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THE PAPERLESS OFFICE: 9 WAYS TO END PAPER WASTE FOR GOOD!

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paperless office

Okay, hands up — how many of you still use fax machines, paper statements and paper documents? If so, why?!

For many businesses, particularly accountants and lawyers, going paperless sounds pretty daunting. Both law and finance are traditionally paper-heavy industries with filing cabinets filled to the brim with signed paperwork and other bits of important information.

But at a time when almost every employee has access to a computer or mobile device, it makes sense to take active steps to help reduce the amount of paper we use in the work environment.

As such, hundreds of businesses are shaking up traditional business processes and shifting to a new, paperless office strategy. Yes, even lawyers and accountants are starting to go paper-free!

Save your money AND the environment

Going paperless can have many advantages for your business. Let’s take a look at two of the key incentives for reducing paper waste: cost savings and saving the environment.

Paper might be cheap and easy to distribute. But once you start paying for printers, toner, cabling, connectivity, maintenance, servicing and user support, it soon starts to add up. And that’s not including what you pay to file and store it all! Eliminating paper waste will save you money on printing, filing, postage and all other associated costs.

Aside from the cost savings, it’s no secret that the paperless approach is better for the environment. Less printing means fewer trees are cut down for pulp, and less energy is used to make and transport paper. And that can only be a good thing given the current focus on reducing emissions to hit the net-zero by 2050 target.

This is a big reason why so many businesses have started to reduce their use of paper. After all, we’ve cut down on our use of plastic bags in shops — why not cut down on our use of paper in the office?

 

Make the switch to paperless

Thanks to technology, it’s now possible to get rid of paper entirely, in almost all areas of business. So, what steps can you take to curb your business’ paper use?

Adopting the right tools and document management systems will go a long way to supporting your paperless office.

 

  1. Electronic sharing of documents

One of the simplest ways to eliminate the excessive use of paper is to use cloud-based applications such as Office 365. These let you share files with clients or internally — without a trip to the printer.

Digital documents are much more versatile than paper. They’re simpler for multiple people to amend, more searchable and easier to store and send. Office 365 is great for collaboration, as it lets you work on a document or spreadsheet simultaneously with colleagues and then continuously saves, so you’ll never lose the file you’re working on. And you can share them very securely! For example you can lock documents to prevent them being printed by just anyone.

 

  1. Online notebooks

Don’t you hate it when you start a new notepad and make a mistake on the first page? Not an issue with electronic notebooks like OneNote and Evernote.

These digital tools allow you to create, organise and share meeting notes, to-do lists and projects with anyone. You can even add annotations to your notes and easily search for them across all your devices.

While on the subject of to-do lists, applications such as Microsoft To-Do do a brilliant job of managing these for you.

 

  1. Smartboards

Be honest – how many times have you scribbled away on a flip chart during a meeting, only to throw it away five minutes after it’s finished? Old-school whiteboards are a great solution to this. Just take a picture on your smartphone if you need to save the notes for later — there are even apps, such as Microsoft’s Office Lens, which have a specialist smartboard scanning mode. Or even better, invest in an interactive smartboard!

 

  1. Dual-monitor setup

If you frequently find yourself printing out documents to cross-reference them with another one, it’s time to consider a dual or multi-monitor setup. Having two (or three) screens will allow you to compare documents side by side — without wasting any paper!

 

  1. Paperless statements

Electronic invoicing and paperless bank statements are the way forward to cut down on unnecessary paper usage. The more online billing and banking you do, the less you’ll spend on envelopes, postage and employee time. So, get in touch with your bank, suppliers and clients to arrange to use online banking and electronic invoicing.

 

  1. Expense apps and company cards

Expenses aren’t quite the mountain of paperwork they used to be — at least not with apps like Receipt Bank or software-integrated credit cards like Pleo. Receipt Bank allows you to capture receipts and receive your client’s paperwork via email or the app, while a range of other functions automates the entire process. Pleo’s company card also helps to simplify bookkeeping through its integrated accounting tools.

 

  1. Virtual business cards 

Have you ever gone to hand over your business card at the end of a meeting, only to realise you left it in the office? With digital business cards, you can consolidate and share all of your contact details and accounts instantly in one single view.

Apps such as Haystack and Inigo allow you to create consistent, digital cards for your whole team and then share them with contacts. Just think how much money you’ll save by not having to print hundreds of business cards for each employee!

 

  1. Electronic forms

To discard fax from your business process, it’s also worth replacing paper forms with fillable PDF ones. If you don’t want to fork out for paid applications like Acrobat, free online tools such as PDFescape also let you create and fill out PDF forms and then submit them via email or a web browser.

 

  1. Electronic signatures

Are you fed up with having to print, sign and scan documents before sending them back? Many people are still reluctant to use electronic documents or signatures, questioning their legal validity. But most countries now have laws that make electronically signed contracts just as valid as those signed with pen on paper! Free online tools such as Eversign allow you to create legally binding electronic signatures — ideal for finance and legal departments.

Soon, unnecessary paper waste and piles of office paperwork will be a thing of the past. The future is digital — but if you absolutely HAVE to print something, at least print it double-sided!

 

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

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SET YOUR BUSINESS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

Dean Fiveash, Head of FinTech Sales, IFX

Without doubt the Coronavirus pandemic impacted every aspect of our lives and fundamentally changed the way in which we all conduct business.

From the widespread adoption of working from home, to the amplified focus on employee wellbeing and work life balance, to simply acknowledging that people are more than their job titles and are often juggling childcare, pets and terrible wifi issues all whilst trying to do their job. The last 18 months have altered the way we work forever and in order to set our businesses up for success we have also needed to rethink how we operate.

Dean Fiveash

In a people facing sector like sales,  it’s  clear that the loss of face-to-face interaction is perhaps the biggest loss and an impending challenge as we slowly emerge from the confines of the pandemic. Gone are the days of instant downloads from ‘water cooler’ conversations with the team discussing deals or general matters. Instead, our inboxes and diaries are full of zoom catch ups. This isn’t to say that success has dwindled. Flexibility of working from home has helped many businesses to grow rapidly. In fact at IFX we have enjoyed our ten best months of company sales, but there is no denying the way in which we work within our teams has shifted. So how can you set up your sales teams to maximise its chances of success?

 

Adapting To The Times

For many businesses operating during these unprecedented times the shift towards the work from home culture has seen its benefits. Speed is key in the fintech industry and video calls on top of isolated working has greatly improved our time efficiency allowing us to do more for our clients in the long run. Equally, with the workforce being spread around the country and in some cases even globally, came the need for further rigorous checks and processes to ensure the high standards set in the office environment are still being met.

Despite this I would argue that this made us better sales people, and in turn a more successful and thriving sales team.

Post-pandemic success is grounded in not just the talent of your employees but also how you choose to structure your teams. For me, the old adage ‘People Buy People’ remains the most relevant factor for developing a slick sales team. At the end of the day, the technical stuff can be learnt over time but the proficient people skills needed in client facing roles is more innate.

When evaluating team skills, individuals who demonstrate determination and the ability to keep smiling through adversity are a vital asset, especially in the fast paced fintech industry.

Having worked in numerous team leader roles within the sales industry,  I know the difference that a collegiate and supportive team can make to successfully securing deals. The key is to have people at your disposal who are going to pitch in to help others, in turn making the team more robust. In the post-pandemic world, this will remain the key quality to look for and embed as a core value across the business.

 

Fostering A Successful Culture 

Whilst the team structure and core skills are an important part of the team set up, good management and personal development structure is crucial to success. At IFX, our sales leadership team all have client portfolios and are regularly signing and navigating deals. It’s through giving my team practical experience and regular client interaction that we can gain far better market insight than through managing team activity or KPIs alone.

More discipline is also required when working at home to retain the sales focus whilst navigating domestic distractions. As such, maintaining your employee motivation and focus is something each business should work on. A difficult feat without the physical presence of your team and one balanced on knowing your employees and their individual needs. But little things go a long way, so incentives and perks such as company socials, bonuses or simply a free breakfast can work wonders to motivate others. Another tip is to set  attainable goals and regular check-ins with your team to keep motivation on track to reach peak productivity.

 

Looking Forward

Team dynamics will continue to change to adapt to the ever-changing and rapidly evolving landscape, the secret to success will remain the same.

Something to look forward to in the next couple of years as a movement,  is the greater adoption of smarter contracts and embedded FinTech, which of course as businesses and as a team we will have to adapt to.

Ultimately, my biggest piece of advice to others is to get the basics right.  A leading-edge solution fails to achieve greatness if it isn’t backed with competent sales/relationship managers and attentive operational support. Traditional ingredients for success such as reputation and trustworthiness are built over time, often through word of mouth, but building a competent team who can make your clients happy is essential to that mix

 

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THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

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THE EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY NEEDS OF THE FINANCE DEPARTMENT

Jennifer Sims, Senior Consultant at Xledger

 

The world of finance software is evolving quickly, but with many new software contenders entering the market it can be a mindfield for organisations. Many finance teams are already using multiple accounting apps and software packages for bookkeeping, payroll and invoicing to service individual needs. Whilst it may work fine for now, this segregated approach isn’t sustainable for long-term growth. The world is swiftly moving to agile, automated ways of working. As a result, there is a growing need to choose suppliers that can fulfil multiple functionalities within the one platform.

Financial software is evolving at such a pace that it can be difficult to keep up. Changing up a finance solution is a big step and ease of migration can be a substantial factor in determining which solution provider to go with. But how do you choose a solution that will grow with your business and still offer something innovative in five or ten years down the line? The fear is always that non-techie organisations will end up falling behind, but in such a highly concentrated industry, how do you decide which solution would work best for you?

 

Cloud-first: the term that makes all the difference 

You could find a ‘cloud-based’ service with an application that comes with automated audit trails to make it easier to meet compliance and record-keeping obligations, for example. But for a solution to offer all of the many future benefits promised by the cloud, it needs to have been built specifically for a cloud environemt from the outset – ie. not an on-premise built system that has been later adapted. Cloud-first services (true cloud) were always intended to leverage economies of scale, cope with live updates, be accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, and to scale rapidly, to name just a few of the many benefits.

When we talk about innovation in financial technology, we’re not just talking about software that makes it easier for the financial controller to create reports. If eliminating reliance on Excel spreadsheets is the only tangible benefit you have to really shout about, you are missing out on the real deal. With ‘true’ cloud finance software the sky is the limit.

Finance and accounting technology needs to directly meet the needs of the finance function and support the wider business needs.  When looking at accounting software platforms you’d be hard pressed to find one that doesn’t now promise ‘cloud-based’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities. The cloud is nothing new, but it’s the way that a solution harnesses this environment that makes a real difference. And here is where there is a need to read between the lines.

 

Automate more with true cloud 

Historically, repetitive and manual tasks are typical of the finance role – from invoice postings to expense claims handling – these can overwhelm the finance team. Research by Xledger[1] has found that an enormous 91% of CFOs and finance decision makers are carrying out at least one of these repetitive tasks as part of their job. What’s more, senior finance leads are averaging a whopping 25 hours per week carrying out repetitive and manual tasks, compared with 15 hours for other finance decision makers.

A modern, true cloud finance system can enable your business to automate repetitive tasks and provide one source of truth so that teams can make informed business decisions that will help to scale a business. Bank reconciliation, dashboard creation and reporting are just some of the tasks that can be handled automatically.These capabilities are aiding overtasked finance teams and saving hundreds or thousands of hours a year.

Whilst different companies are at different stages in their digital transformation what is clear is keeping up with the latest technology is fundamental to the future success of an organisation.

Xledger is a true cloud finance solution. The basics include invoicing, robust general ledger accounting, detailed slice and dice reporting, purchase orders, billing, VAT reporting, and cash and bank payments. It also adds process and structure to the enterprise with procurement and inventory, budgeting and forecasting, and project accounting. Users are always on the latest version of the software and with regulation more stringent than ever today, Xledger is ISO 27001 accredited.

Choosing the right provider for your financial ERP solution comes down to whether it has the fundamentals right. When hosting all of your vital data in the providers’ own servers, it should evidence a highly tested security process that comes with backup services as standard.

As our demand for technology capabilities grows and as ERP models progress, innovation will become the structure for growth – and there is no end to the possibilities.

 

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