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Take the “Work” Out of Paperwork
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Through automated systems, owners can stay focused on building business

This is the second in a series of four articles on how to manage new business development vs. day-to-day operations.

Is your small business drowning in staff-related paperwork that takes you away from doing what you (and your staff) should be doing – growing your business? Time sheets, time-off requests, expense and mileage reports, reimbursement forms: These are all necessary aspects of company operations, but the ever-growing stacks of forms consume much more than copier paper.

The extra labor and time to accomplish these tasks can be significant and directly affect the bottom line. Americans spend 9.8 billion hours a year – much of that in the course of commerce – handling and filling out government paperwork, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Internal processes are time consuming, as well. For instance, the American Payroll Association found that it takes an average of six minutes per timecard to manually review and input data for payroll. Add to this a company’s other internal forms, and it can be very difficult for executives to find a spare minute to concentrate on the business at hand.

What’s more, it costs $22 on average to manually input an expense report, according to a survey by Paystream Advisors, and $75 an hour to prepare federal tax forms, reports the National Federation for Independent Businesses.

Companies can find relief by automating internal systems for time and attendance and expense reporting. Among the benefits:

  • Controlled operating costs. Although automated software systems do require an initial investment, a business can immediately reap savings. Fully automating just expense management cuts processing costs by nearly 52 percent, according to Paystream Advisors. An automated time and attendance system, meanwhile, keeps a precise record of the time worked by each employee and can reduce the amount of overtime paid based on faulty calculations.
  • Reduced errors. Harried business owners or assistants may occasionally make a math error or input mistakes that result in over- or underpaying an employee or issuing a hefty reimbursement check. Automated systems reduce the likelihood of simple miscalculations and flag potential issues that result from typographical miscues or duplicate entries.
  • Ease of employee use. Automated systems typically can be accessed from computers throughout the office, allowing employees to input their information when it is convenient and, more importantly, timely. Some systems may even be available via the Internet or smartphone app, meaning traveling or telecommuting employees may receive timely reimbursements and paychecks without having to fill out and scan or mail forms.
  • Increased employee accountability. “Time theft” from rounding up clock-in/out times and “buddy punching,” in which one employee clocks in for another, can be easier to commit with older timekeeping methods, such as paper forms. Tools associated with today’s automated systems, such as biometric scanning and to-the-second clock-in times, help eliminate this issue and, as a result, can save a small business big money.

Reporting technology makes running payroll and reports a task that fills minutes instead of hours. Employees who can input their own expense and mileage reports also eliminate that time spent by a manager. The result is increased productivity for executives, who now have freed hours to pitch new business and serve customers.

Next week: Easing the regulatory compliance burden.

Janet FlewellingManaging Director of Service Operation, Insperity
Insperity, a trusted advisor to America’s best businesses for more than 28 years, provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance.Insperity business performance solutions support more than 100,000 businesses with over 2 million employees. | Facebook | @insperity | More from Janet

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Discussion (1) Comment

  1. Wendy AlpineVisitor

    Hi Janet, this is an interesting article. It does seem that more small businesses are moving to automated timekeeping systems. I wanted to let you know about a cool, new product that lets employees clock in and out using face recognition. It’s called FaceIN. Once you register, FaceIN allows employees to clock in and out within seconds. No need for PIN numbers, badges or time cards – just look and go. It’s touchless and hygienic so it’s ideal for foodservice operations, medical offices and more. For more information, please visit


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