Despite the rise in affordable digital admin solutions, too many small businesses struggle under a mountain of paperwork. A 2020 survey found that 79 per cent of UK SMEs used accountancy or HR software, 76% per cent used online marketing and social media solutions, and 73% sold directly to consumers through a website.

SMEs are often wary of the investment in time and resource introducing digital tools, technologies and the processes to support them will take. However, the costs of not doing so – including lost revenue, increased errors and higher prices – means they have little choice.

While the statistics are encouraging, over a quarter of SMEs could do more of their administration digitally. Here are five steps to help you take your cleaning business admin digital.

Commit to going paperless

OK, so you might not be able to remove every scrap of paper from your office, but by shifting your administration processes online, you can dramatically reduce it.

Start by auditing current systems and identifying the processes that involve the most printing. The reality is that most paper-based systems can be replaced by cheaper, more efficient and effective digital solutions – if you’re prepared to change.

A commitment to going paperless involves a cultural shift that puts digital solutions first. Let everyone in the organisation know how many reams of paper they use each month and how much you want them to reduce this to in a year’s time. That’s easy for everyone to visualise and to measure.

Go digital in finance first

Invoices, remittance advice and payslips are all business admin essentials that can be moved to digital solutions. Instead of creating, printing and mailing these out, a cloud-based system can do everything for you.

Digital finance systems will help to save you money and improve efficiency. For example, invoices take seconds to create and can be sent immediately, meaning you get paid sooner.

One of the most significant advantages for any business is transparency. At the click of a button, you can monitor and manage invoices and remittance advice. In addition, some platforms enable you to see when someone has viewed an invoice, so your clients or customers can’t claim it’s been lost in the post anymore.

Provide digital devices

Moving to a digital-first approach means investing in technology, and tablets are where you should start.

Issuing field managers and remote staff with tablets and relevant apps can improve the efficiency of their everyday tasks. For example, standard processes such as stock ordering, auditing, and completing timesheets can be done in seconds on a tablet.

When a job is complete, it can be marked immediately and an accurate invoice created in seconds (if you’ve introduced the digital finance solutions mentioned above!).

Portable, powerful and affordable, tablets are transforming the way we work.

Invest in staff training

Any system follows the old dictum: rubbish in = rubbish out!

You must invest in staff training when introducing new technologies, systems and solutions. Staff must feel confident and capable of using systems, particularly managers on their own in the field.

Regular training is an investment that will pay itself back in improved efficiency. This in particular, applies to staff using software for key business processes. Software solutions are constantly evolving and your staff need to be kept up to date with the latest functionality in order to work most efficiently.

One tip is to provide the opportunity for staff to ask questions and share their experiences. Then, over time, you’ll build relationships and a valuable skills base that everyone in your business will benefit from.

Review and refine processes and systems

Digital systems should be as streamlined and straightforward as possible. Once your system is up and running, it’s time to review and refine processes, identifying areas of duplication.

Typically, you’ll find that client, site and staff information is entered multiple times. Simply removing this can save time and resources. For individuals, this may be a few minutes a day; across an organisation, it could be hundreds of hours a year.

Build a better business

Digital systems and software solutions require ongoing review and management. You’ll also find that new features, apps, and other improvements could benefit your business. By committing to continually reviewing and refining processes and systems, you create a culture that’s always striving for better.