We are in the process of setting our budgets for this year and my mind instantly flipped back to this time last year. No–one could have foreseen the year that was about to descend upon us. The three-week lockdown from 23rd March 2020 feels like a distant memory. I am writing this now from my fully operational home office that I didn’t have a year ago. I left the office on the afternoon of 23rd March to not return for over 6 months and even that was for just a day. As the virtual finance director, I had the ability to leave the office, go home, plug in, and pick up where I left off.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for many businesses. The reliance on server-based technology and a love of paper-based processes left many businesses struggling to keep pace during the pandemic. If you can relate to this, what has changed over the last 12 months?
One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is the that technological solutions to come to the forefront of the agenda for businesses. Moving away from manual processes that worked never were high on the priority list. If you look at the example of invoice approval as a paper vs. automated process this really tells a story. Pre COVID-19 it was perfectly reasonable to receive paper copied of your invoices in the post, leave on 2 or3 people’s desks for approval and the input into the system. The paper copy would have been filed away for a potential VAT review or if you needed a copy to show as proof for payments. Fast forward to March 2020, paper was stacking up in the office, you couldn’t access anyone for paper approval and all the files were sat gathering dust in the office. How do you get around this?
A technology solution for invoice approval means no paper, invoices are electronically received, approved in system, and automatically pulled into the finance system. This at least halves the time the process takes but also automates the process and removes the manual entry. This may not seem like a big part of your business but when you extrapolate this across all your processes and think about the bigger picture, how could this benefit your business?
A technological transformation isn’t something that happens overnight and can often feel painful. The pandemic gave several businesses the push it needed to look at technology, but as we approach the one-year mark of the first lockdown now is still a good time to review your ‘new’ solution.
Are your thriving or just surviving?
If you haven’t fully embraced technology and have just bolted it on as a clunky after thought it will never feel comfortable, a bit like wearing someone else’s shoes. Technology can be a perfectly bespoke solution just for you and your business, becoming a seamless integration that works for you and not the other way around.
It’s certainly not, or it shouldn’t be, a one size fits all scenario as, let’s be honest, in reality one size fits all really means that it actually isn’t perfect for anyone. Technology can release your key people to concentrate on growing your business not working on process.
One of the most used phrases over the past 12 months has been “you’re on mute!!”. I use Microsoft teams every day now to keep in touch with my team, and our clients. Technology can solve a lot of problems but there will be times that it can’t replace face to face interaction. What technology can do however is streamline your business, automate your processes and ultimately help to transform your day-to-day work life.
For further information, or if you have any questions, please contact Lauren Mcllroy or your usual AAB contact.