Time saving office software and procedures.
Working from home can have challenges for women as they are often time poor, so finding time saving office software and procedures is a really smart way to save time and can be a life changer for busy women who need to increase their productivity without increasing the amount of time they work.
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer
I use a bookkeeper now which saves me days every month entering data and reconciling for BASS statements. In previous businesses I managed my own accounts often spending night time doing the data entry which may be an option if you are just starting out or only have a small concern, but no matter which way you go you will need an easy to use accounting software package.
Accounting software options
An easy to use Accounting software is another time saving procedure that is essential for all business. Years ago I had a desktop software version but today the benefits of having the online version outweigh the use of stand alone programs.
The online programs costs less, payments are made monthly instead of the large outlay for the initial cost of the program and they have much better security, as it’s harder for hackers to penetrate the programs. The files are automatically updated and backed up on line so things won’t be lost when crashes happen. Multiple number of computers can also access the program, so you can access your accounts while you are on holidays or your bookkeeper and accountant can take a look without the need for discs and files being transferred.
The three major software programs are available, xero, quickbooks and myob.
Myob is the easiest to use, but has limited functions and doesn’t provide payroll files, which makes it less liked by professionals. The mobile app is simple with limited functions. At $35 for a single employee and $45 for multiple employees it is not cheap.
Xero appears to be the favourite of professionals, it is a complete package and very user friendly. The employee portal and auto-superannuation payment facility is its biggest advantage. Reconciliation is fast and easy. The mobile app is good and has multiple options and priced at $25 for a basic plan going to $60 a month for a full payroll, it is probably worth the charges for the amount of services offered.
Quickbooks is a little confusing when it comes to the design, although it does have excellent reporting, some tasks are not located in logical positions, but you can access the help videos or online training. The mobile app has great functions and the program is priced well at between $15-35 a month it is the cheapest of the 3 programs.
With so many different passwords for different websites, email, banking, and programs accounts we use, it is impossible to create unique passwords each time then remember them without writing them all down. A password manager is the answer as it generates complex passwords with random alphanumeric strings for you to use, automatically filling in the login details and keeps all the details safe in one place safe from hackers.
With at least three managers available, the most common used are LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password. I believe LastPass offers the best value, the program is free and includes free syncing and two-factor authentication to mobile phones.
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer
There are several project management software programs available to help you organise your teams with tasks and projects keeping them on time with tracking. You can also manage several different projects at the same time or break them down into categories or sections all within the same program.
There are several different project managers on the market that are free, they are all user friendly and have great user ratings. Trello, Monday.com, Asana all have free versions and good for small projects and businesses.
I have used the free version of Asana, which is a to-do list style board, it is very easy to use and easy to collaborate with others in the project. Trello appears to have a better user recommendation because it has a Kanban board style which visually shows the various stages of the project process.
Paid versions for bigger teams and projects are available, so if you think you might need a more comprehensive program you might also like to look at Basecamp or LiquidPlanner which both have good reviews too.
If time management is important it might be wise to look at Wrike which is a good quality project management tool which will help you tackle projects of various sizes.
Note taking apps
Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote seem to be the clear winners if you read the reviews, they both have free versions, but before you start read about each of the programs to work out which would be better for you.
I’ve used Evernote in my business for years to keep all the generic basic information on my business, I have notes on different suppliers, contacts I have met and may use as well as the companies we use and alternative companies we could use for various things. I must admit I love the search function, I have so much different information in my Evernote that the search function is essential for me to find things.
OneNote gives you the option making it feel more like a paper not book, you can choose different backgrounds like textured paper lined paper pages, it has a binder feel with sections and tabs for organising different things. You can draw notes, use a digital highlighter and drag and drop images onto pages.
I like to keep my personal and business things separate, so think I will keep Evernote for my business and also use OneNote for my personal notes as I will enjoy being creative with the look of the program.
If you are a book reader, a talking book app can be a huge time saver especially when it comes to utilizing traveling time.
Audible is an Amazon company, they appear to be the clear winner when it comes to reviews, they have over 200,000 audiobooks in their library and more original content than any other company. Audible will cost you about $150aud a year for 3 books a month with special offers given to you some weeks.
“For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” – Benjamin Franklin
Customer Relationship Management / CRM’s
One of the best ways to utilize your time when you are running a business is by using a good CRM, one that can do everything for you.
A good CRM can automate your processes, as it manages what you have done, it shows you your performance with a visual sales funnel, it will provide you with a daily to-do list of clients to catch up with, that helps you connect with past, current and potential future customers. It keeps people remembering you and coming back to you by easily marketing special offers to clients with emails and information newsletters, then the CRM records this against the company details.
CRM’s can be extremely complicated and need to be set up by professionals who understand both your business and the program. Before you start I recommend you spend some time thinking about how you want things to be recorded and what you actually need. It is possible for you can start it yourself but as time goes on and your needs grow you will probably need help connecting all the elements that are available to you.
I have used Salesforce, I didn’t set the Salesforce system up and had no control or say in how it operated, so was never happy with it. Salesforce is also expensive.
I currently use Zoho for my CRM. I must admit I love the Zoho program. When I changed to Zoho I initially set it up myself but I didn’t have all the links working properly so I have spent a considerable amount money employing a specialist to fix it up and get it working more efficiently, which I highly recommend you do too.
When it comes to setting up your CRM, it will become your main business tool. Please spend time considering all your options and needs, so you understand what it is you need it to do and what you want recorded against each client. The cost between all the different programs can also be great, it’s wise to factor in getting someone to set it up for you, so you get all the benefits of having such an amazing tool.
“It is not enough to be busy ….. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
VA’s are a great way of outsourcing the basic repetitive daily jobs that don’t need instruction. You can employ a local VA if you feel you need to see this person but it will cost you the going rate in Australia. Employing a VA from somewhere else in the world could be a better financial decision and save you quite a bit of money, especially a VA from the Philippians, this a very cost effective way of being productive. A Philippine VA will cost you somewhere between $6-$14 an hour or $500-$700 a month for full time work. You will need to negotiate this rate with your VA prior to them starting.
People from the Philippine’s are generally well educated and have good English as it is a core subject at school. A lot of Philippine VA’s have experience working for foreign companies so will be aware of your expectations, but you will need to vet them carefully first. There are companies who will organise your VA for you and they either take an introduction fee or will charge you a much higher hourly fee for your VA and they will pay the VA directly at a lower rate.
Plan and Preparation of your day.
Before I finish my day in the office and leave for the day, I write down my to-do list for the following day, at that stage I’m still on top of all the things that didn’t get done that day that needs to get done the following day and other things that need to start, so it is the perfect time to focus on what needs to be done. When I enter the office the following day reading the to-do list can also prompt me adding more things. It is my to-do list that keeps me on top of being productive.
Looking at your to-do lists and previous lists can give you inspiration as it is a good indications of where you could save time and automate daily jobs. Taking the time to develop and fine tune a new procedure or a new software package can feel like a hike up a hill. Once you’ve done it, I am sure you can find a good use for the extra time. Go for it!