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“Manual processes are inefficient and prone to error.”

This is a given – it appears word-for-word in virtually any book on efficiency or controls you care to mention – but the real question is “what does this mean for you”?

Should you always automate?  The answer is a qualified yes – think about the costs and benefits, and then use your judgement: you wouldn’t automate if:

  • The solution is too expensive in absolute terms, or
  • It costs more than the benefit it will produce, or
  • The implementation is large and risky enough that it could go wrong.

If you’re an optometrist, where all your business is done face-to-face, and you have only four or five sales in an eight-hour day, then it may well makes sense to keep using that manual receipt book that you can buy at Staples for $5.  (This is a real-life example).

If a lot more people come through your door for glasses, then yes, you may have to ditch the manual receipt book and invest in an e-commerce solution that automatically generates PDFs of your invoices.

Profit Breakthrough:
Ask yourself if your existing systems are holding you back.  Are you using a receipt book because your volumes are low, or are your volumes low because you record your sales on a manual receipt book?

The Cloud has put a lot of user-friendly, simple, computerised automation within easy financial reach of most businesses.  Existing programs have a good deal of “grunt” that comes standard at a reasonable prices – or you can pay more to get closer to Sharapova/ Williams levels.

Profit Breakthrough:
Pick the apps that “talk” automatically and easily to your GL package.  That’s not just the ease of upload – that’s making sure that your timesheet system collects the 20-odd labour categories in your GL package.

When you look at your existing processes, you’ll probably find that there’s an app for that.  That said, just because you can automate a process doesn’t mean you should.  Always keep one eye on the cost-benefit.