Four steps to streamlining office systems for success

When something goes wrong in business – a balance sheet falls short; a client complains; an opportunity is lost – it’s almost always due to a system breakdown.

Whether that be a breakdown in communication, in technology – or the way people communicate with technology (just ask the IT guy).

When it comes to managing and growing your business, streamlining systems in the workplace is essential for the efficiency and productivity of your team, client satisfaction, and the overall success of your business.

Forbes highlights the importance of thinking about and understanding systems in business, particularly in times of change or growth.

“Often business owners think about how to delegate responsibilities, improve leadership skills, and gain financing to allow for growth,” Forbes says.

“While these are important aspects to building a healthy business, one topic that can be overlooked is creating systems in order to achieve growth.”

Here are four steps business owners and managers can take to streamline office systems for success.

Undertake a system stocktake

While it may sound simple, many business owners and managers are not aware of the office systems they use, adhere to, or are bound by, in their businesses.

This may be because clear systems were never put in place in the first instance; because other people in the business have taken control of making system decisions; or because business systems have simply evolved over time.

With every new staff member, HR manager, IT provider, or CEO, the systems used in a business may change or shift slightly, which is why it’s important to ensure management takes the time to review these systems periodically.

A great way to do this is to invite key managers or team leaders to partake in a “system stocktake”, where you can extract information about each of the essential systems used, why you use them, how you use them, to gain an understanding for any systems that might be missing from your office workflow.

“Take note on everything from how files are saved to how big decisions are made,” Forbes says.

“If there are other people working in the business with you, have those people also keep close records of how they manage tasks.”

These could be office systems relating to billing, client briefing or proposals, project management, team management, time tracking, client engagement, or technology.

Identify system challenges and opportunities 

Once you have established a list of systems your team and office use, run through them with your team to identify any key pain points, needs, or opportunities.

For example, if your project management system is letting your team (or your clients) down – whether that be your communication workflows or the software you use – ask your team why it’s not working.

Ask them how they feel the problem could be overcome, what might be missing from the system, and what opportunities could arise for the team, your clients (and ultimately for your business) by fixing it.

Once you have a solid wish-list of needs and priorities for each system, you’ll be in a better position to decide which systems you should change, update, or implement to streamline your office and business for success.

Plan and implement processes

Once you have identified your systems and what you want from them you can go about planning a system that will suit your needs.

In an article for Forbes, digital entrepreneur Neil Patel says that a system is essentially a “sophisticated process” and once you have identified what you need to systematise you can start planning.

“You must plan exactly what this process is going to look like,” he says.

“A well-defined process solves your issue in a sequential way. I recommend that you write down the process by enumerating each of the steps.

“In some cases, you will want to outsource some or all of the process.”

When it comes to outsourcing, there are a number of technologies and software systems available that will allow you to streamline workflows for greater efficiency.

From email systems, to task management software, platforms that track and sort numbers, and tools that crunch big data, there are a number of software platforms you can use to digitise your systems.

Consolidate your technology

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are your employees’ desktops are full of a number of different software apps, from Outlook and Gmail; to XPLAN, Yodlee and MYOB.

The problem is, many of these systems are siloed and don’t speak to each other.

The answer? Consolidate your software to streamline your systems.

There are a number of programs, platforms and software systems available that will allow you to do this and it’s worth spending time going through your list of existing systems (and software) and cross checking them with platforms that either do it all, or can bring everything together in the one place.

For large teams, there are a number of project management tools that can take teams off of email and onto platforms that provide smoother workflows, including Slack and Trello.

Social media marketing tools such as Hootsuite, and Sprout Social have also saved thousands of hours for marketers everywhere by bringing social platforms together in the one, easy to manage, place.

If you’re in the business of accounting or financial advisory you can consolidate a number of key software systems through Xeppo – a software consolidation system that connects everything from APS to Xero.

Xeppo offers project management and marketing apps that can bring office management, sales management, client management and big data together in to the one simple to use platform.

In an article by Shane Reid at Umlaut IT, he describes Xeppo as a “clever piece of software” that has the power to influence the way the finance industry and its clients do business.

“Xeppo allows you to engage with your entire business through a single, centralised, searchable platform,” he says.

“It connects, integrates and secures your data, then makes it all accessible via a user-friendly dashboard.

“By restructuring the way we share, access, view and analyse data, Xeppo is catalysing the evolution of “client-centric” business models. This fresh approach integrates tools, software and encourages collaboration to take user-led business models to the next level.”

So, if you’re looking to streamline your systems – gather your team, put together a wish-list, do your research and get planning with the right software!

To find out how Xeppo can consolidate your key accounting or financial advisory software systems see the full list of current connectors at Xeppo.