Buying and selling accounting practices – as I have done a few times over my career – gives great insight into how other businesses do things, and how much time they waste! Redundant and outmoded administrative systems not only waste time, they’re really costly so avoiding these mistakes will provide big wins for your business.
Here are the top five biggest time wasters I’ve seen over my career.
1. Using email for internal communication and tasks
For goodness sakes, just stop!
I don’t know about everyone else but the number of emails I get each day is overwhelming. Important information and actions are very easily lost when a business uses email systems to record everything but SuiteFiles keeps you on track. It’s simple – save an actionable email in SuiteFiles then create a task from that, delegating it to yourself or a team member. This doesn’t just apply to client emails, you can use this feature for internal administration activities that need to be completed. Some examples in our practice were multiple client lodgment emails and tax department reminders.
2. Making hand-written client notes
I’ll be brutally honest here – I was a shocker for making notes on anything to hand whether it was a sticky note or a napkin while taking a client call on my lunch break. This often meant important information went missing and things didn’t get done. Using SuiteFiles, I could open a new document in the client file, make the necessary notes and, from there, create a task. Things were no longer lost and I had a reminder to get things done.
3. Printing and scanning
There are so many options for electronic workpapers in a modern office that there should be very little need to print workpapers, complete with a pen, and then scan back into the client file. SuiteFiles allows you to save your workpapers into the client file in many different formats, and it also lets you create your own workpaper templates if you prefer.
4. Sending documents by snail mail for signing
This wastes a ridiculous amount of time. Documents have to be printed (usually in duplicate), put in an envelope, and taken to a post box. The documents then take between five and seven days, sometimes longer, to reach the client, then at least another five to seven days to get back to you. Then it’s necessary to scan these signed documents into SuiteFiles and securely shred the originals. This is not only a waste of time, it’s also costly, especially if your invoice is included in the mail out. SuiteFiles allows you to send documents for digital signing from within the app itself. It takes five minutes, the client instantly gets the document so they can review and sign, and you receive the notification as soon as it’s all done.
The onboarding process is essential for both clients and employees. While it’s usually necessary to have a face-to-face appointment with clients to establish a personal connection, posting hard-copy documents for completion is a waste of time. Regulatory bodies, like the Tax Practitioners Board in Australia, require clients to sight an engagement letter at the very least but best practice is to ensure an engagement letter is signed. This can all be integrated into a client onboarding template that can be shared electronically with clients through SuiteFiles.
Online onboarding for new staff is now essential. Emailing employees contracts as Word documents for printing and signing as well as policies and procedures to sign off on – all of which then need to be scanned and shredded – is redundant. For starters, who sends a contract in a Word document 🙄. SuiteFiles can be used for employee onboarding by again setting up templates and a secure portal.
For me, some of the biggest time wasters are those that use snail mail, printing, and scanning. While accounting practices will probably never be totally paper free, they should definitely be substantially paperless. Emails also waste a lot of time, so it’s important for accounting practices to transition to different ways of communicating internally and externally for efficiency and future proofing. Millennials and Gen Z tend to avoid emails, so it’s best to get on the front foot now before it’s their turn to take over!
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