As accounting software gets around to delivering better processes it could be having a drastic shift on what you are doing. More to the point it should be creating a drastic shift on where you are spending your time. It should be enhancing the level of understanding, information and certainty you are now able to provide your business. It should be giving you more time to work on the business system and ensure that the business systems are working together seamlessly automatically and that they are able to provide the reports you need.
Every business system I touch at the moment is reasonably well built on the techniques and the systems of 5 (or more) years ago. How far we have come.
Those same state of the art 2010 systems now need to be brought up to the 2015/16 systems:
- Bank feeds used to reconcile the data that has happened in the system
- Purchase order systems
- Employee portals
- Email sales invoices
- Electronic payment gateways
- SuperStream enables super payments and reporting
For some reason we, who have been doing this for some time are constantly being told:
- to be a “Trusted Advisor”
- to provide “value add services”
But this is no different. We have always done this. Bookkeeping does extend from understanding the business, through setting up systems, processing transactions, checking the processing, validating the reports, ensuring compliance and providing information.
Nothing changes in the outcomes that we are delivering. What changes is the time allocated to what we do. Businesses always have kept a limit on the cost of bookkeeping and accounting. Thereby the professional bookkeeper can only afford to spend so much time on that business. Technology should enable far less of the budget, (the allocated time), to be spent on simply processing and what takes much of an accountant’s time verifying the processing.
Bank feeds should remove the mechanical tick and flick of bank reconciliation. For those that live in the old world of creating transactions from the bank records, bank feeds should automate the creation of transactions.
Bookkeepers can now spend more time checking the bank rules, checking for anomalies, chasing down the exceptions, providing increased compliance certainty to the business and provide enhanced information to the business.
“Most accounting firms generate less than 5% of their fees from things that aren’t compliance” is quoted time and time again.
This is not the fault of the accounting firm; it has been a consequence of poor technology and limited budget.
Business does not value accounting work, (or bookkeeping), highly enough to allocate sufficient resources to all the tasks that we might want to suggest to them. I am not for a moment saying they should do it themselves, it is a mental leap and then a monetary allocation for business to allocate sufficient funds to have the accountants and bookkeepers do what they could be doing themselves.
In the past, technology of the day meant coding bank statements, then data processing, entering cheques, rekeying invoices and redoing payroll records. The majority of the budget was consumed by simply getting the numbers in and then, if you were lucky, getting them to add up as well.
Now today’s technology means the numbers should be in and should already add up.
Our work should become checking that the numbers got in properly and then what should be done with the information that we now have the time to think about.
How do we make the mental transition so that we perceive we can allocate more of our value to the information?
In the past we have overcharged a business for data entry so much so that we then couldn’t afford to do the right work. Now technology is delivering that data entry for reduced cost so that we can spend more time on doing the right work. It’s not a different world, just a reallocation of your use of time.
How to transition?
Don’t decrease your fee but do increase your output. Provide more to the business. Offer more information, more observations and a greater level of certainty.
Begin to ask the business:
- What keeps you awake at night? What is it you don’t know about your business that you would like to know?
- What are the blockages to getting more done in the business?
- What things affect your performance?
- What information do you need to monitor their performance that will help them?
Then use your information to provide answers or insight into solving the woes of business.
As we increasingly become embroiled in this race to the cloud, remember:
Making the most of cloud tools boils down to understanding what each of them does, how they interconnect, and most importantly, how they map to the requirements of your clients’ businesses.