Some of the most effective people I know, are accountants and bookkeepers. Why? I think it is because they often perform tasks that repeat themselves. The positive side of repetition is that you get better and faster over time. The negative side is that you can become blind to other possibilities and end up being the best and the fastest at doing something that is not necessary. Though you are very efficient you become ineffective.
That is one of the main reasons you should question everything once in a while. Sometimes you should re-invent your procedures and workflows. Technology can help in some cases and often it’s more simple than we think or fear. In fact technology can often get in the way of simple solutions, because a tool can seem smart but then be ineffective or faulty in the execution.
We have one of those examples with scanning solutions for financial systems. They can be really great but they can also be a hassle and create more work instead of less. Imagine the carpenter who used to drop by the accountant with all the papers for the bookkeeping. With the “amazing new scanning solution” he can scan all his documents in “only” 3 hours, if everything goes well. That’s OK you might think because some of the scanning solutions then automatically registers the entries for the bookkeeping. You’re right but what if the carpenter scanned the same document twice and the accountant now spend 1 hour or more trying to find where the problem is with the bookkeeping?
Sometimes seemingly simple solutions, become very complicated in the execution. In Netconomy we spend a lot of time on these kinds of issues because we believe that people and communication is more important than papers and technology. I know that is a strange statement from an online company that makes technological solutions – but we work very hard every day to make sure the technology helps the people in businesses to communicate effectively. We value effectiveness in execution over “coolness” in status and appearance. That is the reason we made a solution, where the carpenter can enter his data without understanding any kind of financial principles. Then we deliver those data to a professional accountant or bookkeeper in a format that works with all the financial principles and systems in place.
Our team is made up by developers at heart and our natural inclination is towards new solutions as often as possible. That’s why we also understand the trap of spending too much time on new solutions and re-invention. I suggest you question everything at least a couple of times per year. See what’s available and try out a few new workflows or features you haven’t tested yet. Discover potential and then implement or let it go. When evaluating if something is worth using I find it very helpful and guiding to ask myself, “What problem am I trying to solve?”. The people who started PayPal began by creating a payment system for a device they thought everyone would have in the future – the PalmPilot. They ended up using a technology that was already old news instead – the Email.
What problems are you trying to solve and what are the most effective tools available to solve them?