Autumn is here and for some of us it’s that time of year to refocus on our businesses and look at how we can improve our performance and our profitability.
At Spark we understand all too well how small and medium size business owner managers can get overwhelmed with the constant toil of having to prepare and provide financial information in order to a keep a handle on how the business is doing. Inevitably we spend too much time ‘working in our business instead of working on the business’.
In this blog I’m highlighting how you can save time and gain extra peace of mind by utilising cloud technology to support accounting services.
Our potted history of accounting practice shows how the accountant and client relationship has developed over the decades and by embracing technology today allows us to gain a greater insight and understanding of our clients individual businesses than ever before.
I hope you find time to have a read and learn something that will, hopefully, be useful. Please get in touch if you would like to know more about how we can help.
How cloud technology has revolutionised financial accounting for SME businesses and their advisors.
A brief history…
For nearly half a millennium, from 1494 when Luca Pacioli first invented of ‘double-entry bookkeeping’ until the late 70’s, not much really happened in world of bookkeeping and accountancy – [oh, apart from the invention of the electronic calculator in the late 1960’s].
It wasn’t actually until the late 70’s, with the invention of the micro-computer that things started to change. Simple rudimentary spreadsheets were made possible by the early technology resulting in lower margins of error making the process of preparing accounts a much faster process.
In the mid 80’s technology truly took off and created a revolution in the way we work. The PCs became an everyday part of life, and no sooner had we proudly installed the latest new hardware and software technology into our offices, we need an upgrade – the groundbreaking Apple II was quickly superseded by the IBM PC and Microsoft Windows in turn superseded the IBM PC. Visicalc was superseded by Lotus 1-2-3 and then by Microsoft Excel. Accounting software packages from ACT and SAGE started to be used and by the late 1990s, PCs were used for accounting by most businesses in the UK.
20 years on and who would have imagined an accounts system that resides in a place called ‘The Cloud’, a place that gives access to information and dates online anywhere, anytime. Information such as client and supplier account profiles, staff time logs, project budgets all that can all be managed in ‘real time’. A place that can create and send automated invoices and statements and send notifications when clients have viewed and paid invoices online, where efficient purchasing is handled, even replacing the ‘receipts shoe box’!., that generates cash flow forecasts and produces bespoke reports and analysis. A place which can import information from a company’s online bank account, import your purchase invoices via a photo from your smart phone and link into online payment platforms such as PayPal and eBay. And which can even calculate your VAT and payroll –
‘Future facing’ accountancy…
So what benefit does cloud technology bring for the accountancy professional and the client? Essentially it means that the time traditionally expended on managing and producing a business’s financial accounts has been radically reduced. This technological advance has also rendered most traditional accountancy information-processing systems obsolete; the stereotypical ‘task-oriented’ accountant is now well and truly outdated.
The future-facing accountancy practices, like us here at Burnell & Co, are now able to develop and offer new value-added services for the benefit of our clients. By minimising the time-consuming distraction of the ubiquitous ‘end of month scramble’ to get the numbers crunched, accounts reconciled and the confusing spreadsheets prepared, we are now in a better position to work more closely and beneficially with our clients.
How we are helping our clients
Working alongside our clients as advisors, we are able to deploy our knowledge, and expertise into the many strategic issues that affect our clients and their businesses.
Here’s how we’ve helped some of our clients over the last 12 months:
- Accessing crucial additional finance via a crowd funding platform that has enabled a client to purchase another business which has in turn lead to rapid growth and the purchase of new business premises.
- Created a financially robust business plan and reporting model that has allowed a client to gain confidence in understanding their numbers and make key appointments to drive the business forward.
- Providing enhanced insight into a client’s customer base, resulting in a much better understanding of the key clients within the business and therefore improving their profitability.
- Resolving a long-standing, stressful cash-flow issue for a client, through an adjustment to their credit terms and the implementation of more efficient credit control procedures.
These are just a few examples of how, as a consequence of the application of cloud accounting, we’ve been able to provide more quantifiable help for our clients in more ways that ever before. In a nutshell, we like to think that by working with Burnell & Co, you as a client have a ‘critical friend’ that can, above all, offer you the reassurance and ‘piece of mind’ to deal with the tough challenges that inevitably impact on every business.
It has taken almost 500 years, from when Pacioli first invented ‘double entry book keeping’ to the start of the digital revolution. A revolution which has given birth to a technology that allows us to dramatically simplify the accountancy process and creates more space for the accountant to work alongside their client’s. We are more able to significantly contribute, in a quantifiable way, by supporting them in both setting and reaching their future objectives.
If you are not already using the cloud and have any questions about how cloud accounting can help your business please drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org.
… and in the interim, here are a few initial questions that you might like answered about the cloud:
8 key facts about cloud computing
- Isn’t cloud computing just the internet?
- You use the internet to connect your device to the cloud, but the internet is just the connection – the cloud is where your data lives.
- Isn’t it possible to lose your data in the cloud?
- Your data is actually much safer in the cloud than on your computer. Your computer can be stolen or corrupted quite easily, but cloud companies spend millions on systems and experts to protect your data.
- Isn’t the cloud an Apple product?
- Apple has a product called iCloud which uses cloud technology, but many other companies provide products in the cloud such as Google, Dropbox and Xero.
- Aren’t you stuck if the internet goes down?
- These days, the internet is like electricity – it’s very rare for it to go down and when it does you just have to wait a short time for it to be available again. In the meantime, all your data is safe in the cloud.
- Isn’t cloud computing just a fad?
- The cloud has been around for years and it’s only getting bigger. Internet banking started over 15 years ago. Now the technology is so fast and cheap that it’s being used for everything.
- Isn’t cloud computing expensive?
- It’s much cheaper because you only pay for what you use. You’re not paying for endless upgrades, system maintenance, support fees or additional hardware like backup systems.
- Don’t I lose control of my data?
- You actually have much more control of your data, since you can access, share and work with your info, anywhere, anytime, on any device. You also control who has access – which you can revoke in an instant.
- Isn’t the cloud only for tech people?
The cloud is much easier for everyone – you just log in and it works. Imagine: you don’t have to install files, worry about versions, or deal with patches and upgrades. Just log in.