Winter is here, and with that comes one of the busiest times of the year for finance and accounting professionals, sales managers, and anyone else in charge of the travel policy at your company. With a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it, it’s important to take control of your processes and close out the year on a high note.
Following our last blog discussing the busiest expense day of the year, today we would like to turn our attention to the busiest month of the year… and how you can take proactive steps to make your job easier as a finance pro.
Bringing the Year in for a Landing
As the end of the year rapidly approaches, and the busiest expense day of the year comes into view, it’s time to buckle down.
The first step is to sum up the task at hand and start focusing on what you need to do as you start crossing days off the calendar. A few tips to clear your mind, your desk, and your schedule as you approach the end of the year:
- Turn off the cell phone, shut down the email. A common trap that professionals find themselves in is that every email needs to be tackled now. However, every single push notification and email alert takes your mind off the task at hand, and can actually decrease productivity by 20 percent. For more information, read “What’s killing productivity in the office?”
- Schedule your distractions. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Don’t forget to take a break once in a while—it can actually help you get back to work more focused than ever. But know when it’s going to happen. Schedule breaks throughout the day and try to keep to that schedule. One of these schedules is the Pomodoro Technique, which focuses on a strict 25/5 on-off schedule.
Once you’ve prepared yourself, it’s time to prepare your team. Getting everyone on board and in sync as you race to the finish line is vital, and could make the difference between you spending your nights at the office or at home.
- Hold a meeting. We know, it may sound counterproductive to hold a meeting—often considered to be nearly as unproductive as email and social media (meetings have never been productive, as referenced by this 1976 Harvard Business Review article). However, you need a game plan, and with proper meeting management techniques, you can avoid tangents, tirades, and time drains.
- Encourage Communication. Once everyone is on board, it’s important they stay on board. Encourage your employees to ask questions, so that they’re not spending hours on the knowledge base or message boards, trying to figure out what they need to do.
With everyone on board, and everything in place, it’s time to get moving and tackle all of the receipts and invoices on your desk.
- Keep it simple. Now is not the time to make major changes—look for opportunities to cut down time spent on activities, but don’t do a complete overhaul of processes just yet. If possible, find the most time-consuming step and think of a way to cut 5% off of it.
- Realize that 5% won’t cut it next year. If you made a small change, great. Now know this: 5% is a start, but as January approaches, you now have 12 months until you have to tackle this again. Learn how you can cut your reporting, approval, and reimbursement time and costs in half (or more) next year. Learn how a 30-minute integration cut hours each month off of this nonprofit, how this tech company cut its approval and payment process from 15 business days to three, and the true cost of an expense report here.
Get Past It
Now that it’s over, it’s time to celebrate—for now. Take your team out for lunch, congratulate them on their hard work bringing the year in for a landing, and get ready, you have to take off again pretty soon.
Take Control of 2018 Expenses: Learn More about Concur
While you may have 2017 in the books, 2018 is just around the corner. Even if you did make small fixes, there are ways to simplify, automate, and tear down the silos.
Concur, who processes over 86 million expense reports each year from more 40 million end users on every continent (as well as the International Space Station), knows a thing or two about easing the expense reporting process. Professionals in every industry have turned to this software to shorten the approval process, simplify reporting, and enhance policy compliance.
As a trusted Concur App Center Partner and Concur Platinum Advisor, we have helped companies tackle their travel, expense, and invoice processing needs for years, and would like to help you. If you want to bring 2017 in for a landing and make 2018 your easiest year ever, contact us today for short- and long-term strategies to save time, minimize costs, and smooth out the reporting and approval processes.