Managing Your Cash Flow

The true impact of admin on SME productivity

4 min read

19 March 2018

Former special projects journalist

It’s easy to get bogged down in admin. Yet sometimes we are so preoccupied with getting things done, we forget to question whether there might be a better way.

Business owners often find themselves spending hours upon hours on tedious admin. It’s something that has to get done, but all too often leaders get used to doing things a certain way and forget to question step back and work out whether SME productivity can be improved.

It might not sound like a pressing concern, but not only is it tying up time that could be better used for strategy and business growth, it can also cost money.

According to a recent survey by WorkMobile, two thirds of businesses are wasting at least £2,000 per employee every year due to over-reliance on paper.

Around 67 per cent of employees admit their companies are paper-based, including paper forms and posted mail. This leads to 60 per cent of employees printing out physical documents a few times a week, with 30 per cent printing them out on a daily basis. This can really add up.

It’s not just the cost of printing and storing paperwork either – there’s the cost of manpower to factor in. A report from Sage recently found that the world’s business builders currently spend an average of 120 working-days per year on administrative tasks, accounting for around five per cent of the total manpower of the average SME.

This is not something that should be simply brushed off – the research found that an increase in productivity of just 5.6 per cent in the UK could lead to an increase in GDP of at least £33.9bn per year.

Of the administrative tasks analysed, accounting was the costliest, taking up over 20 per cent of total administration time.

So, what can small business owners do to reclaim some of that lost time?

“Cloud technology removes heavy administrative burdens – people working in the business are left with more time to spend on the things you actually pay them to do, unless they’re administrators, of course!” said Rob Liddiard, Co-founder and CEO of messaging app Yapster.

Revenue-based finance provider Fleximize has also taken the technology route to improve efficiency. Peter Tuvey, co-founder and CEO, explained his approach to payroll.

“We use both spreadsheets and accountancy software, but mainly software. With a software package, there is additional support that you don’t get when just using a spreadsheet. Sage Business Cloud Payroll, for example, has process flows which prevents parts of the process being missed out.

“We always ensure that plenty of time is set aside for the processing of payroll. Cut-off dates are issued to the relevant managers so that information is received in good time and the payroll department has time to check and recalculate as necessary. We’ve also made more use of HR systems, allowing us to centralise all details for payroll and make custom reports which reduce input errors and streamline the process.”

There are many different options out there to help small business owners improve the efficiency of a whole range of business processes associated with SME productivity – from communications and marketing to accounting and payroll.

There are more pitfalls to spreadsheets than you might perhaps think, but cloud technology and automation can help improve the flow of processes, free up time, and save money. Take the time to see if it could work for your business.

For more information on admin and SME productivity, click here.