10 Keys to Use Technology to Manage Small-Business Records

10 Keys to Use Technology to Manage Small-Business Records

Small business owners everywhere are embracing technology to manage their records, whether that’s by setting appointments, creating correspondence, recording business operations, processing payroll, tracking inventory, or more. While the business was not “paperless,” they recognized the advantages of using technology to maintain regulation. If you’re still limited to paper, it’s time to use the following 10 keys to re-link paper to electronic files.

1. Use Outlook to keep track of appointments, tasks, and projects
A paper calendar that goes anywhere you go is useful, but have you tried using a program’s calendar feature? With a computerized calendar, you can enter an appointment once and set it to repeat daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly, and you can set automatic reminders — tasks you can’t do on your paper calendar. Here’s another bonus: With a program like Outlook, all staff members can share calendars.

2. Scan business cards and transfer their information to Outlook contact lists
Tired of having to shove your way through Rolodex or a huge stack of business cards to find a phone number or email address? Well, you can walk away with whatever version of this nightmare you are facing. How do? Run each business card through a scanner that includes software to convert the information on the card into your Outlook contact list. Then you can find the information you are looking for through the search process.

3. Convert documents to Adobe .pdf files
MS Word has an option to save files in . PDF files. This process is painless. With a Word document open, choose FileSave AsSave as type, and click the drop-down arrow at the far right. Scroll down the list, select PDF, and click Save (next to Cancel at the bottom of the box).
What’s the Big Deal with PDFs? You don’t have to worry anymore about whether someone has the correct version of the program to read your file. Any computer with Adobe Reader can open any pdf file.
You can also scan letters, invoices and advertisements – any documents that fit in the scanner – and save them as pdf files. Just make sure your scanner is set to a .pdf file type before scanning your document.

4. Create master copies of frequently used documents
When you frequently use essentially the same character but with slight changes, keep a master file for it on your computer. Then when you need the document, open the main document, make changes, and print the document. Remember to save the file with a different file name so that the main file is not changed.

5. Use accounting software to create invoices and purchase orders
You don’t have to browse through filing cabinets full of invoices or purchase orders anymore. Use accounting software like QuickBooks or Sage 50 to create these documents. You may need to print the documents and mail them to the customer, but the actual file will stay – not in the space-consuming filing cabinets – but on your computer where finding an invoice is a matter of typing a few keystrokes.

6. Automate time cards, project billing and payroll processing
You can replace punching and processing time cards with an electronic payroll entry and processing. Think about the time saved and avoid mistakes. One employer says his company reduced payroll processing from 6 hours to 45 minutes using time card software. Now that’s a huge achievement.

And if trustworthiness is an issue for your business, you can buy software that requires every employee to put their finger on the scanner when working hours start and end! The Footprint sounds like a science fiction movie, right?

7. Electronic inventory follow-up
If your small business includes inventory, using technology is the only way to go. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software allows your business to keep an accurate record of inventory, fill orders more quickly, ship orders smoothly, and bill accurately because everything is computer-tracked. You can manage all these processes, using stickers and numbers on your computer screen.

8. Record purchases and product details about assets in a spreadsheet or database
When purchasing equipment or other assets, record the purchase and product details in a spreadsheet or database. With all the information at your fingertips, you can contact the seller with any issues, quickly tally your assets to a financial statement, or respond to an asset information request from the bank.

9. Make tax time a piece of cake
When all or most of your records are on the computer, tax preparation is much easier and more accurate than transferring data from a hard copy of documents to the computer.
With all your invoices or purchase orders in an accounting software, just run a report and – voila! —The program gives you total invoices or purchase orders for the year. The same is true for payroll, inventory, and assets. You can recover anything you have systematically stored on your computer when you need it.
10. Back up files
An additional advantage of using technology to manage your small-business records is that you can back them up — save them to a computer in another location or a flash drive, for example.
Why is that so important? The most precious computer asset is the data it holds. Keep an extra copy of that data so that you never face the dismay of lost records. You rarely get advance notice that burglar is going to steal your computer, a fire is going to melt it, or it’s just going to die.