Armanino Blog

Building Basic Processes to Help Your Business Grow

by Ryan Prindiville
October 25, 2019

One of the most common mistakes we see small companies make is relying on cumbersome processes that waste time, money and energy that could be better devoted to helping the business grow or serving customers.

Too many small companies, especially in the early stages, carry out basic financial or HR tasks manually. All too often, we see busy leaders wasting time by, say, paying invoices using hand-written paper checks or their bank's bill-paying system. And entering that payment data into a spreadsheet or bill-tracking software manually.

Or they track income and expenses in spreadsheets and hope that their tax professional can sort it all out when tax season rolls around.

We also see companies using multiple credit cards and bank accounts to manage different expense categories or customers. You don't want to do this. Growing a small company is challenging enough when your credit and banking accounts are unified, let alone when someone is trying to juggle the statements and due dates of multiple accounts.

Relying on manual processes, or tracking business data in separate tools, hinders your business growth in several ways: First off, you're duplicating work. Second, entering data more than once increases the chances that you'll make a mistake, such as transposing two digits in an invoice or a payment.

Then the data in your different tools won't match, and you won't have an accurate picture of how your business is performing.

Managing these disparate processes often takes heroic efforts, usually from a company leader, a partner, or even a family member who's helping out. This may be fine for a short-term situation, but it's not sustainable — eventually the processes crash when the heroic performer burns out or fades away.

A Better Way

As a company reaches middle-market size, it becomes critical to identify processes that can be automated and to choose cloud-based financial management tools that add efficiency and help you understand how your business is performing.

(This identification of tools is a key opportunity for a CFO to make an impact beyond the finance function. Our CFO Evolution framework explains how transformational finance leaders can examine their company's processes and identify technology that improves operations and enables business growth.)

At a minimum, you'll need an accounting/enterprise resource planning (ERP) package designed for mid-market companies that will track and categorize income and expenses. Some ERP systems also offer basic reporting, planning and forecasting functions that help you understand how well your business is doing today and your opportunities. This information will, in turn, help you make better decisions that lead to growth and more efficient operations.

You'll also want a human resource information system (HRIS) that goes beyond wage and salary data to manage employee time off and integrate with your payroll and benefits providers. Given the complex mix of federal, state and local labor laws, payroll and employee management is an area you can't afford to get wrong.

If your business is sales driven, a customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help your team members see — on one screen — a unified view of every interaction your company has had with a customer or prospect. Centralizing this information lets you identify opportunities and resolve customer service issues quickly.

Investing in these core tools today supports your company's growth tomorrow, because better processes and information lead to better decisions down the road.

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