How to automate your business’s bookkeeping

We understand from many of our members that they are remarkably busy at the moment during the coronavirus crisis, dealing with the likes of furloughed employees and helping with government grant applications.

During this time of increased volume, those of you that have automated your processes already will (hopefully) be taking it in your stride.  If, on the other hand, you’re wishing your processes and systems were more efficient, this post covers some cloud products that I’ve found useful, that you could implement to help ease the pressure.  They save time and improve accuracy, both of which are valuable to you and your clients and importantly, allow you to seize opportunities and scale-up easily, as and when required.

In order for these to work for you and really make an impact on your business, it’s essential that you bring your clients on board with automation too.  It’s easy to persuade them as they will reap the benefits: data entry will be streamlined for them and for you, saving time and money for your clients.

Best accounting tools

There are two cloud accounting packages that are market leaders and used globally – Xero and QuickBooks.  These allow clients to send you a myriad of information, such as invoices, expenses and bank accounts, all of which are then processed by Xero or QuickBooks and transformed into your accounts.  I say ‘transformed’ but of course a little of your input is required too!

They do come with a charge but these charges can be absorbed by you or passed onto clients.  There are many other apps that can be used in conjunction with both systems too (once you get started on automation, you’ll be trying to make it even quicker all the time!)

Data entry systems

Once you’re signed up with Xero or QuickBooks, you need a way to receive the information from your clients.  By information I mean the majority of paperwork that you’re used to entering manually: invoices, expenses, receipts, bank statements and credit card statements.  The three systems that I’m suggesting below all have OCR or optical character recognition which means that they can extrapolate the required data.

  1. Receipt Bank
  2. Auto Entry
  3. Hubdoc

They all do the same thing but variables will be considerations like pricing, customer service and ease of use.  You need to think about your and your clients’ tech know-how and how much you’re willing to pay. I wouldn’t recommend having different systems for different clients as that is likely to become complicated so do some thorough research before signing up.  You don’t want these time savers to cause you a headache as that would really defeat the object.

Management accounting

With some of the more mundane aspects of your bookkeeping business taken care of, you can start to add value to your clients by helping them with their management accounting.  This is a great client offering at any time but it’s especially valuable now in times of uncertainty.  Numbers are fact and although you might not be able to predict the future, you can analyse clients’ businesses’ past performance to understand their customers’ behaviour, for example.  These tools will help you do that.

Fathom is a fantastic system that allows you to delve deeper into your clients’ numbers and assist in helping with key business decisions like enabling visibility on what impact a percentage increase in price would have on the business. The quality of the analytics is very good. Fathom have also introduced a product called “Advisory” which gives a platform for industry experts to share their views.  See below for my recent videos:

How bookkeepers can design and launch advisory services

Is bookkeeping undervalued and how can we change that

The changing role of bookkeepers and bookkeeping

What can bookkeepers do to help clients in the current crisis?

Why bookkeepers should look at their own business first

Why bookkeepers thrive in difficult times

Futrli is another great one.  From here you can identify trends and monitor cashflow as well as plan for certain scenarios. Both of these help you analyse cash flow which I know my team at Women Who Count have found invaluable when applying for government loans on behalf of clients.

All of these tools can be found in app form too which means that you and your clients can access information ‘on-the-go’.  Clients tend to love this as it removes the need for remembering to do something as they can add an expense, for example, immediately.

Gone are the days of long evenings for bookkeepers wading through paperwork!  These systems really bring bookkeeping away from the books and into the digital age, allowing you to add to what you offer, absorb more clients and hopefully find some work life balance.

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

Jim Rohn

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