Follow-Up Friday: The Most Wonderful Tools for Managing Action Items

You need to have all the pieces in your workflow to follow-through completely. Here’s how to do it by reducing bottlenecks in your business.

The success of your company hinges upon doing the right things in the most productive way. It requires knowing what resources are available and how to effectively use them. This is going to force you to assess your business routine and pinpoint the steps that are involved.

Create a Paperwork Flow With Multiple Access Points 

Now we all have to process paperwork for one reason or another. The goal is to spend the least amount of time doing it. Saving time is a factor of productivity that you can improve by making documents simple to access and find. Not every document that crosses your desk is going to be important but many of them are. Examples include banking, credit card, insurance, loans, and legal information. Online storage resources like Dropbox makes it extremely convenient to access files while at your desk and when you are on the road. Another time saving resource is Myfax.com which frees you up to send and receive faxes by email and on your cellphone.

Stock Up on Supplies

Nothing says, “stop the presses” like running out of supplies. Stay productive by being prepared with what you need on hand. For example, keeping an adequate supply of checks, stamps, and envelopes can help you stay on top of managing finances. Be sure to check your stock on a regular basis. Know how much time you need to allow for re-orders so that you are always well stocked with supplies.  Rather than making the trip in person consider saving time and money by ordering online and by phone.

Simplify Contact Management

Stay in touch with contacts by keeping your list up-to-date. A simple way to do this is by adding contact information in one place and syncing to a shared platform. Services such as Plaxo, for example allows you to duplicate contact information between on and offline software so that you can access contacts on your computers, tablets, and cell phones. Check out Plaxo’s video below.

Backup to Reduce Loss and Downtime

Now after doing the prep work and completing the tasks the final step is to have a way to protect and store your files. Believe me as someone who has seen hard drive failure on more occasions than I care to count, I realize how important this is to keeping your business running. One of my favorite tools is Carbonite  because it automates the process. Simply set the location for backup along with the date and voila! Like magic, it does the work for you.

So as you go through your action items today consider how to be more productive and efficient.

Remember that a little planning now saves a lot of time later.

I’d love to hear what tools make your workflow smoother. Share your tips with other readers by leaving a comment below.

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How Entrepreneurs, Accountants (And Anyone Else) Can Use DropBox for Recordkeeping

ImageWhen it comes to keeping better records, it usually boils down to a few things: Cutting through the clutter and simplifying the process. In this post I am sharing five steps to move you through getting the records organized and making them easy to access.

Resource 1: Scanner

One piece of equipment that every entrepreneur should have if they want to be more productive is a scanner. A scanner is essential to saving time in bookkeeping. A convenient feature that many manufacturers have now is the option to save scans as pdf. This format is ideal because you can open it with the free Adobe Reader. If this program is not already on your computer you can download it here.

Resource 2: Memory Device

There are several ways to save scans. One way is to scan to your computer by connecting with a USB cord. Depending on the type of scanner you have, another option may be scan to a network folder (see your scanner,s instruction manual for details). If you are using a newer model then you likely have the option to scan to a flash drive. This is my favorite time saving feature because there are no wires, internet connection, or software involved.

Resource 3: Filing System

Once you have the source documents scanned, you are ready to organize the information. Save time by organizing the folders on your computer hard drive so that it mirrors the folders in your physical filing system. Some categories that you can include are: Customer Invoices and Sales Receipts, Vendor Bills and Payments, Banking, Credit Cards, and Loan Statements.

Resource 4: Online Storage

Next you will need an online storage account. Here is where you upload and store the copies of your scans. When you are ready for the accounting to begin send a link to your online folder with your accountant.

Tip: There are many online storage providers but I like Dropbox best because of how simple and convenient it is for non-techies to use.

Resource 5: Due Date Reminders

Last, but not least, set a standing appointment on your calendar each month with your accountant. An online tool that works well for helping you to remember is called Remember The Milk. In my practice, for example, I recommend setting due date alerts for when to scan documents, when to share folders, and to alert me that they are complete.  By using these recurring reminders it takes a lot of the pressure off of decreases the amount of time that clients fall behind in work.

As with anything in life, having routines in business can improve follow-through. Do you have a regular routine for record-keeping that truly rocks?

Leave a comment and share your best record-keeping tips below.