Description

The Daily Grind features blogs that concentrate on issues affecting offices across the country. The goal is to enlighten, amuse, and interact with our followers.
Please feel free to submit comments, questions, and ideas at any time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Check Your Invoices Carefully

Improperly managed invoices can result in extra charges and unnecessary expenses.  Here are six tips on checking your invoices to help you start the year off right.  

1. Check the Print

Misplaced decimal points, typos, incorrect sub-totals, and mistaken quantities can add up to a lot of money in additional charges for any business or organization.  Make sure you are paying the total amount due, not the unit price for the product or service.  Some companies offer discounts or penalties for payments remunerated along an extensive timeline.  Note the dates and prices correlated with this timeline.  The highest amount is not always the actual total due.

2. Late in the Game

Mismanagement of invoices can lead to overspending through expensive late fees and high interest charges.  To assist in proper management, make sure the due date of each invoice is clearly marked on a calendar (unless bills are paid upon receipt).  Provide sufficient amount of time for mailing and processing to avoid missing the due date.  Monthly invoices should be recurring items on your calendar with an easy addition for those claims that are irregular such as equipment repair invoices.

3.  Early to Rise

Take advantage of early payment options if the discount offered is greater than the capital gained from interest baring accounts.  Many companies offer this incentive to avoid late fees on their invoices due for the services they provided your organization.

4.  Don’t pay Twice

Misplacement of invoices can result in duplicate billing, or other penalties.  It is imperative to properly organize bills and keep them in order.  Once payment is made, make sure the following information is appropriately tracked: check number, amount paid, associated reference number, and date paid.  The same information should be noted if payment is organized in a spreadsheet or with digital software.  If paper files are stored, attach a copy of the payment (check) to a copy of the original invoice and follow up by attaching the payment receipt if one is received.

5.  The New Age – Tech Savvy

Lacking a proper online-bill-pay method can increase expenses through supplies and postage costs.  Some companies send both electronic and paper bills, some only send one.  Beware of duplicates and make sure cleared invoices are properly marked to avoid double payment.  If the majority of bills are organized online, don’t set aside paper payments that come via mail.  To eliminate confusion and unpaid bills from being misplaced, make sure all online invoices are sent to the same email account or direct checking account.

6. Press 0 for the Operator

When uncertain, get on the phone and ask questions.  This might seem like a waste of time, but if this process brings clarity, it is worth the investment.  Note names of individuals you speak with for later reference if questions surface again.

Careful review of each repair invoice can help to detect overcharges, billing errors, and duplicate invoice numbers.  Find a system that works for you and be aware of these mishaps to avoid unnecessary expenses.  Check invoices twice, pay them once, and save money! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ten 2010 New Years Resolutions for Managing Equipment

The New Year marks the time to evaluate personal and corporate productivity in order to establish goals and incentives to get the year off to a positive start. Each year businesses waste valuable time and money by not managing their equipment properly. Below are ten steps that you can take to control and reduce equipment costs.

10. Inventory Equipment

Take an inventory of your equipment and create an asset list if you do not already have one. Start the year with a clear understanding of the equipment you currently own and lease, its age, and location. Evaluate whether the equipment serves its purpose and meets your expectations.


9. Equipment Location


It is important to know the location of equipment owned by your company and inspect its usage. In many cases, some equipment is being overused resulting in increased breakdowns and repairs while other pieces of equipment are hardly being used because of the location within the office. Evaluate what type of equipment is needed for each department and rearrange equipment accordingly. For example, some departments may need three printers because of all the documentation they filter through, while other departments only need one printer because they do the majority of their work online or via email. Different makes and models of equipment may be more efficient in certain areas of your business too depending on how it’s being used. If a color printer is accessed by more individuals on one end of the building then the other, that printer should be closer to those who use it. Sometimes equipment is broken and has never been repaired resulting in a surplus of equipment. It is always worth the time and energy to explore alternative equipment locations because changes in productivity and usage may become considerable overtime.


8. Purchase Equipment


Your equipment may be serving its purpose, but there may be newer, more sophisticated and more cost effective options to be utilized based on your specific needs. If your productivity is decelerating due to lack of upgrades in equipment, it is important to trade old equipment for new to assure production goals for 2010 are being met. New equipment doesn’t need to be brand new; it can be new to your company by utilizing refurbished equipment at a lower price.


7. Disposing of Old Equipment


Discard any unused and broken equipment, equipment that can no longer be maintained due to its age, or equipment that should be replaced with more effective equipment. Properly recycle old equipment, or to receive a tax write off, donate old equipment to one of the following organizations: 






Old computers can be donated to one of the non-profit organizations listed below: 










6. Organize Current Service Agreements


It’s easy to misplace or misfile service agreements. Take time to find all your service agreements and categorize them by equipment type and expiration dates. Consider scanning contracts onto your computer so you have electronic files instead of paper files.


5. Warranties


Familiarize yourself with equipment that is still under warranty, and what those warranties include. New equipment typically includes a one to two year warranty or guarantee that provides information on repair or replacement in the event that equipment fails during the warranted timeframe. Each warranty is unique; timelines are different and certain parts may or may not be included. With distinctive inclusions, it is important to acquaint yourself with each warranty to prevent significant financial loss in the event that equipment does malfunction. Furthermore you don’t want to have to pay for repairs or parts that are under the manufacturer’s warranty.


4. Vendor Performance Evaluation


Evaluate the quality of the vendors you are using. There are numerous vendors. Find a vendor that will suit your expectations and guarantee proper repair.  Don’t forget to ask for references, and don’t settle for the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) for repairs. Find some you are comfortable working with. Evaluate your vendor’s based on what is most important to you:
  • Are you satisfied with their response time?
  • Do they clean up after themselves?
  • Are they courteous?
  • Are their invoices accurate?
  • Do they answer your questions clearly? 


3. Preventative Maintenance


Schedule Preventative Maintenance (PM) for the year to thwart unexpected breakdowns and extend equipment lifecycles. Once PMs have been planned and service reminders set up, you can focus on more important issues as they arise.


2. Green Initiative


Become environmentally friendly through your equipment maintenance by using less energy. Request that staff members turndown their computers, printers, fax machines, copiers, and other more sophisticated equipment at night. Turning equipment down when not used saves money and the environment, but it also helps extend the lifecycle of the machine entailing greater savings in the long run.


1. Equipment Asset Management


Implement an Equipment Maintenance Management Program and you will receive the following benefits: 


  • Maintenance costs reduced by 10 to 22%
  • Contract management of equipment maintenance portfolio
  • Equipment maintenance reports and maintenance management reports available 24/7 through “Remi Online”
  • Extended useful life of all equipment assets by ensuring proper maintenance
  • Relieve staff from unnecessary hassles in managing equipment service vendors, service contracts, and related paperwork
  • Annual renewal date with a “capped” yearly maintenance budget
  • Choice of service provider



Now it’s time to establish a plan on how you will spend your savings in the upcoming year.


Happy New Year!