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Team reviewing business processes together.

Four ways to improve business process efficiency.

In the flurry of a busy week, month or year, it can be easy to lose track of why you do things — and even harder to identify areas to improve. During a “Business Process Review,” a third-party consultant studies your processes to identify opportunities to increase efficiencies, resolve issues or institute new processes. If you’ve never had such a review, or it’s been several years since the last one, it may be worth considering. Your processes may not be keeping up with your business, you may have experienced changes or there may be new technologies available.

Consultants usually charge a fee for this service, but there are some banks that offer it at no cost and with no obligation. It can take as little as 2-6 hours to observe your current processes resulting in a detailed report of findings and recommendations presented as early as the following day.

Here are four areas that a good Business Process Review (BPR) will cover:

1. Manual processes.

When your company gets paid, does someone open the mail, gather the payments and invoices, post payments, get approval on invoices and prepare the deposits? If so, that’s a lot of manual work to keep track of — especially if you receive a high volume of payments and invoices. Part of your BPR will cover areas where these processes can be automated to reduce time and errors.

2. Check deposits.

Rather than preparing a deposit slip to hand deliver to the bank (before 5 pm, no less), most banks offer remote deposit which allows you to scan checks in the office and submit an electronic record to your bank. It creates an electronic receipt of all your deposits and you’re able to receive the amount of your deposits more quickly. Your BPR will help you know if this is a good solution for you.

3. Sending and receiving payments.

Paper checks can take several days for the funds you’ve deposited to be available in your business account. Even a “float” time of a couple of days can put a strain on cash flow. A proper BPR will address how you receive payments and make recommendations that fit with your business, such as Automated Clearing House or ACH.

4. Staff training.

If there is only one person in your business responsible for the entire payments process, what happens when that person has a bad day, is sick or goes on vacation? When you cross-train your staff, each team member can cover for each other during a vacancy. They can also check each other’s work to catch any errors. Plus, by rotating employees through different roles, you keep their job interesting and help them feel more engaged and productive. 

An important part of any business.

Accounts receivable and accounts payable dictate cash flow, which in turn affects everything from inventory to payroll. In fact, the process by which you pay bills, process payroll and receive customer payments may be your business’s most valuable piece of infrastructure. There are many moving parts to your business processes involving personnel, technology, customers, suppliers, your bank and any number of spreadsheets and steps in between. For something that you and your team manages on a daily basis, it’s in your best interest to make it as streamlined as possible with a customized solution to fit your business. 

Next steps.

So where do you start? If your first answer wasn’t your bank, maybe you’re not expecting enough of them. Don’t be afraid to let them know you expect them to be a strong ally in accomplishing your business objectives. Of course, with the best banks, you won’t have to ask. 


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