Robust technologies can deliver significant admin time savings and boost the competitiveness of your business
Spending time on admin is a fact of life for any business employee, but according to a recent report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), multiplying regulations and their increasing complexity are resulting in UK small business owners spending as much as 33 hours a month on business administration. Furthermore, a survey by the SME website Real Business revealed that a quarter of business owners were taking admin tasks home to complete.
Too much time spent working in the business means not enough time spent working on it, and over half the businesses FSB surveyed identified administrative burdens as a major threat to growth. Yet there is a growing range of technologies and resources that businesses can exploit to streamline their admin tasks and make significant time savings.
Improve efficiency through process automation
By using software to automate their administrative processes, businesses can drastically reduce the time and effort spent on them. Consider form-filling, which is a particular bugbear for many businesses. You can now use software that will store any type of form - expenses, time sheets, surveys etc. - in a globally accessible place such as a company intranet. It can then be accessed and completed via a browser and digitally signed, then automatically forwarded to the next stage in the process. The data contained in the form can be shared between functions, eliminating the need for re-keying and the risk of error.
However, it's typical for each business function to rely on its own software and its own data. This creates silos, making process automation impossible. To overcome the problem, businesses are turning to enterprise application integration, which bridges the gaps between different programs. Data can then flow from one program to another, with a common interface to manage it. Key benefits include:
- A single point of access to data that is complete and up-to-date
- Streamlining of processes that rely on data and activity from multiple applications
- Information and functionality of several applications combined into a single, user-friendly interface
- Increased agility and big admin time savings.
Use apps to boost productivity
Apps can turn your smartphone or tablet into a useful tool for completing almost any task, within the technical limitations of your device. There has been an explosion in apps for business - the leading marketplace GetApp has over 6,000 listed, covering every business function from CRM and marketing to finance and project management.
Apps allow you and your team to work anytime from anywhere. You don't have to wait to get back to the office to get tasks done. You can use your commute to tackle your admin or tick off tasks in between meetings. Apps also streamline the tasks they perform by automating them. For example, by using an accounting app, you could autofill invoices, automatically send reminders for late payments or set up recurring invoices. The best apps are designed with the user in mind, meaning they are simple, intuitive and need little or no training to use.
Collaboration among teams, departments and with external partners significantly reduces your administrative burden by making it easier to match tasks to skillsets, pool expertise and work together to solve problems. Collaboration software helps you build a more social culture, where people look to co-operate rather than compete. It is no surprise then that social media giant Facebook has launched its own enterprise and communication network, Facebook At Work. The product features a Work Feed function where colleagues can post to exchange ideas and undertake tasks. They can also use the Groups feature to form virtual teams and Messenger to communicate easily via live audio and video.
Businesses are making further admin time savings by taking advantage of cloud services to more easily and effectively collaborate with third-parties. Through the cloud, they can grant secure access and full visibility into certain business functions and data. This allows them to outsource time-consuming activities to specialist services, such as IT management, credit control and customer care.
Tech-savvy SMEs are making huge admin time savings with these technologies, as well as improving their competitiveness. No longer tied up in red tape, business leaders are better able to dedicate more resources to developing and expanding their business.
- Multiplying regulations are increasing the administrative burden on UK SMEs.
- Business leaders may be spending too much time on admin at the cost of developing their business.
- There is a growing number of technologies available that delivers significant admin time savings.
- Apps, process automation and collaboration technologies all boost productivity, improve efficiency and reduce time-consuming repetitive tasks.
- Cloud technologies make admin outsourcing easier.
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