If you’re running a business, you’ve noticed we’re not in the ’90s anymore. And the 2000s are way behind us. And the 2010’s well, that’s ancient history. By now, most business leaders realize that there are thousands of different systems and software applications out there for each of your company’s various functions. And you’ve probably pieced together some integral technology to resurrect hopes that they could make your work easier (you might even be combining 90’s ‘paper and pencil’ technology, with 2000’s off-the shelf technology, with 2010 cloud-based technology). Your customer-facing technology has to look great. But your back office tech, well that might be a monster that you could outsource.
Where we see businesses thrive
Most of the companies we run into either keep old systems in place out of comfort, or they hack together different systems to try to create an organism to manage their back office. It often results in dead parts that are cobbled together to create a fatal “Frankenstein’s monster” of storybook proportions.
Here’s how many small companies piece together their back office using outsource technology and support:
1. Cloud-based Payroll
You may decide to use a lower-cost offering like Paychex or ADP to run your payroll. Or you might steer towards the higher end of the spectrum and go with a tech-enable platform like Gusto or Rippling. Or you may just decide to use a PEO as your option, which has its own pros and cons. This includes everything from a broad ADP platform like TotalSource to a tech-savvy platform like Justworks. One of the biggest caveats to look out for here is customer service. See if you can try before you buy. Beware of vendors that are scotch-taping zombie systems together on their side.
2. HRIS (Human Resources Information System)
In addition to your payroll system, you may need an HRIS system to track employee information and data. Things like like PTO/leave tracking and time tracking are becoming critical as more states put time and attendance under the microscope. The features usually have a direct interaction with your payroll system (see above), but also require some elements of compliance oversight. Imagine having employees in ten different states, each with their own rules around leave accrual, leave payout, and leave carryover. We’d say the same thing as above: try before you buy and see how well your time tracking integrates into your payroll AND your accounting system. You can also outsource this element of your back office.
3. Accounting/Bookkeeping on cloud
Do it cloud-based. Period. Some people still prefer desktop software, but if you want to grow, the online systems are secure enough today to let you rest at night. You may want to check out which system you like best. QuickBooks Online (QBO) tends to be ubiquitous. There’s also FreshBooks, FinancialForce, Sage, Wave, and Xero (and maybe a dozen more). They all do the same thing, and all have their own flavor. Some industries even have their own specific bookkeeping software and systems. One of the biggest items here is the learning curve related to set up, integration, and management. Check to see that whatever you use can be integrated with your payroll system, as a strong connection will save you a lot of time and headaches. And again: you can outsource this back office element, too.
4. Compliance with a personal touch
Compliance is a large, catch-all basket. It can include a ton of different variables such as company size, company location, company revenue, employee location, and benefits offering. Not only do federal and state requirements matter here, but so do internal compliance elements like your Company’s policies and procedures. This part of your organism can be quite delicate. You typically want a human with plenty of expertise advising you on this (this stuff is right up our alley). Using the wrong partner here could be problematic in the short term and disastrous in the long term.
5. Bill Pay/Collections
The folks down the hall in accounting call this AP (Accounts Payable) and AR (Accounts Receivable). Bill pay has evolved over the years. Back in the day, you could just write a check. Now you can process multiple transactions through systems via various methods like ACH or wire. Because of new tech that moves quickly, companies are even able to engage and work with vendors globally. This brings its own set of challenges and opportunities. Things like speed of payment, payment compliance, payment automation, etc. are important. And don’t you dare forget to have your international contractors complete a W8. If you have inter-company cross-border transactions, make sure they observe the “arm’s length” rule. Here you can automate a lot with something like Bill.com, yet we also advise finding a dependable and competent body to manage this for you.
Believe it or not people still send paper mail. And some notifications from agencies, and possibly large clients, are only done through paper mail. Therefore, considering how this is managed properly is important. Nowadays people are moving away from office space and toward remote work. Be sure to properly document incoming and outgoing mail. And make sure the right people see it. It’s unfortunate how much information that businesses have lost during the pandemic due to non-existent mail rooms, and inefficient mail procedures. So find a system that works. Our Core eOffice option can be a good option.
7. Find a brain
The final and vital element of an effective back-office organism is a brain. Maybe it’s your brain or maybe it’s someone else’s brain. More specifically, its brain power devoted to a specific function. Our belief is that executive brain power should be focused on the things that bring the business alive – not the routine work that can be done by experts or professionals. Outsource what you shouldn’t be doing yourself. That includes most of the back office functions.
Benefit of an outsource/tech back office blend
One of the benefits of outsourcing a function to a capable team is that you reduce the need to learn and operate all of these systems. An outside team can help simplify the process – you can let them go through the hard work of picking the best software, systems, and technology. And when you’re ready to bring everything in house, you can ask for the keys.
Outsource your back office
So as you call your own creation to life, make sure it’s not Mary Shelley’s. Piece it together properly. Cloud-based is best, with integrated systems that you should try before you buy. Ask yourself the right questions. Do we need this? Is it more effective to outsource? Is it something I need to do myself? And use the right vendors from the start.
Lastly, if you’ve already got a half-functioning monster, it may be worth shutting down some systems and rebooting with Suitless to make a better version of your back office.