Preparation pays off. Unless you’re fairly new to reading this newsletter, I’m sure you’ve witnessed my bragging about our staff. This year is no exception to their commitment to providing the best software and support experience possible to our customers.
Throughout 2015, Red Wing Software has been designing, programming, and refining functionality for our CenterPoint Payroll software to handle the reporting required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While our development and quality assurance teams did everything they could to make the new features work properly according to the legislation and make them as intuitive as possible, our technical writer and support team were preparing for implementation by our customers and making sure they had everything they needed to smoothly create and electronically file the reports.
This preparation included several documents that can be found in our help files/How2 Viewer, as well as notifying our customers about the need to file these new forms, and the information they needed to collect and enter into the software. It also included our notification of legacy payroll product users who, if they needed to comply with the new requirements, would need to migrate to CenterPoint Payroll, as our legacy products would not have ACA functionality.
Because of this effort, our busiest time of year has gone extremely smooth. In a matter of about ten business days, we were able to handle over 4800 support calls, with over 85% of those calls being handled as they came in, and with on-hold wait times being the lowest our customers have ever experienced.
We want to thank our customers for implementing the new requirements in a timely manner, which certainly helped reduce the calls during the first of the year. And, of course, it helps that we have the most dedicated staff in the galaxy.
Everyone in business realizes that their particular industry experiences certain times of the year that they are the busiest, and doing as much as possible to prepare ahead for the upcoming crunch-time makes for a smooth busy season. What can you do to prepare your business?
- Ken Hilton, President
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and any other holiday or special event celebrated this time of year.
I had a conversation with a prominent consultant in the accounting industry regarding best management practices for high growth business. This is a very timely topic for the first newsletter of 2016, as everyone in business should be considering how to make the new year more profitable than the last. While the conversation initially centered on accounting software, it quickly became clear the focus really revolved around systems and processes. Here are a few of the observations we discussed during our conversation.
The best software in the world (of course that means software from Red Wing Software) can’t fix broken processes. A business needs to identify what is important to them for analysis purposes, and then implement a system that provides that information. That may mean changing some internal processes, so data that is being collected is sufficient to get the results they’re after. Change in process is always a difficult thing to implement, but may be necessary to accomplish an ultimate goal. The way to make a change successful is to make the process as easy as possible for people to understand, inform them of the importance of the information, how it will be used (share results), and then enforce implementation. It normally takes sticking to a new daily routine for just a couple of weeks for it to become habit.
I know many people reading this newsletter have great systems in place already, and have coworkers that would argue that there is no better way to do things. I would argue that any time we start to believe that our business can’t improve each and every thing that it does, the business stops growing, and we all know that without growth the business will fade away. I challenge everyone to take a look at what you’re doing today, tweak something that will make your business better, and reap the rewards. Here’s to a successful, different, and more profitable 2016.
- Ken Hilton, President
I recently attended a festival at the local airport, where people from around the world displayed their artistic talents. I wanted to share one of the many photos I took, as they had just uncrated this beautiful carving of a Pelican standing on a piling. I had to take the photo from just the right angle so-as to hide the fact that everything in the photo, with the exception of the two young ladies on the right that appear to be standing on a stump, is actually painted on the flat surfaces of plywood.
I wanted to share this example of something that appears to be one thing if it is looked at from one specific angle when, in realty, it is something totally different if viewed from another perspective. When you analyze the information in your business, make sure that you look at it from more than just the one angle that makes it appear to be how you want it to appear.
On behalf of Red Wing Software, I want to thank all the brave men and women that are dedicated to keeping us safe and free. This is a special time of year for many people around the world. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a prosperous New Year to our customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.
If this information looks familiar, it’s because I repeat it every couple years and I think it’s so important. We are fast approaching the end of 2015, and I want to point out some important information that needs to be considered before year-end, or shortly after the beginning of a new year.
Even if your company operates on a fiscal year, there are a few things that may need to be considered to prepare for the new calendar year:
- How is your budgeting process going for next year? Will next year be the same as this year, or should you be planning some much needed changes to make it better?
- Have you installed all of the latest versions of your software? You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) wait until after the first of the year to get up-to-date. Doing it now saves pressure later.
- There are new Affordable Care Act reporting requirements for 2015 that need to be considered for many companies. Have you collected all the information needed to complete the forms? Did you know CenterPoint Payroll helps maintain this information and can fill in the forms and file them electronically?
- How about retirement plans, and other items important to you and your employees? It is harder now than ever to find good employees, and we need to remain competitive in the marketplace to keep them.
- It is a good time to remind employees to update their W-4 information for changes that have occurred during the year like getting married, having children, buying a house, or anything else that might change their withholding needs.
- How is your budgeting process going? Oh, did I already ask that? I read once that “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you already are.” Is it time for some changes?
So, update that important technology today, review procedures and policies, help employees be better managers of their information, and plan for the New Year.
- Ken Hilton, President
Instead of telling you what I think this month, I will just ask some questions to provoke some thought. I think you’ll likely know what I think by reading the questions I ask.
- Are you running your business, or is your business running you?
- Do you control the expenses in your business by operating from a budget, or do you operate by the “seat of the pants”?
- Do you have processes in place (and documented) for internal job functions, or do you assume everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing?
- You know that everyone in your organization has certain responsibilities. Have they been clearly communicated, and do the people in your organization know they have these responsibilities?
- Do you know the true cost of items that you produce or buy for resale, including indirect costs?
- Do you know what your most profitable items are and those items that are not so profitable and maybe should be discontinued?
- Do you know your businesses key financial ratios, what they mean, and where the danger levels are?
- Do you analyze the return on new asset purchases before the purchase has been made?
If you think you have good answers to all of these questions, ask them again. I challenge you to continually ask these questions throughout the year, and improve operations through better management. At Red Wing Software, we evaluate our position and try to answer these questions regularly. Once we think we know all the answers, we stop improving.
- Ken Hilton, President