Softworks Blog

Numbers may be everything but information is key for accountants today

Posted by Oliver Mitchell on Tue, Jan 10, 2017

Accountants deal with numbers all day, every day. It’s a fact of life as an accountant, whether it’s a book-keeper for a sole trader or a CFO for a large PLC, numbers are everything in this role.

We analyse the numbers, we test the numbers, we double check the numbers, we maintain them and finally we report them.

In all of that work and apart from the reporting techniques and parameters, we don’t try to affect them. They are the reality, they are the real financial snapshot of where a business is at in any given moment.

The modern day accountant is not just a number cruncher any longer. Of course that’s still the primary role, but it’s no secret that now more than ever companies are tapping into the other attributes that accountants typically have to help them in other areas of their business. An understanding of the intricate relationships between their activities and each financial aspect of them enables an accountant to have a very broad perception of a company.

Financial information.jpg

There is a saying that ‘Money is everything’, and who understands money better than an accountant? After all, that’s what a majority of their day is spent working with. But maybe the word ‘everything’ in that saying is more about the ability to have an influence on everything within the business as a whole.

Numbers don’t grow by themselves. It takes a team of people to make a business tick; Sales, Marketing, Production to name but a few and within each of these areas’ accountants can add something of value. It might not be a game changer, it might not result in doubling of profits, but then that’s not an accountant’s function. We’re not the specialist in every field, usually just in one, but, within that field of expertise there is a chance to be unique from any other function and make contributions to every facet of a company. A review of a sales structure, a tweak of payments terms, efficiency exercise on costs, it all adds up.

Softworks solutions can operate as another tool in the armoury of an accountant. Yes it provides timesheets, rostering solutions and absence requests but it also provides information on specific activities within every aspect of a business in the form of time expended and its related cost and who better to analyse these numbers and identify ways to make improvements than an accountant.

Topics: Accountants, Performance, Timesheets

The Key to a Happy Workforce

Posted by Nadine Walsh on Mon, Feb 2, 2015

 

happy workforce

 

We all know that saying, find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life. There's nothing I would like more than for everyone I know to be working in a job they love, in a field they are really interested in, surrounded by supportive, talented co-workers. I am generally a positive thinker but the harsh reality behind that statement is that we have bills to pay, the job we love isn't always that easy to find and we all know every office has a nuisance (or two). There are a number of simple steps that will help you on your way to a happier workforce. This one is for you managers, CEOs, presidents and everyone else in charge of someone else's working day. Implement the ideas below now and I promise you will see a difference.

 

1. Introduce Flexitime.

Its 2015. Our lives are crazier and busier then ever. As it is, most of us spend 25% of our week at work and 34% sleeping leaving just 41% of your week to do the things you like. Plus or minus a family, hobbies, exercise, eating we really are short on time. Just the other day I wanted to kill my Iphone. Just this one device allows me to communicate in over 10 different ways; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Viber, Imessage, text message, email, call, Facetime... Yes I am ranting but my point is that there is more to life then work, however much we like our job. It will make such a difference to everyone if they can leave ten minutes earlier so that they can make that appointment or take an extra long lunch if its been a particularly stressful day. Remember that your workplace is made up of people, not machines. Being honest, we could all use a bit more flexibility in all areas of our lives so the workplace is a good place to start.

2. Celebrate Moments and People.

If somebody has been in the building for 20 years today, why not send a mass email to all staff and congratulate and thank them. They are choosing to be here and they wouldn't still be here if they weren't important to your company! Something I love about working at Softworks is that there are so many people working here that unless we were obesity advocates, we couldn't possibly have a cake for everyone's birthday. With that in mind our CEO introduced "cake day" where once a month we get in an array of buns and cakes and enjoy them together. Its definitely in the little things, and there is a great sense of fun round the office once everyone realises it's "cake day".

3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

There is nothing worse than your job taking over your life. I remember years of working in restaurants and the problems the messy schedule brought. I knew I had to get out of the shift work world when I had to miss an award ceremony where I was actually receiving a prize because my manager wouldn't let me reschedule my shift. I also missed birthdays of loved ones, my own birthday and lost a few friends because it. For people like nurses, doctors and many more escaping the 24 hour roster isn't ever going to happen. Set up a system where if needs be co-workers can do a swap. A disappointed and sulking worker is of no benefit to anyone.

4. Hand Over the Power

I cannot stress how important I think Self Service is. Employees, in my opinion should always have access to their own records. I want to be able so see how many hours overtime I have done, I want to check my holiday balance and I want to know how many times I was late or early this month without having to ask HR who will usually pass comment or wonder why I am asking. Don't get me wrong I think every company; big or small should have a HR department. A great HR team is fundamental to every successful company but my roster and my holiday details are the business of my manager and I. Get rid of the middle man.

5. Time to be on Time

We all have great intentions. You all know that amazing feeling when you come out of a productive meeting feeling all motivated because you and your team brainstormed tons of great ideas that could really work. Then you look back on the minutes of the meeting a month or two later no progress has been made and most of the ideas have been tossed aside and forgotten about. Start tracking your projects. Once the whole team can see on a shared screen what needs to be done and who needs to do it, the project will be done in no time. Set a deadline, make a task list, assign responsibility and get on with it. A great idea should never be let slide.

 

I would love to know your tips too! Feel free to share

Best,

Nadine

Topics: Time & Attendance, Workforce Solutions, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Labour Scheduling, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Working From Home, Rostering, Working Hours, Performance, Happy Workers, The Key To a Happy Workforce

How to keep Generation Y engaged in 2014

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Jan 7, 2014

First there was talk about Baby Boomers, then we heard about Generation X and today’s conversation is focused firmly aound Generation Y.  So who are this generation and why is it going to be so important to keep them engaged in the workplace now and in the future?

Generation Y generally refers to people who were born between the late 70s and 80s although the group is sometimes expanded to include all those born between the late 70s and 2000. When it comes to defining a generation, the boundaries are quite loose.  The point is, Generation Y are now all grown up and are set to become a significant force within the workplace and keeping them engaged could be key to your company's success or otherwise. 

Certain traits have emerged that are distinguishing this generation from previous generations. One of the most significant differences between generation X and Y cited, is that  generation X are often seen as the “abandoned generation” or "latch-key kids" due to the fact that they were raised at a time when both parents had to work so they had to fend for themselves.

Generation Y, on the other hand, are often considered to be the most parented generation in history. They are also the largest generation of youth in history being three times larger than Generation X.  Generation Y includes terms such as Millennials, the Net Generation and the Trophy Generation (due to the tendency for kids in this demographic to get trophies from activities regardless of their actual achievement levels!)

Generation Y resized 600

Generation Y are idealistic, digitally-enabled, social and ambitious and research tells us they are likely to have a distinct set of characteristics and expectations from their managers.  The implications are that the management styles that may have worked for previous generations may not have the same impact or motivation factor for this generation.  

Due to the endless positive feedback bestowed on generation Y kids from their parents, the young adults of this generation tend to be extremely confident. They tend to enter the workforce with high expectations both for themselves and for their employers. They have higher salary expectations and unlike previous generations, they don’t overly fear losing their job, as they have had the luxury of bouncing from one job to another until they found one that suits. This lack of fear tends to make them more outspoken and less afraid of the boss than previous generations.

This generation is likely to "work to live" rather than "live to work". Working assists them to do the things they really want to do. They would rather an interesting job for less money that allows them plenty of time out of the office (or working at home/flexible working) rather than putting in 12-hour days for a six-figure salary. In summary they want engaging work with opportunity for change and growth. Both on a personal and professional level.  They expect instant feedback at work, in the same way they receive feedback in their personal lives via text messages or "likes" on Facebook.  They want work to be an enjoyable experience and if this experience can include working with their friends in a casual and fun environment – even better!

So if you are looking to engage this generation consider the following motivation and retention strategies for 2014...

  • Share the company vision – This generation will look for meaning and by explaining your company vision you will give them a clearer sense of purpose.
  • Give encouragement and regular feedback – honest supportive feedback will go a long way; they have received this from a young age and continue to receive it via Facebook etc.
  • Coach rather than manage – Generation Y need to feel they are learning, and they especially appreciate being coached.
  • Offer more flexibility – Work life balance ranks high on their agenda. To Generation Y-ers, a 9-5 shift can seem like a prison sentence!
  • Stretch the comfort Zone - Generation Y people welcome new challenges.  
  • Provide education and professional development - Facilitating their continuing education and hobbies will go a long way towards keeping them happy and engaged
  • Promote team cohesiveness and social interaction - Team loyalty is a key tool for motivating and retaining Generation Y members who enjoy working in a team environment.
  • Give time for personal projects – Offer time to work on personal projects as this keeps them engaged and can also boost innovation within your business.
  • Set multiple tasks and goals in a structured way - They are excellent multi-taskers and enjoy variety at work.
  • Allow time for social causes – Generation Y feel responsible for making a difference in the world and like to give back via volunteering, supporting charities etc. Support them by allowing some flexibility in their hours to facilitate. It's good for them, it's good for your business and it's good for the world in general :)

Topics: Jobs, Employee Retention, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Work-Life Balance, Flexible Working, Working From Home, Motivation, Performance, Generation Y

The True Cost of Employee Time and Attendance

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Nov 19, 2013

By Oliver Mitchell, ACA

‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’ and there are many ways to record and track the cost of time. Whether it’s sitting in traffic, standing in a queue, waiting for a computer to load or simply sitting idly watching TV, almost every minute of your day has a cost that can be applied to it. It is all well and good accepting these unseen costs in your everyday tasks, it’s a given really, just part of your daily routine and most of us don’t give it a second thought. However, when it comes to the workplace, where employee’s get paid to be, it really should be a different story.

Of course, some employer’s don’t pay too much attention to the cost of time. Employees are hired for a specific role and work the hours agreed in their contract - for example 9 to 5. However so much has changed in how and when we want to work, more and more organisations are realising the benefits of measuring tasks completed rather than hours worked.  Employers record how employees spend their time throughout the day, recording individual tasks over set time intervals. These types of companies have a very good handle on the true cost of time and have excellent visibility of where efficiencies can be harnessed and real savings achieved on an on-going basis.

 

Profit and loss

Over the years, there have been countless studies conducted to try to apportion a cost to any particular activity in the workplace, and there have been multiple methodologies devised to track and record the cost of an activity. Suffice to say, that a great starting point for any company that really wants to get valuable information and reports in relation to their true cost of time, is to start tracking their employee’s time and activities. It doesn’t have to be an onerous or cumbersome task, nor does it have to be seen as an authoritarian approach, the introduction of timesheets and time recording has come on leaps and bounds since the early days of time tracking. The clock on the wall approach whilst still in place has evolved into detailed reporting and analysis, web clocking, absence management, flexi-time and even allowing employees to manage their day through self-service time and attendance management while at the same time promoting and supporting a work life balance. In a lot of cases it can often be seen as a plus point in today’s workplace and if implemented and communicated sufficiently, time and attendance systems can be of a huge benefit not only to the company but also to the individual employee who has more control over their working hours.

Not only will a modern Time & Attendance system provide managers with a real time view of their designated workforce, team calendars, rosters and much more. It will also allow for detailed and specific reporting over a huge variety of information at various levels from employee all the way to the MD and has been proven to drive efficiencies and save payroll costs by up to 5% of an organisations total labour cost. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s certainly more than one way to evaluate and assess the true cost of time, but for any company the best starting point should be gaining a true understanding of how their workforce – their biggest cost and biggest asset spends their time.

Topics: Time & Attendance, Workforce Solutions, Flexitime / Flexible Working Hours Arrangement, Work-Life Balance, Accountants, Performance, Business Processes

The team that eats together stays together...!

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Thu, Sep 5, 2013

We've all heard the advice that the "Family that eats together stays together". The experts say it assists with bonding, communication, healthier eating habits and a time for learning. Being a mum, I totally get all this. I’ve been listening and heeding every bit of advice I’ve got from fellow parents, websites and the collection of books under my bed that I’ve assembled over the years.

But I never thought about how this could work in a work setting. Our support department however appear to be well up on the benefits. Meet Adam, he’s from Softworks Support, there he is cooking breakfast for the team on the Softworks balcony!

What a great way to start your workday with your colleagues……Anyone for a sausage…  :)

 

Adam on BBQ resized 600

Topics: Softworks, Motivation, Performance

How the latest Workforce Management Solutions can assist Operations

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Mon, Apr 15, 2013

We have just published a new white paper that examines, how the latest in workforce managment solutions, can assist COOs and Operations Directors. The paper is free to download

Modern Workforce Management Platforms, build a bridge between the operational and the strategic elements of a business which is why they have become so important to assisting senior operations executives with their business challenges. They can assist companies of all sizes to increase operational efficiencies, reduce labour costs and attract and retain skilled workers leading to a more profitable business. 

Operations Directors

In this paper we will look at the the multi-faceted and challenging role of the COO/Operations Director that includes responsibility for; business processes & operations, strategic planning & execution and driver of efficiency, and how WFM Solutions can assist in this all-encompassing role. Following this, we look at how modern WFM solutions, are driving operational and business performance and profitability, by striking a balance, between the needs of the business and the needs of the employee.  Finally, we reveal why the latest in WFM technology is key to the future success of organisations and why today’s most senior operations executives are getting involved if not leading WFM projects. 

You are very welcome to download this paper via this link

 

Topics: Time & Attendance, Project Manager, Workforce Solutions, Labour Scheduling, Performance, Operations

It’s just simple maths…don’t ignore it

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Tue, Jan 22, 2013

Oliver

By Oliver Mitchell, ACA

It baffles me that despite all the talk across the globe in recent years of spending cuts, budget constraints, slimming margins and so on, that companies still neglect to consider the effect of properly managing their workforce. To those that have recognised this and are actively engaging in the effective management of their workforce, this blog may not be for you as you’ll have already seen the improvements in workflow processes, employee attendance and often staff morale amongst other things… although by reading on, you may just learn something new or simply reaffirm your decision to implement workforce management tools.

However, for those of you on the fence:

Here’s the simple part! By implementing effective workforce management software, you can determinably set about saving your business money, whether it’s by intelligent management of staffing requirement rosters or real-time monitoring of employee absenteeism and sick leave there is no denying that workforce management software can streamline processes and save time and money. For example, a simple 1% reduction in absenteeism levels in a company with 1,000 employees would purport to save in the region of €350,000 per year. Similarly, reducing overpayment errors by 15 minutes per employee would save approximately €1,000,000 a year. It’s worth pointing out that an effective and top end workforce management solution would only cost a fraction of this, resulting in real, measurable savings that can contribute straight to your bottom line margins.

Workforce Management Solutions

There are a number of other interesting workings and calculations that you can explore by downloading our free white paper ‘How efficiencies & consolidation could shave up to 5% off your payroll’ here

Of course, without the right tools in place, it’s impossible to accurately determine the level of payroll errors and over-staffing within your workplace. By selecting the right workforce management software, you can collate and strategically analyse all the relevant data to enable better decision making and ultimately, operate a more effective and efficient workforce.

Don’t sit on the fence any longer, get in touch with Softworks today to find out more

Thanks for reading!

Further blogs from Oliver Mitchell


Topics: Time & Attendance, Payroll, Workforce Solutions, Labour Scheduling, Softworks, Accountants, Performance

From The Boxing Ring to the Boardroom…

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Aug 15, 2012

Softworks Irish staff was treated to a bird’s eye view of Katie Taylor's return to Ireland this week with her coveted Olympic gold medal. Softworks head office is based in the seaside town of Bray and Katie is a well-known local and extremely popular celebrity. There was huge excitement here during the Olympics and we were delighted to view her return from our office balcony, where she gave us our very own wave – Thanks Katie!

 Katie Taylor Waves to Softworks Staff resized 600

So what’s next for Katie? She is undoubtedly at the top of her boxing game and we also know that she is a very talented soccer player, but has she considered the board room? According to a new paper from Ernst & Young, Sport is leading the way in improving gender equality in business by challenging sexist stereotypes.

The white paper, High achievers: recognizing the power of women to spur business and economic growth, focuses on the foundation that women have established in sports; the impact they are now making in all segments of business and society; and the work that remains. It also examines the anticipated impact of women as the largest emerging market in the world, with women’s global incomes growing from US$13 trillion to US$18 trillion in the next five years – that incremental US$5 trillion is almost twice the growth in GDP expected from China and India combined.

Beth Brooke, Global Vice Chair of Public Policy at Ernst & Young, comments: “How can we harness the immense potential of women for the improvement of society and the economy? Supporting their participation in sports and education, leading initiatives that increase their presence in senior leadership and on corporate boards, and helping them to start and grow their companies, are a few ways to level the playing field.

“As we celebrate this year’s Games and athletes, and look toward the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, we must continue to foster the growth of one of the world’s most promising emerging markets: women.” You can get more information about this report here

Whatever you decide to do next Katie, we have no doubt you will have continued success and from all at Softworks we wish you well.

Good luck Katie Taylor resized 600

Topics: Women In Business, Motivation, Performance

It’s Official - Stocks Perform Better if Women are on Company Boards

Posted by Mairead Walsh on Wed, Aug 8, 2012

Women on boards

Companies with women on their boards perform better in challenging markets than those with all-male boards in a study suggesting that combining genders may moderate risky investment moves and increase return on equity. The number of women in boardrooms has grown since the end of 2005 as countries such as Norway instituted quotas and companies including Facebook Inc. added female directors after drawing criticism for a lack of gender diversity.


The latest research, from Credit Suisse, shows a greater correlation between stock performance and the presence of women on the board after the financial crisis started four years ago. The study analyses the performance of close to 2,400 companies with and without female board members from 2005 onwards.The key finding is that, in a like-for-like comparison, companies with at least one woman on the board would have outperformed stocks with no women on the board by 26 per cent over the course of the last 6 years. 

There is however, a clear split between relative performance over 2005 to 2007 and the post 2008 performance. In the middle of the decade when economic growth was relatively robust, there was little difference in share price performance between companies with or without women on the board. Almost all of the outperformance in the back-test has been delivered post 2008, since the macro environment deteriorated and volatility increased. In other words, stocks with greater gender diversity on their boards generally look defensive: they tend to perform best when markets are falling, deliver higher average ROEs through the cycle, exhibit less volatility in earnings and typically have lower gearing ratios.


Giles Keating, Head of Research for Private Banking, noted: “Unique in its scale and global reach this study contributes to the robust debate surrounding the importance of gender diversity and boards. Working with several experts on the topic including Professor Katherine Phillips, Columbia Business School, this study goes beyond the data to explore why gender diversity matters.“


Why Do Women on the Board Enhance Performance?


The report identifies seven key reasons why greater gender diversity could be correlated with stronger corporate performance:


(1) A signal of a Better Company
(2) Greater Effort across the Board
(3) A Better Mix of Leadership Skills
(4) Access to a Wider Talent Pool
(5) A Better Reflection of the Consumer Decision Maker
(6) Improved Corporate Governance


You can read more about this report here

Topics: Women In Business, Performance