” may still ring around the office. But rather than lamenting about how admin tasks have gotten in the way, you’re thinking of even more advice you could’ve pulled from the insights you accessed from your data platform — luckily, the core admin is completed and ready to be used when needed. 

By making the digital transition, you can redefine how you use time, funnelling energy into value-adding activities that are also able to boost business culture and working life. Rather than being time-strapped on admin tasks, time-savvy tech can make your working hours centred on adding business value.