Computer Accounting : Basic techniques to operate Accounting Software's
How to Computerize Business Operations
Computerizing business operations is an effective way to streamline business processes, accurately manage large amounts of information and data, and accomplish more work in less time. Advertising, accounting, client information management and interoffice communications are business processes that benefit from computerization. The decision to computerize business operations requires input from all levels of the organization. Important details must be considered, including decisions about computer hardware and software purchases, specialized computer training needs, and a systematic approach to data entry and management.
Assessing Computerization Options
Brainstorm and research areas where computerization could be useful.Take time to consider what could be automated to improve your business operations. Think about labor-intensive work that could be simplified or improved with software. Alternately, consider systems that might need to be backed up (like accounting or personnel records). Ask other business owners what they have automated and how it has affected their operations.
- You can also read trade publications and industry journals to get computerization ideas.
Consult with all staff members.Meet with managers and department heads. Ask them to make a list of all activities that can potentially be computerized. Handwriting payroll checks and envelope labels, manually calculating product totals and sales tax, and outsourcing flier production to printers are just a few examples of tasks that can be done in-house on a computer.
- Ask managers to meet with their employees. Include employees at all levels of the business in the conversation to implement a system that benefits everyone.
- For example, a delivery driver whose main job is to deliver goods may save time from a company investment in a GPS system, rather than writing out directions by hand or consulting a map.
Consider using accounting software.The first step many businesses take in computerizing their operations is the use of accounting software. This software allows you to keep track of your accounts, pay your employees, create financial statements, and file your taxes (or may offer some of these options depending on which software you choose). It also may ensure that your financial data is backed up offsite in case you need it. Accounting software can replace keeping physical books that may be disorganized or labor-intensive with any easy-to-access computer version.
- Some paid options include QuickBooks and FreshBooks.
- However, you can also use free accounting software like Wave Accounting.
Use computers for communications and/or marketing.Most small businesses already use email and perhaps computer faxes to carry out business communications. These methods allow for lower cost, easier ways to communicate with and send information to customers and vendors. However, software may also be used for marketing efforts. For example, email might be used to send out a newsletter or details of a new product to existing customers.
- More complicated marketing software allows businesses to track customer information, follow leads, and create marketing campaigns.
- Examples include Marketo, Sailthru, and Vocus.
Get specialized design or manufacturing software.If your business involved the design and manufacturing of products, software can greatly aid your product creation process. Design software allows you to create virtual models of your product and run tests on it, without even creating a prototype. In addition, this software can be linked to manufacturing programs that control machinery, allowing you to perform the whole creation process on the computer.
- The type of software used will depend on your industry, product type, and machinery. Search online for design and manufacturing software packages specific to your needs.
Use software to manage inventory.Inventory software aids in the ordering, receiving, tracking, and shipping of inventory. This software might also work with accounting software and/or electronic inventory management systems to automate your operations. This allows you to more easily control your inventory, reducing inventory shrinkage and improving efficiency.
- Examples include 3PL Warehouse Manager, BizSlate, and Cin7.
Manage HR and scheduling.Software can also be used to manage part of your employee relationship. For one, HR software packages allow you to pay, onboard, and give leave to your employees. They also might allow you to manage employees benefits or deal with details specific to independent contractors, depending on which software you choose.
- Examples include Zenefits, sumHR, and BambooHR.
- In addition, other software can be used to manage scheduling for hourly workers and/or customer appointments. These programs streamline and improve the scheduling process, reducing possible errors and forgotten appointments.
- Examples include When I Work, Genbook, and Booker.
Installing Computer Systems
Choose the right software or software package.Select the areas in which software could most improve your operations. Then, research software and software packages (groups of interconnected programs) that meet your needs and fit within your budget. Be sure to not blow your whole budget on software, as you still need to purchase hardware and pay for incidental costs like employee training, system installation, and security software.
- Be sure to investigate open-source software. It may not have all of the features you need in some cases, but it is free and might serve as a good introduction to computerization.
- Programs like SugarCRM (for customer management) and Simple Invoices (for invoicing) are available for free online.
Identify your hardware needs.Check your software packages for hardware requirements. Be sure to note required processing power, memory (RAM), graphics cards, and operating system. In most cases, the software will list minimum requirements, so you might consider shooting a bit higher so that your system doesn't need to be upgraded if you decide to change software in a few years. Knowing what type of hardware power you need will help guide your computer search.
Research computer hardware options.Consult with a computer expert, explain the processes of your business and ask for hardware recommendations. The type of business you run, the amount of information you must process and save, and the speed with which the data must be accessed are all important considerations in choosing computer hardware.
- Most of the money you spend will likely be on personal computers for you and your employees. Your first choice is between desktops and laptops. Both provide the same capabilities (unless you need very powerful hardware to run complex programs), but laptops are most expensive.
- However, they also offer more flexibility and might encourage collaboration (employees can move around the office with laptops).
- Remember to also look into peripherals for your computer, if needed. For example, you might need additional monitors, printers, external hard drives, scanners, or tablets for certain programs or to aid in your operations.
Arrange for computer installations.After making decisions about hardware and software options, arrange for the computers to be installed. If it is a small office, the task may be as simple as plugging in the computers yourself. If the hardware or software company you purchased from offers installation, be sure to take advantage of this. Make sure your systems are up and running before the installer leaves.
Secure your computer system.Consult with a computer security specialist to select the best antivirus software. Explore software options for securing confidential data like customer payment information and employee personal information. You should buy a program that provides protection like antivirus, firewall, and network intrusion detection. For more data-sensitive businesses, you can take it a step further with various encryption and employee identification tools.
Incorporating Computer Systems
Set up training sessions for all employees.Staff members may possess varying degrees of comfort and proficiency with computers and specialized software. Arrange for employees to be trained on all computer activities necessary for their assigned tasks. For complicated systems, you may wish to have the vendor or service technician train employees.
- Ensure that training sessions are thorough, particularly for critical tasks.
- If your business is a medical clinic, for example, be sure that all doctors and nurses are well trained on how to enter and access critical patient information.
Start an organized and logical process for entering data.Begin with high priority tasks and projects with pressing deadlines. Implement one system at a time so that your operations don't get deadlocked by slow system implementation. Your overall goal should be to integrate computer system quickly and seamlessly.
- For example, if your business will computerize payroll statements, prioritize this task to ensure timely payroll checks.
- Consider hiring temporary workers for data entry if there is a significant amount of it. This allows your regular employees to continue doing their jobs without interruption.
Keep all hard copy documents.In the event that mistakes are made in data entry or in saving data to the new system, you may lose all of your data. To prevent this, keep all hard copy documents, such as invoices, client records, employee information and other documents containing important details.
Invest in a backup system.Consult with a computer specialist to choose the best backup system for the needs of your business. If your business is small, you might choose to manually backup your data to a portable storage device on a regular basis. For larger businesses, options include automating the backup procedure through online file storage providers and backup server.
- Ideally, backups should be kept off-site, either physically or online in cloud storage.
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