At Sage Pastel we’re paying a lot of attention to accounting over the internet, and also to mobility, both of which are a direct benefit of cloud computing. We recognise that this is the most fundamental shift in how business is going to operate in the future. The move on-line is certainly one of the greatest changes the profession has faced in 20 years: for all of us, it spells the end of the traditional way in which we are used to interact with our clients.
Business owners who were early adopters of on-line accounting packages like our Pastel My Business Online are progressive, forward-thinking mavericks. They keep up to date with technology and they’re aware of just how easy cloud computing can make their lives. They’re attracted to on-line accounting because it allows them to manage the financial aspects of their business while they’re on the move, which is an essential part of doing business in today’s world. They want everything at their fingertips, and they want it now!
We must acknowledge that these business owners want an accountant who is as progressive as they are. And while these are the early adopters, make no mistake, widespread cloud computing is inevitable – the genie is out of the bottle and there is no putting it back.
As cloud computing changes the behaviour of your clients, so it will inevitably change yours. This is nothing but good news.
By now I’m sure you understand how working on-line increases your own efficiency (thereby increasing your capacity to take on more clients), so I’m not going to labour the advantages we’ve discussed before. Rather, I want to look at the macro-level changes, the most important being that you will be able to offer high-value services rather than billing for time spent capturing data.
On-line accounting gives you more time to move to high-value consulting, putting you in a position to empower your clients and help them grow their businesses through new added value functionality. The more intimately you know their businesses, the better positioned you are to act as a business advisor, providing constructive input relevant to their growth aspirations. I’m talking about providing value-added services like management reporting and reviews, and providing tax advice and structuring.
Being able to provide more strategic advice earns you trust at a higher level, giving you the greatest opportunity you’ve ever had to provide additional services. If your clients are not asking you about on-line accounting, you would be crazy not to be introducing it to them. I haven’t even mentioned how much more fun it is than manual accounting!
CONNECT OR DIE
Connectivity makes everything predictable, which allows us to get into the minds of our customers. It follows then that if we’re not connected, we’re not as in touch with our customers as we could be, which is why on-line accounting is do or die – you will get left behind if you’re not on-line.
Never before have so many efficiency tools been so available to you. These practical examples may help you make the shift towards a cloud-based application like Pastel My Business Online.
•Specifically designed practice management tools give you a real time bird’s-eye view of all your clients along with pertinent information for each one. This includes details such as date of year-end, due date of next VAT submission, notes, alerts and “in product communication” sent by clients via the software.
•Mobility tools allow your clients to log on from wherever they are for fully up-to-date views of their businesses, their customers and suppliers. They can check due and overdue tasks, process quotes and invoices, and then email them directly to their clients – all on the go using tablets or phones.
•Keep track of the various accounting or bookkeeping tasks you perform for each of your clients with the single or recurring task function.
•See an overview of the tasks and notes for each month or each day, receive timely reminders, and track status changes from “Not Started” through “In Progress” to “Completed”.
•Access bank accounts with automatic bank feeds, including multi-factor authentication accounts where on-line banking websites ask for additional one-time authentication on top of user credentials before you can access their websites.
•Keep track of spend with enhanced budget features and a profit and loss report with budget comparisons.
•Print copies of tax invoices, so that if a client loses or misplaces a tax invoice, you can issue a copy on which they will be able to claim tax, as it meets the requirements for claiming input tax. This is in accordance with SARS rules.
•Keep reporting more streamlined than ever before.
So yes, on-line accounting – cloud computing – will change the way you do your job. It will vastly improve the way your practice runs, your interaction with your clients and the speed and efficiency with which you handle them. What are you waiting for? ❐
Author: Steven Cohen CA(SA), is MD at Sage Pastel Accounting.