By Sanjay Parekh, Managing Director at WebExpenses

Having the right systems and processes in place is crucial to the success of any growing business - but in the early days small business managers often respond to the array of new tasks or challenges they are faced with on an adhoc basis, to ‘get the job done’.

As a business grows skills and time constraints become stretched and manual processes start consuming valuable time and resources. Increased formal financial legislation can detract owners and management from running and growing the business and it becomes impossible to personally keep track of every pound going in and out.

There comes a point when the value of time and skills being spent on day to day administration outweighs the cost of putting real systems in place. But how can you tell you have outgrown your systems? And what are the most important processes to implement to avoid a crisis?

MANUAL PROCESSING BECOMES UNMANAGEABLE: If your business still relies on manual processes to complete routine transactions, as your business grows inevitably transaction numbers increase it will quickly become apparent that more robust systems will need to be implemented. Business managers and staff will become aware of the gaps.

THE FIGURES DON’T ADD UP: A lack of integration between different areas of the business can become problematic as a business grows. Many start-ups create separate systems or processes for invoicing, expenses, wages etc, often just separate excel spreadsheets, and this lack of integration creates problems when the numbers stop adding up.

YOU START TO DROP THE BALL: There comes a time with any business owner where they can no longer have visibility of everything that’s going in their business.

YOUR SYSTEMS ARE PREVENTING BUSINESS GROWTH: Your business growth is gaining real momentum, you’re looking to take on new staff or increase sites, services or product ranges, but your staff tell you it’s not possible with your existing finance systems and IT infrastructure.

STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH LEGISLATION AND POLICY IMPLEMENTATION: As legislative demands increase, not least with the introduction of the Anti-Bribery Act 2011, and the continuing focus on clear expenses and benefits management from HMRC, policy and legislation can be a daunting experience. You may start to find that being overwhelmed by the increasing levels of legislation that your business needs to comply with and having problems providing the correct information for HMRC audit purposes is putting you at risk of penalty fines.

The Solutions:

Modern cloud-computing software empowers businesses to manage and implement powerful, integrated business processes at the click of a mouse. It allows small firms with limited budgets to create strong, scalable systems without being restricted by size or cost.

It is prohibitively expensive for small, in-house teams to monitor, record and manage increasing transactions in fast growing businesses. Outsourcing to software-as-a-service (SaaS) models reduces an organisation’s dependency on employees, by offloading the number-crunching and data storage into the cloud.

IT AUTOMATION: The key role of SaaS in business is to drive efficiency and increase productivity. If you’re still relying on manual processes for day-to-day tasks business and accounting software will help you to streamline and automate these processes, eliminating gaps and freeing up staff to focus on driving business growth.

MULTI-USER ACCESS: As transaction numbers, staff numbers and complexities in the business grow adopting multi-user systems that allow simultaneous data input can be important to maintain business momentum.

INTEGRATION: As your business grows and formal systems are implemented, it is important to remember new software, technologies and solutions need to integrate with existing systems. This is especially important where accounting and finance systems are involved, to ensure visibility and accuracy across the entire business and highlight inefficiencies.

SCALABILITY AND ADAPTABILITY: In order to grow you need strong, flexible business processes in place. You need easily scalable solutions that can grow and adapt with you. Whether it’s growing from a single site, to a multi-site business, adding large numbers of new staff or supporting new currencies these changes need to possible with the click of a mouse.

BUILT IN AUDITING AND CONTROLS: As businesses grow they need to implement systems that allow for instant and immediate auditing of the data they hold. All systems that manage data in your business should have the capabilities to offer insight.

COMPLIANCE AND CONTROL: Increased automation removes human subjectivity from processes; it makes all systems fair and transparent and can ensure you are automatically fulfilling the criteria of a growing array of business legislation as well as your own business policy guidelines. It also allows you to monitor and control your expense spend, right down to the last mile.

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