Keeping a marketing/ad agency or PR firm on point requires a lot of proactive juggling. Between acquiring new clients, delivering work to current clients, honing creative skills and proficiencies, and staying on top of the latest technology and best practices, there’s more than enough to keep your schedule packed. And that’s all before bringing up the backroom processes that ensure your company functions efficiently and effectively.
We’ve talked before about how outsourcing your agency’s back office needs can be a great choice for getting these important tasks off your plate and into the hands of an experienced expert. However, there’s another solution you can turn to for agency bookkeeping and HR tasks, and it isn’t mutually exclusive to remote bookkeeping: automation.
Certain kinds of repetitive tasks are best handled in whole or in part by software for a variety of reasons. Making your workday easier is only one of them. Automation means there are fewer chances for human error and more accurate and precise results across the board. It also means that subtasks don’t get forgotten because they’re performed automatically as soon as the right conditions are met.
This actually highlights another key benefit… consistency. Whether the pertinent staff are in the office, on a trip, out sick, or even if they’ve quit, automated tasks will still happen no matter where they are or what they are doing. This forms a foundation of business continuity while ensuring a more satisfying and consistent experience of your brand for both customers and vendors. The perception of your company will be that you are dependable and timely, all without major effort on your part. Best of all, automation saves time for you and your team, and in the end, can also save a good bit of money. This is why at KYB we focus on creating immediate automation recommendations for our clients as well as specialize in setting them up and utilizing technology.
Tasks That COULD Be Automated FOR Your Agency
Below we’ve put together a short list of HR and financial tasks that could be automated to run an efficient marketing, advertising, consulting or PR firm. However, please remember that these are just a few of the myriad of options that automation is capable of handling.
This works exceptionally well with paperless businesses, however, options that include printing and scanning can be available. Invoice automation often takes the manual labor out of data entry, making it a breeze for accounts payable to record an invoice from a vendor and push it forward to the next step. Furthermore, with task tracking software, invoices can be generated automatically and emailed directly to the client.
2. Time Sheets
It’s doubtful that you’ve had to literally punch a card to record your hours at work any time recently, but there’s more to automated timesheets than just tracking time. For one thing, it closes the gap between receiving time sheets and sending them to payroll. For another, it can help your agency regain small yet critical times that would otherwise be un-billable, such as email conversations with clients. There are automation protocols to flag employees who are consistently late for review with HR, or even automatically send a warning letter.
Automated payroll tasks can expedite the time it takes to pay your most precious commodity — your own staff. It has the ability to accurately account for overtime, sick leave, and more. Best of all, it accurately accounts for income taxes that need to be withheld from each check. If you utilize an online payroll system, this is yet another area of your business that can go paperless.
4. Expense Tracking
In terms of going paperless, expense tracking, reporting, and accurately reimbursing have often been behind other areas of bookkeeping. That’s due to all the receipts and explanations that are required to maintain compliance. Now, however, mobile technology has picked up the slack. It’s easier than ever for employees to snap pictures of receipts to add them to the cloud. Coupled with the right Payroll service, reimbursement can occur automatically on the next check, all without you having to worry about whether or not it was taxable.
5. Accounts Receivable
We touched on invoicing already, but that’s not the only purview of accounts receivable. The process of actually receiving payment from clients isn’t always as straightforward as you would like. They often require reminders, sometimes more than once, and applying penalties for being late (or, perhaps, rewards for paying ahead) adds another layer of complexity. Automation means that reminder letters or emails can be sent out in a timely manner, prompting for payment. If payment isn’t received, it can be flagged for review and receive more immediate attention.
Certain reports, like financial reports, collate straightforward data from various periods in time, or for various lengths of time. Manually-generated reports can be extremely time consuming, as everything is checked and double checked for accuracy. When the process is automated, it can be done almost instantly. This allows you to work with the most up-to-date information possible and ensure it’s in your inbox on a regular schedule that fits your needs.
7. Onboarding and Benefits
The recruitment process can often be passed between a few different individuals, adding the risk of losing paperwork, or even great prospects’ documents getting buried by other paperwork, so they’re missed. Onboarding includes other forms and status adjustments, including the eligibility of benefits. Automation streamlines employee records, keeping them in one place that’s accessible to everyone with the proper credentials. Statuses can be visibly marked, and notifications about hiring and eligibility can be automated as well.
8. Tax Forms
No matter the size of your agency, ensuring you have the right tax forms filled out by the right people for the right deadlines can be confusing. Tax codes regularly change, so you may have different deadlines to meet than you think. Automation takes out mistakes and forgetfulness. For instance, 1099’s and W2s need to be sent to contractors and employees by a certain deadline, and automation can ensure they go out on time, and the right forms are sent to the right type of employee.
The One Thing You Should NEVER Automate
Of all the things that can be automated, you should be sure that your relationship with your clients never gets close to being on the list. While there are some elements of communicating with clients that can be automated — for instance, invoicing or certain kinds of emails — the relationship that you develop with them simply cannot be relegated to software. Instead, automation should serve to make more time and resources available to you to spend on your customers and reinvest into your business. It’s an opportunity to maximize the quality that you can provide to them.
Automation, paired with the right bookkeeping partner, can allow you to worry less about agency bookkeeping and HR tasks and focus more on what really matters… growing your business. The tasks will be completed on time, no matter what, saving you time and money while staving off extra stress. Use our list above as a starting place to determine which tasks can be automated at your agency.