Strategy, Legal & Operations

Small talk with Peter Jones: How to free up time to make smarter business decisions

In our Small Talk series, we delve into how your business can tackle some of the many challenges you face so you can elevate your performance.

Peter Jones, our Sage customer for life, sat down with interviewers Nina and Jed to talk about what you can do to ensure your business can perform at its best.

Plus, there are a few challenges that Peter was set by his intrepid interviewers. Watch the video to see how he got on and below is a transcript, followed by some advice on how you can make smarter business decisions.

Nina: We’re here to talk about automation.

Jed: What is automation anyway?

Peter: I’ll tell you what it is. So automation in a business is, how do you get all of the processes and things you do, and how do you get them on to a computer, run by a piece of software that just produces the reports for you. Like your tax return, all of those sorts of things.

You don’t have to worry about it. You can go off, do all the things you want to do, have chats with people in the office, instead of having to worry about it and sit there, and manually write everything down on a piece of paper.

Now, I’ve automated all of that. I don’t ever have to do that again.

So, all of those big packs of files that I used to have in my office, I don’t have them now. They’re all up in the cloud somewhere.

Nina: How can businesses make things automatic to help them get better?

Peter: Well they’re going to save so much more time if they’ve got automated processes. So if they’ve got everything up into the cloud, and all of the things that they have to do, then it makes life so much easier for them.

They’ve got more time. More time to do things like make phone calls to get new customers in.

More time to actually talk to staff, find out what their problems are.

And more time to go and have chats with your friends about how Newcastle did at the weekend.

You can save thousands, tens of thousands of pounds, just by being automated in a business.

Jed: Don’t you make that, like, every hour, though?

Peter: Well, I wish I did. I wish I did. I don’t. I make a lot more than that.

Jed: Right, then.

Nina: Well, back to fun things. Ok, so it’s us.

Peter: Us? You two?

Nina: Kids vs Peter. You.

Peter: Ok, I’m in.

[Peter, Nina and Jed are handed pencils and paper, and are given a maths puzzle: 7605 – 5900 = ?]

Peter: God, what?

Nina: Ready, steady, go.

[Nina and Jed race ahead and work out the answer before revealing it to Peter]

Nina: 1,705.

Peter: Yes. God, you’re quick.

Jed: Thank you.

Peter: Did you know the answer before?

Nina and Jed: No.

Peter: Really?

Jed: No.

Peter: Wow.

Jed: That’s a draw, then.

Peter: Draw? I’ll take that. I’ll take the draw.

Small talk with Peter Jones: Check out the rest of the series

Three ways to make smarter business decisions

Once you’ve freed up your time, with automation being one way to do that, you’ll have more room to make smarter business decisions. Here are three ways to do that.

1. Start with your KPIs

Begin by working out and being clear on your key performance indicators (KPIs). Next, you’ll need to select the analytics and data tools that will help you achieve them. And finally, stick to the KPIs across the business.

By taking these steps, you can keep everybody on the same page.

This will result in different teams working together rather than competing against each other. You’ll be measuring your data in the same way and using the results to keep improving.

2. Customise your reports

Accounting or financial tools designed to use your company’s data to provide insights are likely to  come with ready-made dashboards, reports and other analytics.

But choosing to create customised versions specifically for your needs may be more beneficial.

You could build a personalised dashboard with the specific metrics for your business health that you can view at any time and from anywhere – and across any device, be it mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.

3. Hunt out any inefficiencies

Think about the many processes that run your business. Just as a healthy mind needs a healthy body, executive decisions can only be helpful if the organisational structures that underpin them are primed for the times.

Take finance, for example. Antiquated behaviours used by accountants and businesses—desktop spreadsheets and handwritten bookkeeping—might get a job done, but not in a way that can compete on the same playing field as more forward-thinking alternatives.

Final thoughts on making smarter business decisions

Moving from data entry to data analysis – by automating manual tasks – is going to help your business in the long run. So work out which tasks you can automate, then you can put that freed-up time to better use.

When it comes to making smarter business decisions, it can be easy to collect every data point – but this won’t be efficient. Instead, think about what you need to know to make your business a success.

Consider your KPIs and what you’re measuring. Create your personalised dashboards and reports, then you can start tracking your progress and building the right insights.

And with the right information in front of you, you and your team can make the best decisions for the business.

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