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Have you found yourself standing by the printer for the tenth time that day or just spent 20 minutes searching for a document on your computer?  Are you finding that you are wasting valuable time on everyday administration?  Don’t worry, you’re in the same boat as millions of professionals who can fritter away up to a day a week on slow admin processes. Just think what you could get done in that time, how you could grow your business. Granted, admin is a pretty dry subject to focus on, but get it right and you could save yourself those precious hours, find yourself going home on time instead of filing receipts.  Have a look at these 10 warning signs that your admin processes could be out of date and get yourself a smarter way of working.

1. Still printing reams of paper?

Not as essential as you might have previously thought.  Think twice as to whether you really need that extra piece of paper in your office.  Could it be stored in your virtual office?  Start thinking the clutter-free way and get yourself on a to a cloud-based system like Dropbox or Sharepoint to create some essential fuss-free filling.  For this process to work well, you need to be vigilant with online document filing and not to just store them in the first file that comes up.  Clear filing equals a clear mind.

2. Speed up scanning

Do you listen to that productive scanner whirring noise willing it to speed up?  Frustratingly, scanning a single document can take up to 5 minutes let alone the time taken locating it in the black hole of hidden scan folders.  Speed this up a notch by using an app.  Take a snap and you’re done.  Simple and speedy.  There are some decent free apps out there like Scanner Mini and even Dropbox has added a function that allows you to take a photo and store it directly to the cloud.  Ditch the old processes and start thinking smarter.

3. Face to face meetings a necessity?

Meeting room booked.  Tick.  Diary invites sent out.  Tick.  Coffees ordered.  Tick.  Outdated telephone sitting in the middle of the meeting room table.  Tick.  Untick.  Re-think this whole process and consider hosting your meeting via a web-based meeting service like Skype or GoToMeeting.  Expand the meeting premise that it needs to be face to face – you can still have face to face, just remotely via a screen.  Many of the conference services now include screen sharing which allows participants to really feel like they are in the “meeting room”.

4. Still keeping your expense receipts in an envelope?

There is no need to store away bundles of crushed receipts in your drawer.  With the birth of online cloud systems came online expense software.  Invaluable for the small business owner or the smart worker.  These systems along with expense apps, allow you to take a photo of your receipt, upload it and then throw away the hard copy – liberate those receipts, free up your drawer space, unburden your filing cabinet.

5. Searching for lost documents

Lost emails, lost documents, a misplaced contract.  An unhelpful search functionality.  All this can induce rage, stress and unhelpful language.  The matter of not being able to find something quickly can prove detrimental to business – if you can’t find that contract, how are you going to seal the deal.  

Solve this by using voice activation or tracking apps.  If you have voice activation on your computer, let it do all the hard work.  Reclaim valuable office time and reduce your workload.  Let technology take over.

6. Searching for passwords

With an average of 19 passwords per person, it is no wonder we have difficulty remembering them all.  Each password we create needs to be increasingly secure, getting longer and longer and more complex in its creation – a hashtag, a number, a capital letter.  How are you expected to remember all of this?  The temptation is to store them all in one place on an unsecured document which can be easily found by cyber hackers.  Take this lack of security away and use a password keeper.  Most modern browsers (like Chrome for example) have password keepers.  You can also download tools that can save and suggest new passwords with complex, unbreakable codes.  This is an absolute must in the cyber world we live in.

7. Need a signature from your boss?

Your initial process would be to go and see your boss and get their signature on the printed paper in question.  What if they are away, or you work remotely?  Take the smart route and upload an image of their signature.  Then, once they have approved the use of their signature, add the image to the page and you are done.  Signed, sealed and delivered – paper-free and efficient.

8. Losing track of sales emails?

Think about using a Customer Relation Management system.  A CRM system helps you keep your customer’s contact details up to date, track every interaction they have with your business, and manage their accounts. It’s designed to help you, improve your customer relationships, and in turn, customer lifetime value.  Your company can create vast quantities of data every day.  But where does it go?  Simplify life and use a CRM to turn this data into a useful, actionable insight that can transform your business.

9. Unclogging your inbox

On average, you can receive 80 emails a day.  Most of them actionable, some of them unnecessary cc’s and a few fun ones about your next night out.  How do you wade through this email influx without losing sight of the end game – getting your work done?  Start organising your inbox, or better still change your thinking about how email inboxes work.  Gmail has a functionality called Inbox; they have taken the way we regard our inbox and flipped it on its head – pooling emails and treating the process as a task-focused management tool.  You can “snooze” emails for a further date and time. Or, if the email is something you need to do at a specific location, you can ask Inbox to remind you about that message when you're at a specific location.  If you are the person who likes to mark a message as unread, to read it at a later date, you would benefit from a Smart Skin like Sortd (which works with Gmail).  The skin lives over your inbox and allows you to expand your inbox into lists and columns for clear thinking and faster auctioning.  Considering we spend a large part of our day looking at our inbox, step out of the box and make it work for you.

10. Social media

This is not an outdated admin process as such but the way you are using it maybe.  Do you only use social media to chat with your friends or post photos of your holiday?  Harness the usability and the vast number of contacts you can reach by using the many social platforms available for your business.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – if you use just one of these, you can widen your marketing catchment immeasurably. For instance, Facebook has 1.86 billion users and LinkedIn has 500 million.  Not all platforms work for each business, so find the one that will benefit you and your customers most and use it well.  Blogs and images are an easy way to grab attention but don’t just blog for blog's sake.  Ensure you provide quality over quantity.  Let’s face it, social media is not going away so re-think how you use Facebook or Instagram and open your business to the world.

So in conclusion, have any of the warning signs ignited a lightbulb?  Do you feel that some of the processes you use can be updated?  You may have even found other outdated ways that you work just by enhancing one of the above processes.  It’s important to remember that realising the problem is the first step.  Actioning this can take you out of your comfort zone, but in the long run, you will gain back an extra day of the week.  Go and enjoy that day; grow your business, have a lunch break, spend time on social media.  Whatever you do with your new-found hours, remember that embracing change was all it took.

Victoria Waine

 

Victoria Waine, SmartPA Partner

Victoria has worked for several large corporations, assisting senior level executives, as well as supporting small and medium enterprises and start-ups, promoting brand awareness and facilitating growth of the business. She has extensive knowledge in project management, corporate event production, logistics, administrative support and business development. This will ensure that all SmartPA clients supported by her benefit from a first-class service.