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The Jetsons didn't lie – Automation is everywhere

My two favourite shows as a kid were The Flintstones and The Jetsons. One gave me a humorous take on where we had come from, and the other gave me what seemed to be a far-fetched view of where we’re going. Just 20 years on and I’m not so sure that Hanna-Barbera Productions had it so wrong.

Having recently built a smart home, the amount of tech that’s in there would have made Steve Jobs feel like a kid in a candy store. I can walk through my house with the lights and music following me, my favourite radio station plays when it knows I’m home, and the news comes on when I wake up. Thermostat choices are automated depending on the weather and who’s home, I can let tradies in while I’m at a conference in Australia, and the security system keeps all this tech safe and sound. Sure, we aren’t living up in the clouds, and to get a Sunday roast meal I can’t just swallow a pill. But our robot vacuums and self-cleaning ovens would have Rosey the Robot almost out of a job.

This all sounds awfully lazy and unnecessary, but in our modern, busy, stressful lifestyles, we could all do with a few extra minutes in the day, and a few less things to think about, and automation has really come to the party.

So how can you make the most of this digital age when it comes to running a business? Sure, you have everything at your fingertips now that smart phones are an essential part of life, but there are still those mundane, time consuming manual tasks to do that add little to no value to your business.

At Staples Rodway Taranaki, we’ve been hunting out the best products to use to cut down on unnecessary admin time. Through that process, one product stood out as having huge potential, so a few of our staff started testing. The next thing we know, we’re saving 2-4 hours a month per client on their bookkeeping tasks, and as the system learns more, we envision even further gains. This seemed too good to be true, so we released it to a handful of clients to test it, and the results were just as good.

So how does it work?

Using artificial intelligence (AI) including machine learning, over time this product knows exactly how to code your transactions and will automatically raise the necessary invoices or bank transactions in your accounting systems, such as Xero. On top of this, all backup documentation is attached to the transaction, ready for your accountant to view if needed. These documents are also made text-searchable so looking up old documents when you can’t remember who you bought a product from becomes much easier. When it’s time to reconcile your accounts, you simply click ok to confirm the match. Think about that for a second. No more hunting out the bill, adding it to Xero, coding the transactions and filing the hard copy. Sound familiar? There are similar systems in operation already, however those are either at a very basic level, or there are people sitting at a computer in another part of the world reading and coding for you which can be an expensive option.

The product also has another point of difference. Using connections with your providers, it can sync with your online banking and supplier accounts to automatically fetch data when it is available. So, for bank statements, RWT certificates, or bills that aren’t emailed to you in a PDF format, this product has no issues fetching the data. Think of how many times your accountant has asked you to send in statements – this becomes a thing of the past.

If you’re not on Xero, that’s fine – this product syncs with many other software systems, or it simply becomes a place to store all your documents rather than the standard shoe-box filing system we’ve all come to know so well, along with the benefits of text search and automatic-fetching.

Ready to throw out the paper and sign up? Hold tight – while widely used throughout Australia and North America, it’s not officially released in New Zealand yet. But Staples Rodway have been working closely with the developers since August 2018, so we can get your accounting processes automated right now.

If you’ve been resisting the automation movement, join the club. Many of us were wary of it, but after seeing the benefits there’s just no going back – so it’s time to look to the future and get your weekends and late nights back to do the things you really want to do.

If you’re not sure how AI and machine learning can help your business processes, we can show you the way. We’ll take small steps to begin with – such as simple email automation rules to help organise your customer communications and bills; or perhaps software to help with job costing, turning quotes in to bills or forecasting cashflow. Whether you just want to get rid of a single annoying task, or completely flip your processes upside down, we’ve got a team of people who can help. Get in touch today: Email: kylie.filbee-cronin@staplestaranaki.co.nz

So, it's time to decide - are you on team Flintstones, or Jetsons?

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