An example of work we’ve done…
This small financial services company had been keeping paper records for nearly two decades.
Each of their more than 100 customers had a set of individual paper files, stored in a number of file folders, which were stored in a variety of places around the office, and in some cases in a variety of places on one computer, as well.
Customer information, like name, address, phone, etc., had to be entered into each document individually.
The only way to view the status of any individual customer account, or of the entire business, was to gather the right pieces of paper, and then read them for the pertinent information.
In fact, there was no automated reporting at all (save the online bank statement), meaning that putting together tax information for the accountant was a significant job.
The customer was not comfortable with software (any software), but recognized the need and potential benefits.
The Main Problem
The primary desire was to simplify and “computerize” the monthly reconciliation process.
Since information was stored in 3, 4, or 5 different places, the monthly account reconciliation for these 100+ customers took many hours, frequently spanning several days, and the manual process sometimes created mistakes that weren’t discovered until subsequent monthly reconciliations.
Despite not being comfortable with software, or computers, it seemed like it was time to make a change.
Action and Results
Following a standard process, we:
- Had a series of meetings, learning the core of the business, the existing processes, and the initial set of requirements
- Did some research, and then met again to revisit and refine requirements
- Produced initial list of candidate solutions
- Implemented a trial solution (which was nearly free)
- Reviewed the solution, and then further refined requirements
- Did more research into possible software solutions
The specialized needs / requirements of this business precluded the use of the commonly thought of (and frequently suggested) “solutions,” such as QuickBooks. In fact, if they had followed those well-intentioned but ill-informed suggestions, they would have wasted months of time, a bundle of money, and would have lost the little momentum they had.
In fact, if they had followed those well-intentioned but ill-informed suggestions, they would have wasted months of time, a bundle of money, and would have
lost the little momentum they had.
Most of the software that would fulfill the specialized requirements was built for much larger firms, and was therefore not a good value, but diligence paid off, and we found a competent piece of software at an affordable price.
The customer purchased the suggested solution. We did the implementation, and were asked to learn the software, instruct in its use, and then help create new processes.
Some of the immediate results were:
- The time required for the monthly reconciliation, done by someone very “tentative” with computers, accomplished with unfamiliar software and new processes, was immediately cut in half.
- All customer data was entered once, not repeatedly, saving more time.
- Reliable views of individual customer account status were now available in seconds.
- A complete set of reports on the status of the business was now available in seconds.
Photo credits: joshuahoffmanphoto