Integrating Sales Invoices and/or Sales Data Part 1: What is the problem?admin
Being a business owner myself, I can say hand on heart the most interesting thing about the business is what we sell and how it all works (other than the people that work with me of course). I would hazard a guess that most business owners would hopefully say the same thing. The main reason a business is often created is due to a strong belief in an idea or way of working that is better than what you have experienced in your career and a resulting desire to do it better, solving a problem or delivering a unique product/experience. To coin/butcher a Simon Sinek analogy, it all starts with “why”, but the detail then comes in the “how” and “what” your business does.
Now our business specialises in finance solutions and we are therefore duty-bound to profess the importance of this area, but it is clear and obvious the most important area of any business is getting sales through the door and understanding why and where you have been successful. Hopefully, so you can repeat a trick or translate that success into further opportunities. Everything is made easier when the sales part of a business looks after itself. The world is a brighter and sunnier place.
Businesses will often have a very thorough understanding of their sales mechanisms, funnels, and pipelines due to the critical nature of this area. It is usually easier to invest in this area as you can see a direct correlation between improving a sales process and getting revenue in through the door. But in many ways, this can create issues further down the line. The sales horse bolts out the door, new systems are procured, sometimes reporting and analytics built and then sometime later, your finance department starts to squeak as the volume of sales increases. Suddenly, they are reeling as the systems and processes introduced have not considered the back-office efficiencies now needed to prepare your accounts in a timely and accurate manner.
There are largely two solutions to this issue, the first is to hire more staff. The finance manager is often happy as they have a new colleague to train, and this reinforces their way of working. This is also probably the more expensive way of doing it as in the modern-day, you can get much more value out of people when they use technology to automate processing data. A computer is excellent in this regard as it tends not to care if it needs to process 1 or 1000 transactions and it will often be faster in doing so. But adding people will solve the issue and under good leadership, this can be the right option as there is a balance to strike between tech and human input.
The second solution will largely revolve around introducing systems and this presents its own challenges. If your business is getting to a certain size and operational systems/reporting is bedded in, the idea of changing this to suit your finance team will not go down very well. In this instance, you have a straight choice of finding an integrator or choosing a system that is already integrated to match the operational software you have chosen. If you are using more than 1 operational tool this can be tricky and if you find a finance system already integrated into all your operational systems and you like it, that would be pretty good fortune as it is not often the case.
The above is also based around a period of growth which is not the only circumstance this can become relevant. Many businesses have suffered in the last year due to COVID and have therefore stripped back. This can be a perfect time to reconsider your existing processes and rebuild for the future in a better way. We have seen this in quite a lot of instances recently where business owners have learnt some lessons and want to maximise the highs going forward. Growth and success can make us lethargic in maximising performance. The good times will come back so they are using the quieter time to prepare themselves and remove the bad habits, so they can hit the ground running.
I believe this moment in time in business is a key point to pause and consider all your options. What operational and finance systems in my business do I like? What can I change? What do I actually want to achieve to make things better for my business as a whole? These are all questions that should be asked. Be fussy and make sure you get the right solution involving the right level of people, automation, reporting output and integrations for the right price. It can be time-consuming especially alongside your day job but will pay for itself going forward.
In the following weeks, I will be discussing the solutions available on the market at the moment, as well as ways in which 4PointZero can help with this. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at www.4pointzero.co.uk.