At first glance, automation can sound scary and resource intensive. When you hear it, do you think of large production lines, with software-driven robots and machinery manufacturing and assembling complex products?
If so, cleanse those scary thoughts with this fact – automation can help even the smallest of operations save time and allow people to focus on things that actually add value. Below are 4 actionable tips you can use almost immediately.
Vendor payments – stop writing checks and start using ACH! It’s safer, faster, and provides more reliable cash flow. You know the exact day when cash will leave your account. Most banks that offer ACH payments also offer a way to automate this through a data upload. If you use accounting software of any kind to generate checks, you can likely run a report of your payments, export it to CSV (or similar data-only format), and upload it to your bank’s portal.
Nobody really enjoys printing and signing checks, let alone stuffing envelopes. Get started with ACH (and don’t forget credit card – see our prior article) today!
Your vendors want to know what invoices are paid, and will request remittance detail. If your accounting software or ERP doesn’t have a feature to automatically do this, don’t forget about this classic tool – mail merge!
Inventory counting – you don’t need to reach the level of sophistication of an Amazon distribution center, with robotic attendants moving pallets and counting products. A simple barcode scanner can do wonders. Many ERPs have printable barcode labels for use. If needed, buying a label printer and software program quickly recoup their investment for the amount of time and effort save.
Not to mention the other savings – quicker and more accurate cycle count and annual counts, fewer losses, and happier auditors. Nobody likes to make an auditor sad!
Excel macros – particularly for accounting and finance folks, a lot of time is spent in Excel. Think of repeated weekly and monthly reports with manual manipulations. By using the Record Macro function, you can record these repetitive steps to a macro. At any point in the future, you can simply run the recorded macro to repeat the steps.
Automating manual entry reduces non-value added time and improves quality and consistency. It also reduces boredom!
Embracing digital files – some people call this “paperless”, but truly, the intent is for quick and easy access to files. Scanning files for easy access takes some time investment up front, but pays dividends in the long-term. Better yet, try to skip the scanning phase and obtain/create files digitally to begin with. Don’t forget data security, since paper is prone to misplacement, environment hazard (fire, flood, etc.), and theft. Between offsite storage and cloud solutions, backing up digital files is efficient and cost-effective.
Unless you love digging in file cabinets, this is an easy one that can be applied to almost any part of a company!
There you have it – 4 ideas that businesses of any size can implement today!
Want assistance implementing these or other automation initiatives? Let me help! I offer free consultations and I’m available even on nights and weekends. Contact me directly at 262-297-3577.