AD

Do leaders really understand the issue of managing admin tasks?

There are plenty of laborious admin tasks in business that are completely necessary to daily operations, but seem to get in the way of doing the things that inspire people to become entrepreneurs in the first place.
AD

It becomes a problem, however, when managing admin tasks start to take over what entrepreneurs actually set out to achieve and, as a result, starts to affect the productivity levels of the firm.

According to new research conducted by Sage, small businesses spend an average of 120 working days a year on managing admin tasks such as invoicing and recruitment.

That amounts to small business using an average of 5.6 percent of staff time to complete back-office admin tasks because companies don’t have sufficient or rather efficient procedures in place to deal with them.

One the face of it, that figure doesn’t appear to be that shocking in itself, but if productivity increased by the same amount, it would mean an extra £33.9bn could be added to British GDP each year. Suddenly, managing admin tasks seem to be that much more of an issue that we need to do deal with.

Low productivity is hampering our economy and this admin tasks issue is playing its part. As Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist, said: “Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything.”

I’m fortunate enough that my business is doing very well and, because of that, I’ve created dedicated departments in my company, which has allowed me to hire the right people who are always on the case when it comes to the day to day running of the business and managing admin tasks.

We have a control centre for bookings and accounts, recruitment and customer service departments to ensure that everything runs smoothly for the business and for the customer experience. Ultimately, it means as a company we can keep a growing number of engineers out on the road.

Of course, not everyone has the resources or capacity to have in-house departments. Small businesses especially couldn’t afford to do that, but they also can’t always afford to be wasting 120 days a year on managing admin tasks. Instead, small businesses should be looking at measures they can use to boost productivity.

Alan Laing, UK and Ireland MD at Sage, has suggested that perhaps the government could do more by helping firms to access digital ways of working. Small businesses could invest in better technology as one way to combat the issue, but I also think that it’s about playing to your strengths and making smart decisions, and looking back at that age old saying do you have square pegs in round holes?

Outsourcing is the best way to get what you need done without incurring huge costs to your business and damaging any organic growth and levels of productivity. And those of us who have a bit more experience in the bag, should be reaching out in a mentoring capacity and lending an ear to the small businesses who, although may be short on time for some things, are more than willing to listen.

A good entrepreneur should be able to network and use connections to get referrals and introductions in with the right people. It undoubtedly takes a lot to put complete trust in external contacts – especially to deal with something as big as your accounts.

But when time spent on accounting admin amounts to more than 20 per cent of total time managing admin tasks, as seen in the survey, it’s clear to see that it would be worth it in the long run to alleviate pressures, which company heads may not even realise are holding them back.

Share with your network

Follow Real Business:

About Author

Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins, also an OBE, is the archetypal entrepreneur – having started his business from scratch and then building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. From humble beginnings growing up on an estate in South London, he left school with no qualifications, but after a four-year plumbing apprenticeship he started his own firm, Pimlico Plumbers, which now generates a turnover in excess of £30m and boasts many well-known names among its many clients including Simon Cowell, Helen Mirren and Richard Branson. He has been a regular contributor on Real Business since 2011 and is particularly about apprenticships.

Real Business