3 ways SMBs can go paperless at End of Financial Year
By Luke Hamman – Head of SMB, DocuSign Australia
The end of the financial year can be a real headache for small business owners. You wear so many hats as it is – add the ‘tax time’ hat and things can get overwhelming. Imagine if End of Financial Year (EOFY) processes were as simple as a few keystrokes on your keyboard, and a quick email to your accountant.
The reality for most small businesses is a lot messier though, and the majority find EOFY a real pain point. All year long, you’re focused on bringing in new customers or selling more products. The back end – things like chasing up unpaid invoices, even sending out invoices in the first place – can get neglected.
By the time EOFY rolls around, it can all come back to bite. You may have missed your end-of-year targets because a few invoices slipped through the cracks. Or, you may discover that critical tax-time paperwork is missing from your filing cabinet. Late June becomes a mad scramble to chase these invoices and tidy up the paperwork.
How does this look to your customers? Remember, they are probably dealing with their own EOFY hassles too – the last thing they want is for you to knock on their door asking for payment for a forgotten invoice you sent out three months ago!
How a paperless EOFY works
Let’s look at a quick scenario to see how going digital can transform a company’s approach to EOFY.
A logistics company had a long and convoluted paper-based invoicing process. They couldn’t invoice customers until the delivery driver had obtained a signed proof of delivery form and sent it back to head office. Often, this process would take more than two weeks. Invoicing was slow and messy – which made life very difficult at EOFY.
The logistics company switched to a digital signature and invoicing process, and suddenly they were getting paid on the day. It meant that they could realise revenue within the financial year that they actually worked in – they hit their sales targets and were on track for growth.
The first steps towards an easy EOFY
Sending, signing and paying contracts digitally – all within the same day – can make all the difference at EOFY. So how do you go about it? What are the steps towards achieving a paperless transaction process?
Step 1: Gain the leaders’ buy-in
As with any digitisation project, change needs to come from the top. The owners or leaders of the business need to sell the proposition to staff, and help staff identify the processes that would most benefit from digitisation.
For example, there may be a manual, paper-based process that makes most staff want to walk out the door in frustration – like signing contracts with customers. (If your staff are frustrated by the process, imagine what your customers think!)
Step 2: Start small with one process
Once you’ve identified one process that would really benefit from digitisation, develop a road map for digitising this process. It’s a great opportunity to thoroughly review the strategy behind the process (e.g. can all the steps in the contract-signing process occur concurrently? Are all the steps in fact necessary?).
By going digital with one process, you will save time, free up resources and have a great proof of concept to get approval on further digitisation.
Step 3: Roll it out across more processes
Once one process has proven itself, start rolling it out across all the other processes that are currently holding your business back. Think of every process and piece of paper that is currently driving you crazy in the lead-up to EOFY, and make a note to digitise it.
By doing so, you will get to the end of next financial year and find that all the tax-time info you need is ready and waiting for you in digital files that you can easily collate and send across to your accountant. There’s no more endless to-ing and fro-ing, no more headaches, and much more time for you to focus on what you do best … growing your business.
If the accountants are doing it …
Chartered accounting firm William Buck Victoria is a great example of a business that has gone digital. The firm has digitised its tax return process:
"Our people no longer need to print ten-plus page returns, paste on the ‘sign here’ stickers and send them out by courier to be signed. Nor do our clients need to contend with the hassle of scanning or posting these back. Instead, the process is now digital and frictionless for both clients and employees."
Lalitha Koya, IT Manager, William Buck Victoria
William Buck has transformed its processes and reaped great results in the process. If they can do it, you can too.
And, if you start now, you’ll enjoy a completely pain-free EOFY by the time that June 30, 2018 rolls around.