Thought Leaders: What is Your #1 Tip to Optimize Business Processes?
Optimizing business processes optimization takes the stress, uncertainty and inefficiency out of everyday practices at your company. Ask yourself the question: how efficiently does your company do business? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to managing records and keeping track of invoices?
We had the chance to chat with nine thought leaders to get their perspective on the question: “What is your #1 tip to optimize business processes?”
Automate A/P Processes
“Our company’s biggest accounts payable problem was completing transactions less than $100. We had hundreds of them per month that required a significant amount of attention and effort. Quantity and volume was always an issue. In our business, we prioritized the larger accounts first. As I am sure you could understand, another business that is waiting for a $25,000 cheque should have priority over something of far lesser value.
What we ended up doing was to automate many of those AP processes for small amounts. Many of these small transactions were on a scheduled basis with very trustworthy clients and business partners. We decided that automation was the best solution to dealing with the plethora of transactions. We now take a managerial and oversight position to ensure all transactions were completed in a proper fashion.”
– Pierre Tremblay, CFO of Dupray
Embrace New A/P Technology
“Optimization begins with identifying organizational process maturity and determining the best next steps to begin progressing. For example, if an organization is still using manual data entry, the next logical step is to digitize processes, moving away from outdated processes that are limiting organizational growth potential. Digitization offers the finance department more visibility into daily occurrences, seamlessly across various systems of records that operate a variety of processes.
Optimize processes and embrace new A/P technology to:
- Improve cash flow and increase overall cost savings
- Shorten payment cycle to vendors to achieve discounts and avoid penalties
- Gain invoice transparency to provide insight into financial processes and potential risks
- Eliminate manual data entry that is inefficient, error-prone and distracts employees from tasks that offer more business value, which can be used to drive present and future successes
- Eliminate paper-based processes to reduce office and storage space and aid the environment.”
– Brian Shannon, CSO, Dolphin
Leverage Outsourcing to Handle Redundant, Ongoing Work
“Every business should consider their outsourcing options. There is a global supply of skilled talent, ranging from low cost freelancers to enterprise level providers that can handle any redundant, ongoing work. Besides just lowering costs, outsourcing allows you to save time so you can focus on your core business. Meaning, your team does what it does best.”
– Dimitri Zakharov, Founder & CEO of Impact Enterprises
Be Modular – Invest and Connect Multiple Solutions
“A general principle which we’ve found to be true and effective especially in the last couple of years is that it pays to be modular and not adopt a monolithic approach in solving the document management problem. By that I mean that instead of buying a single package and try to cram all necessary features in it you should buy multiple solutions and connect them together.
The benefits are that for each challenge you get a best of breed, specialized solution (instead of a one-size-fits-all approach). That way you can also replace it with a better one when you outgrow it or if you find it doesn’t suit you after all. Also, usually price-wise the cost is lower for subscribing to the individual components vs buying a custom bundled solution.”
– Dimitris Athanasiadis, Online Marketing Manager, Megaventory
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
“We train our employees to not be afraid of asking questions. You cannot improve a process if your team is afraid to ask questions and the reality is that from the moment your people entered grade school they were trained to give answers not to ask questions. Questions identify gaps you are missing and by making it a game to solve it removes much of the stigma and fear associated with ‘questioning authority’.
The implementation is very simple. When we are doing process evaluations we will say “OK, let’s do the question game on this.” The goal is to get as many questions down as possible over a period of five to ten minutes. Then we group the questions before we begin to answer them. It is the single-most effective tool we have for optimizing our business processes.”
– Karolyn Hart, COO, InspireHUB
Profit from Effective A/P Management
“A/P management can be a profit center! A/Rs can be strategically managed at low internal costs by use of available techniques designed to reduce a seller’s receivables investment. Such reduction enables positive cash flow so that negotiating more favorable payable terms can be negotiated. Use of procedures gleaning A/R acceleration creates a winning cycle for A/P dealing which in turn generates more bottom line profits.”
– Jim Herst, CEO, Perceptive Selling Initiative
Stop Relying on Manual Processes
“It’s 2016: we have the internet at our fingertips, computers are being taught how to think and cars are learning how to drive themselves. Yet there are businesses that insist – either outright, or by neglect – on the backbone of their operations to be centered on manual processes. Think monkeys at a keyboard – it’s 2016, but plenty of these companies employ anywhere from a few to hundreds of people to manually enter data when there are automated data integration products and services available for their use.
My number 1 tip is all businesses should approach their data and applications with strategy and a plan for growth, and to adopt data integration best practices. It won’t be long before the days of manual data entry are behind us and obsolete, just like the rotary phone.”
– Jessica Thiele, Marketing Manager, Virtual Logistics
Interview Top Performers
“Often top performers also have better processes than under-performers. And that is where your opportunity lies. Interview the three or four top performers. Record the session with video or use an online meeting resource with a recording option. Transcribe the interview session (or outsource that to a transcription service). And then analyze the steps and prepare a best practices manual or checklist. Then test the under-performers with the new manual/checklist to confirm your new process generates increased results.
Just increasing your sales conversion or reducing transaction or production processing time by 10 to 20 percent, due to a key process improvement, could drive a similar increase in sales or profits. And you can do it all on your own…without shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a business consultant.”
– Mike McRitchie, Business Strategist, Critical Path Action
“In my first business, I learned the importance of an efficient A/P system the hard way. I was constantly chasing money – I even had some customers that were loyal for years, but consistently late on paying for their services by 90 days or more. In my new company, we apply optimization practices to all areas of the company.
When it comes to A/P and billing, we design our services and contracts around the idea of not chasing money. We automate billing to our customers and make payment as convenient as possible by providing online payment links right in our invoices. This results in customers paying on time much more often and, when they don’t, our system automatically reminds them and updates them on late charges. Applying late charges is something I didn’t do much of in my first company, but we do it now, and show it to customers because it’s another motivator to pay on time even if it’s just a couple dollars late fees. Staying on top of customers, and managing your billing and A/P tasks actively, and through automation is definitely the way to keep your cash flow healthy and your business headed in the right direction.”
– Garrett Collins, Owner, NuuSEO
Discover how Octacom can help transform your business processes. Please call 905.737.0700 / 1.888.739.1934 or email us today.