Want to know what beats good employees?
“A bad system will beat a good person every time” – W. Edwards Deming.
See, people come and go.
The best of us have ‘off days’ where we just can’t think straight and forget things.
We get sick and need to take a week off work.
But a system, once implemented, will continue to work whoever is operating it.
Now that’s not to say that systems and automation signal the end of a human workforce, because automation really isn’t the enemy.
But by not having systems in place, you could be leaving your practice vulnerable for 2 major reasons.
- If you try to scale your practice without strong systems at its foundations, then you’re making it more difficult than it’s already going to be.
- If you’re solely reliant upon your team members then you’ll be up a certain creek without a paddle if they unexpectedly choose to leave.
So we know that systems and automation are crucial for your accountancy practice’s success and operations.
But how do we know when to start automating a process.
Here are 7 tell-tale signs…
1. You’ve nailed your systems and processes
If you’ve got good systems in place and you have formed a clear process for how you want to do things, then it’s probably a good time to think about automating it if you can.
But BEFORE you do so, it’s crucial that the foundations of your practice are strong and stable.
And these foundations are built from the systems and processes you create.
As Bill Gates once said: “Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency” so only start when you’re confident your process works.
2. There are many repetitive processes
If you and your team have a process that requires you to do a process repeatedly then it’s worth considering automation
This could be anything from:
- Posting repeat content
- Sending appointment reminders
- Issuing repeat invoices to clients
- Onboarding tasks and processes
Putting it simply, if there’s a repeat process than requires very little brainpower – then why sit and do it yourself unless absolutely necessary?
3. Things can be inconsistent
Consistency is crucial, not just for accountancy practice owners… but any business owner at all.
Without consistency, your clients could be getting varied levels of service. And the quality of the work your team members produce can greatly vary.
So, if you’re noticing inconsistencies in results and client satisfaction then it could be a clear sign to automate a process.
Let’s consider an example.
Imagine you’ve planned an awesome onboarding process designed to WOW your new clients.
But some team members are missing out some of the crucial steps, leaving some clients amazed and others underwhelmed.
A great way to avoid this would be to use automation to create specific onboarding tasks for team members to complete whenever a new client joins (Asana, Glide and Zapier are great pieces of software for this – to read more on useful software check out this article here)
Automating these tasks reduces the risk of things getting forgotten and will leader to greater consistency in your results.
4. You’re short of time
“I just simply haven’t got the time Rudi!” is a phrase that I hear frequently when talking to practice owners.
And often, the people who say it are practice owners who are stuck wasting time on tasks they don’t need to be doing.
So if you’re short of time, ask yourself: “do I need to be doing this or can it be automated somehow?”
If it can, invest some time in sitting down and automating the process.
The more time you can free up through automation, the more time you will have to work on your business and moving forward.
5. There are a number of people involved
One indicator that you may need to automate a process is when numerous people are involved in it.
The more people involved in a particular project or process, the greater margin for error and risk of miscommunication.
So much like the example I used earlier for automating onboarding tasks, you can ensure that all team members are singing from the same hymn sheet if you use automation.
Another example would be email marketing.
By automating emails you avoid having to manually send emails to what could be hundreds of recipients every time they need them.
6. No transparency in the processes
If you don’t have transparency over a process, then systemising and automating can dramatically help.
If you are unsure about what stage things are at or what has/needs to be done then you need to do something about it.
The something could be numerous things, such as creating a clear project plan, using workflow software or automating the tasks.
By automating processes, you will be able to clearly identify and cover specific steps and you won’t have to worry about things not being completed or actioned.
For example, you could be experiencing an incredibly busy period in your practice and you have a diary full of client meetings.
If you have an automated appointment reminder process, you won’t have to worry about no shows or forgetting to send emails.
7. Employees aren’t happy
Repetitive and mundane tasks can be a real bore and drain of energy.
So if your team members are looking fed up and express a dislike for particular tasks that can be automated, then why not do so?
Not only will this free up the team member to do other, higher level tasks but it will also be far more likely to boost team morale.
And with increased morale and a better atmosphere comes increased practice productivity.
Automation isn’t the enemy
There is some degree of worry among accountants that Automation will result in the ruin of the workforce.
But it simply isn’t true.
Automation is useful to tackle all of the pain points outlined above, and serves to save you and your team time not replace them.
Automation will help you enhance your service, streamline your processes and ultimately create time for you and your team to deliver better client experiences and work on developing your practice for the better.
To get started, this article here will show you 3 key areas that automation will benefit your practice.