The Business Advisory Blog

The Business Advisory Blog

Insight, news and updates from Alliott NZ Chartered Accountants, Auckland New Zealand. The views expressed here are the views of the author and should be discussed in further detail should an article be relevant to your individual circumstances.

While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.

Greg Millar
Published on

Not another feel-good story about spring-cleaning

Any professional in most industries could probably give you five good reasons why you should declutter and organise your life or your business every time the darling buds of spring appear.

Vanessa WilliamsFor small and medium business owners, doing this is no longer about starting the warmer weather on the right foot.

Increasingly, government departments and other agencies require business owners to do things their way – online.

“More and more information is being sent electronically so, for our business, having electronic copies makes sense,” says Alliott NZ Director Vanessa Williams.

“The accessibility to our clients’ records is so much more streamlined,” says Vanessa. “They ring up and we don’t have to physically search for their information. It’s all at our fingertips.”

Having upgraded from being ‘traditional paper filers’ ever since Alliotts was established, the benefits of going electronic have been several fold.

Up until then, the business was at a tipping point, “About five years ago we became mindful of our physical storage which was doubling each year so we had to make a decision.”

“Apart from the obvious benefits of reducing our storage costs, freeing up floor space and improved efficiency, we have better business continuity with respect to our records in case of fire, for example, plus we now experience a much more positive working environment,” says Vanessa. “Just reconfiguring our office after removing our filing cabinets gave us 20 square metres of extra room to move!”

“It is still a requirement to file seven years’ of work records in New Zealand; we just do this electronically now.”

Alliotts’ work habits have improved as well.

“We review digital files, not manual files,” says Vanessa. “Most client communications are electronic; we’re not 100% there yet but our reliance on manual is ever-diminishing.”

“Then our process is to scan everything and destroy paper copies into secure document destruction bins so no client confidentiality breaches occur.”

“All our invoicing is digital now, plus our supplier invoices are fully maintained electronically in Xero and organised using ReceiptBank,” says Vanessa. “Our Smart Payroll system is all online and its app is in full use so the paper flow for that has also gone – employees can access via the app their payslips and annual leave entitlement online.”

Going electronic has opened Alliotts’ minds to further possibilities. Vanessa believes the next step is to investigate an eSignature system like DocuSign.

For now, the Alliotts team enjoys the time freed up by not having to prepare hard copy communications for franking and posting. Everything is scanned so documents don’t go astray which means they can be located super fast.

Thanks to being electronic, the ‘spring cleaning’ for Alliotts is now very much about reviewing work practices and making continued improvements. There is always a requirement to review and put in place controls but with soft copies being somewhat less tangible, Alliotts have had to adapt and tighten up their procedures.

“We are very clear about how and where to file,” says Vanessa. “We learned that if we apply a systematic filing system that identifies documents by year, it makes things much easier for archiving.”

“We also needed to make sure we had sufficient capacity. Our IT Manager monitors our storage use and flags if we have any saving or archiving issues.”

“And we always check the quality of our database information to reduce bounces that may risk communications getting lost or not reaching the intended recipient.”

“We are miles ahead of where we used to be,” says Vanessa. “Before, a client would ring up and ask for 2011 accounts and we’d walk to the filing cabinets and try to locate them either onsite or offsite. Now we can locate any file and email it to our client whilst they’re still on the phone.”

“It’s definitely the way we want like do business and very much inline with the way business practice is going right now.”

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Topics: customer experience digital disruption efficiency invoices Paperless