This week we’re happy to provide a guest blog courtesy of John Leishman, who is a self-professed IT geek who helps businesses use the cloud to save time and get more business. John grew his IT company from 1 location to 39 cities in 5 years, and has assisted more than 65,000 customers worldwide.
These days, it’s ridiculous to be drawn into the mire of email, hard drive space issues, and even paperwork. John’s got a tried and tested 5-step process for streamlining business and making it a ‘hyperefficient organisation’, and it can easily be applied to your accountancy firm.
1. Go Digital.
- Go paperless. The typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Using paper keeps costs high, and keeps things inefficient (remember the last time you wanted to find a file, and couldn’t?) For further thoughts read this IBM article on paper reduction.
- Sign contracts digitally. Xero has great add-ons like Right Signature and Practice Ignition, which allow management of signatures and the proposal process.
- Convert your fax line to fax-to-email.
- Invest in a high speed scanner (and use it regularly!).
- Capture and file receipts digitally with your smartphone’s camera. Xero and other cloud accounting solutions allow you and your clients to do this very easily. And use a system that allows digitisation of receipts.
- Reduce your need for a contracted shredding service. If you’re doing the steps above, you’ll likely have a lot less paper that needs to be shredded. You might even be able to keep that in-house!
ROI – Money Saved Per Employee Per Year = £3,000 – £7,500
2. Improve Systems Documentation
You cannot scale or grow quickly without effective documentation in place for new team members. While the old system was to type it all out in a Word document, that’s not necessary now with all the technology available.
Here are a few ways you can easily improve your systems documentation:
- Use short 3-5 minute videos on how to document every internal process in your firm, and share them on a private Youtube channel. This is NOT public, and no one will have access to it. You can even password-protect it if you prefer.
- Consider screen capture software. Our firm uses one that costs $40 per user. Our staff can simply talk out loud while doing their tasks and the audio and video is saved in a video format. It is a great way to get information out of employees heads and document in a very easy way without taking time to create manuals.
- Get the team to use their smart phones for videos documenting various practices. This can augment your written procedures, and new team members can use either video or written documentation, or both.
- Ensure that the training process (written and/or videos) can be easily understood and created by everyone in your firm. If everyone is doing it, it won’t take long at all.
ROI: Money Saved Per Employee Per Year =£350 – £3,000
3. Use Cloud-Based Services
Google Apps, Office 365, Sales Force, Infusionsoft, Xero, Web Based ERP systems such as OpenBravo – there are literally hundreds of these, and it is entirely possible that you could eliminate your internal IT infrastructure and go with hosted or custom solutions.
Remember, though, this takes planning and organisation. It’s absolutely worth it – see the benefits below – and depending on your firm size you could have it completely done within a month, or three months, or it might take up to a year. It just depends how quickly you work.
1 Reduced IT support costs and complexity. (Server and Workstation)
2 Time Savings – No need to Upgrade local applications/Server. Downtime.
3 Going green. On average, individual personal computers are only used at approximately 10 to 20 percent of their capacity.
4 Flexibility. Work from any web enabled device.
5 Easy Collaboration across multiple offices in multiple languages.
6 Cost effective integration of applications.
Money Saved Per Employee Per Year £175 – £650
4. Outsource Business Processes
Outsourcing has been spoken about for many years, and perhaps you even tried it with your firm and did not see success. There are still possibilities out there, and now more than ever these are cost effective and extremely powerful for the profitability of your firm.
Outsource non-strategic tasks. This gives you the flexibility to scale up or down as demand for your business fluctuates. For example, you could outsource your tax work, or even a certain specific element of that tax work, but keep your Tax Consultant in house.
Gain high expertise at low cost. You can find employees around the world that charge less for their services with the same experience and expertise. This is something our company has become expert in – we can find people with incredibly high levels of expertise who are less expensive because they work part time, or work in another country, or for other reasons.
Integrate outsourced staff. It is important that the outsourced staff are integrated into your company’s culture and communication system in order to get the best results. Organisational culture has been described as “how people behave when no one is looking.” When employees work remotely, it’s important that they all share the same culture and vision for the company.
Money Saved Per Employee Per Year = £7,500 – £40,000
5. Use and Encourage Telecommuting
Start with the right systems. In order for telecommuting to work for your firm it is very important that the right communication platform is put in place such as a VOIP system AND an internal chat system.
- The internal chat system will become your “watercooler” – as it has in my business. It will allow your team to create relationships, provide a social outlet and, most importantly, gives employees a place where they can seek help in completing tasks.
Get access to incredibly talented workers outside your office geography. For example, our company uses expats in low cost geographies such as Africa or Asia. You could hire a marketing manager, a tax specialist, a bookkeeper from anywhere in the world, and not even need to give them a desk.
Money Saved Per Employee Per Year = £3,000 – £12,500 /Employee per Year
As you can see, the biggest savings you’ll make from implementing one or all of these steps is in Labour Time of your team, either through increased efficiency or from outsourcing.
Total Cost Savings Per Employee Per Year (Averaged): Roughly £20,000 (US $32,000) by leveraging all 5 steps.