In Pursuit of Profit
Read our expert article below or sign up to get articles sent to your inbox.
It typically takes age and perspective to appreciate the true value of time and reorient ourselves to using our time more wisely.
In business, time measures efficiency, productivity, and the amount of human capital needed to operate a business. There seems to be a never-ending quest to find that next tool which will save and costs. From optimizing workflows, to new software solutions, and now how AI can be implemented, businesses are trying to free up time by removing mundane tasks from the workload. These tools aren’t really “time savers,” but instead seek to shift how time can be spent toward higher skill tasks that can add more value to the bottom line.
As businesses look to cut costs and streamline their operations, one area has often escaped the scrutiny it deserves - the time cost of meetings.
As a fan of Star Trek, one thing I like to ponder about is the concept of time dimensions. Can you be in two points of time at the same time? For many people, living in a pandemic has made the sensation of time change. Things have simultaneously seemed like they happened long ago and also only yesterday. And, at one point or another we have all thought, “It seems like it was years since I saw you. Wait, it has been years!” But time has more than just social implications. The concept of time is relevant to you professionally as well, especially as an accounting manager or a member of an accounting team.
To have an effective accounting and finance team, an individual’s time view preference must match their job responsibility. If it is not, your accounting operations may suffer, and your company may experience unnecessary attrition. What do I mean?
Does your company have the monotonous “Monday morning meeting?” that employees dread all weekend because it never results in anything productive?
Even if it doesn’t, chances are there are still some meetings that leave employees asking themselves, “Why did I even bother preparing for that?” or “Why did I have to be there?” or “Couldn’t that have been an email?”
This is a problem because disorganized, distracted, and downright pointless meetings are more than just an annoyance. According to the Harvard Business Review, wasteful meetings result in:
The last decade has ushered in a digital revolution across all business areas. However, many businesses are still dragging their feet when it comes to automating their accounting and finance activities. In fact, 58% of finance teams surveyed indicated that they do not feel their finance back office is “sufficiently automated.”
Despite a plethora of tools and platforms available to help streamline these critical business areas, it seems many businesses are stuck in the past, relying on manual processes for their daily accounting functions. But organizations can use automation to drive profitability if they understand its benefits and can identify areas where AI will help them the most.
Don't wait around for "the right time" to improve your accounting functions! Now is the time to stop putting off the planning and cleanup work that always seems to get pushed to the backburner. Commit yourself to embracing a culture of continuous improvement – looking for places where you can overhaul whatever is broken and streamline areas that are not working optimally.
So, how do you identify where your accounting department needs to improve?
Ask your accounting team and any staff that deals directly with them where their pain points are and what they would prioritize fixing. By including both the team’s feedback and the rest of the organization’s perspective, you will get more balanced input on what kinds of changes should be prioritized.
Focus on operations, processes, and policies with the potential to have a big impact on either efficiency or accuracy. Possible areas to focus on include:
How many vacations should business owners take?
If you have to ask, you are not taking enough.
Americans are taking fewer (and shorter) vacations overall and this trend is magnified at the top of organizations. Business owners are less likely to take much needed vacation time than lower level staff, especially at small businesses and startups. In fact, only half of small business owners plan to take a vacation in the next year and of those, 26% will just take a few days off.