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ipads and accountants

ipads and accountants

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Hello all.  Happy Friday to you.

The situation is as follows.  My wife has an ipad which I borrow often.  I'm a huge fan - not an Apple fanboy, but a fan nonetheless.  Recently I've been having my annual thoughts about getting one to help with my practice.  Not just for the email, calendar and to-do lists (keeping my schedule in one place is proving taxing for someone not-particularly-organised like me), but also for the following:

- moving online with my tax reference manuals (probably Bloomsbury)

- showing presentations to clients (I'm preparing a few for the most common questions I have, such as how sole traderships and limited companies differ etc - much easier to grasp with diagrams)

- more and more elements of my practice are accessible online (eg Xero) so mobile access is an advantage.

So, for those of you who have one or are thinking about it:

- Is it worthwhile or just an expensive toy (and hey, toys are ok.)

- Is a wifi option sufficient?  I was thinking about a PAYG SIM from O2 as a possibility for 3G access.

Thanks for your time,

WS.

Replies (32)

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By dialm4accounts
14th Jun 2013 09:10

I wouldn't be without mine

Hi there,

I'm not in practice, but I wouldn't be without my iPad mini.  It's so much lighter to carry than a MacBook or even a full-sized iPad, and does everything I need it to.

I do a lot of writing, which is made much easier by having a Bluetooth keyboard synced with the iPad mini (I touch-type, so I write very fast).

There are so many apps available these days that honestly the only thing I miss on the iPad is full Excel spreadsheets.

I had a WiFi-only iPad, and my iPad mini is 3G with Vodafone PAYG, though I'm thinking I may well switch to a different PAYG operator as I have to log into my account every time to start the 3G coverage, which is a pain!  I'd definitely recommend 3G over WiFi-only - not everywhere has WiFi, and free WiFi is vulnerable to hackers.

Go for it - you won't regret it!

M

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By Rachael White
14th Jun 2013 09:18

Yes!

From my experience, the iPad (or equivalent tablet) is a really worthwhile, handy piece of tech to have. 

And the best thing is, it can be used for work and as a toy - nothing wrong with that! 

If you're planning to be out and about, for example meeting clients, etc, then a 3G option is a good idea, as not everywhere has wifi and you don't want to be caught short. 

Many accounting software options are, as you've probably seen on Aweb, moving toward the cloud and the majority of which I've spoken to are including apps for tablet and mobile integration. 

Other general productivity apps like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Office (and PowerPoint presentation remote, which is very cool), tax rate apps, Hootsuite, tasklists, calendars and news make it even more handy, in and out of the office. 

Other members will have better input from an accountancy perspective, but that's my opinion from experience. :)

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By Pelican
14th Jun 2013 09:22

I am exactly like you.

 

I brought one for the wife but I have ended up using it most for my practice when on the move.

 

I brought a samsung galaxy tab 2 as you can do more on these than a lock-down apple product.

I purchased the wi-fi only one but with also owning an S3 phone I can tether that to get internet access on the tablet.

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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
14th Jun 2013 09:30

Probably a toy, but I like mine
I bought it through the business and even do a little bit of work on it sometimes.

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Replying to rogerlightfoot:
Giraffe
By Luke
16th Jun 2013 12:40

I like mine

0103953 wrote:
I bought it through the business and even do a little bit of work on it sometimes.

Exactly the same here! Handy though at times for showing backup papers to clients rather than drag the whole paper file out of the office.

I have wifi only but can tether to my phone if I need it. I haven't needed to do that many times though.

I like it, could I really justify it work wise? Not so sure to be honest.

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By zarathustra
14th Jun 2013 09:34

PAYG ?

Why PAYG? Surely if you want 3G, a contract would be better - free or cheap ipad then £25 - £30 per month has got to be the way to go.

 

EDIT : Agree with Pelican re Android.

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By GazCol
14th Jun 2013 11:48

Go WiFi only if you have a smart phone, as you can tether the WiFi connection of the iPad to your phone; which has a much better priced data plan.

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By wilcoskip
14th Jun 2013 12:39

Thanks to all for your useful comments.  I now feel justified in splashing out on one.

WS.

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By Tickers
14th Jun 2013 13:00

Doesn't work in practice

Sorry to rain on the parade here, but an iPad in a traditional practice just doesn't have the functionality and isn't compatible with the majority of windows based software which the majority of accounts prep and tax programs are designed for. I've considered getting an apple product for day to day use in practice but it's just not compatible. The only thing that you could use it for is email and viewing basic office docs but it is useless for any productivity. Maybe your in a position where you don't need the functionality and you have staff to do that for you but if you're completely honest with yourself, the only reason for getting an iPad for work purposes is because it looks good. 

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By wilcoskip
14th Jun 2013 13:09

Not true

I'm not overly concerned at all with the looks of the thing, and do think that the functionality would work for me.  My productivity happens at my desk, with IRIS etc.  More of my time is now being spent out and about (where email, calendar, to-do list etc would be useful) and in meetings either at my office or clients' premises where displaying presentations and quick review of documents would be enough.

My old laptop is dying, so rather than replace it the ipad would do nicely.  An Android device would also probably do just as well, but I'm familiar with my wife's ipad and know my way around the system, so would probably go with that.

WS.

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PAH Accounting Devizes Wiltshire
By Phil Hendy
14th Jun 2013 13:24

Gbooks

I have moved my accounts production to GBooks which is a web based platform.

Whilst it still has a lot to improve one key thing is that I can genuinely do accounts on the move. It was quite satisfying filing a set of accounts and tax for someone whilst I was in the car (passenger!) the other day!

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FirstTab
By FirstTab
14th Jun 2013 16:12

Best

I love my ipad. I wish I was not so tight and bought it far sooner. 

It is mainly used for emails, calendar and AW. Portability and the fact it powers up so fast makes it.

There are others uses I cannot recall. When it is not there - being charged I really miss it. 

I regret that I did not buy the 3G version. 

 

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By j.harris
14th Jun 2013 16:29

Ipad does nothing for me at all. Always look for a product that has Microsoft running through it myself.

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By JC
14th Jun 2013 16:44

Tether to mobile phone ....

Rather than go for the more expensive iPad

That way you only get charged once a month and not twice (mobile & iPad)

Found that iPad mini is more useful than full sized iPad

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By WhichTyler
14th Jun 2013 17:42

Giffgaff

If you want 3G, try a GiffGaff data only sim for £7.50/month (o2 network but cheaper).

 

And don't go for a contract; it's about 25% more over the 24 months and you can't sell the ipad if you don't like it/use it (or give it to your spouse & upgrade when the next one comes out...)

And if you like the advice you could order your sim here: http://giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/fgmj . No pressure!

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By Mouse house
15th Jun 2013 14:58

Love my iPad
I think I may love my iPad a little too much. I think it was the first thing I bought for the business when I started last year. Have to agree with First Tab, use it for emails, calendar and AWeb.
All my work stuff is hosted on a remote server so can also use it to do actual work if needed.
Note to OP - you are a lucky man, my husband is not allowed anywhere near my iPad!

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By petersaxton
14th Jun 2013 17:57

Lonely

I sit at my desk in my home office all day so I can't justify having a toy to put next to my mobile phone.

If I did get anything I would get something like a Microsoft Surface.

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By jaybee661
16th Jun 2013 16:36

... interesting debate...

... as I have an iPad but don't do a huge amount of work stuff on it... what sort of applications does everyone use for work?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
16th Jun 2013 17:05

Work on the iPad

jaybee661 wrote:

... as I have an iPad but don't do a huge amount of work stuff on it... what sort of applications does everyone use for work?

The only work I can really do on an iPad is deal with e-mails, Internet-based research and accessing documents via Dropbox.  At the moment, it is certainly no replacement for a proper computer, but does compliment the laptops that I have.

I find it a useful toy that I use many times every day, which has some limited work applications.

Microsoft Surface is an interesting development in trying to converge tablets and laptops, but I think even that is still a few years away from being something that could realistically replace a laptop for work.

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Replying to Macey:
By djn24
20th Jun 2013 11:53

ipad

0103953 wrote:

jaybee661 wrote:

... as I have an iPad but don't do a huge amount of work stuff on it... what sort of applications does everyone use for work?

The only work I can really do on an iPad is deal with e-mails, Internet-based research and accessing documents via Dropbox.  At the moment, it is certainly no replacement for a proper computer, but does compliment the laptops that I have.

I find it a useful toy that I use many times every day, which has some limited work applications.

Microsoft Surface is an interesting development in trying to converge tablets and laptops, but I think even that is still a few years away from being something that could realistically replace a laptop for work.

 

I agree with the above. I use the the Ipad for checking emails, surfing the net and simple work things etcbut as far as actually using it mainly for work, I can't see it being better than a laptop or PC.

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By John R
20th Jun 2013 13:08

Asus Google Nexus 7

I have an Asus Google Nexus 7 32gb 3g version which is Android. The big advantage for me is that it fits inside my suit jacket and also in my trouser pockets when not wearing my suit! I use it for emailing, texting (it doesn't work as a 'phone), internet research (the voice search is brilliant), photographing client documents (although this is a bit fiddly as it only has a front facing camera), note taking and work-related games - I often get stressed out at work and spending five minutes playing angry birds or the brilliant and addictive Simpsons "Tapped Out" soon returns me to sanity! I consider the usage to be 100% for business so the £239 price tag (Argos) is really only about £115 after VAT and tax relief are taken into account. Much cheaper and more convenient than an iPad!

 

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By PaulWK
20th Jun 2013 13:24

ipad and tax reference manuals

iPad or Android device is an excellent way to keep up to speed and on the move with your tax and accounting reference manuals. CCH Online is iPad/Android compatible reference resource and its content is updated daily. Live News on subjects that you choose are also redirected to your email in-tray ensuring you're always up to speed with the latest news. see http://tinyurl.com/paodzkz

 

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By pjd17mini
20th Jun 2013 13:29

Windows on Ipad..

Well Kind of..

We have moved the office to virtual servers running windows with all our usual software installed.

 

As far as the Ipad is concerned, an RDP connection (iTAP RDP is recommended) and bob's your uncle - full access to windows and microsoft desktop products and all the rest too.

If you're thinking of doing a fair bit with it, a bluetooth keyboard is very helpful, but the software makes it very easy to move about & use all the software.

P

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By microtutor1
20th Jun 2013 13:30

Using other programs

If you are out a lot at clients or at home and find it frustrating being unable to access your accounting programs and client data, then you could purchase a remote access App, such as Logmein, for the tablet to connect to your PC in the Office (and logmein can even switch on the PC remotely). 

That way you get the convenience and portability of the tablet combined with the reliability and full connectivity of your PC. You can connect the tablet either by wifi if available or 3G via your smartphone.

I even use logmein within the house to access my own PC in another room if I need to find something out without having to get up (lazy, I know, but useful if you don't want to miss the footie or other TV programmes!)

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
20th Jun 2013 13:33

Can it really replace a larger screen for full practice use?

We have an ipad but, as others have mentioned, I could never rely on it for full functionality in running the business.

I run everything hosted, or in the Cloud, but spend a lot of time with Iris practice management, accounts prep or personal tax open as well as Outlook and a spreadsheet or two and so, from a practical point of view, two full size screens are ideal or, if I'm in the garden or out and about I can manage with the quality of my lovely13" MacBook Air, certainly I can't imagine doing anything but communicating with an ipad, even if, like dialm4accounts above I invested in a separate keyboard.

The Mac (or a ChromeBook - see here) is about as small and neat as I can manage, but maybe I'm missing something to do with worsening eyesight or older fingers?

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By Jakarmi
20th Jun 2013 13:44

Kindle Fire

I bought an iPad for the business and then the kids took it over so I got a Kindle Fire instead.

Kindle Fire is about a third of the price of an iPad and if emails, internet etc is all you need then the Fire will do the job no problem.

Realistically, I could not never be as productive on the iPad/Fire than I could on a laptop or PC though but it's nice to pop up the email and gotomypc at home if things are needed.

 

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By harvs123
20th Jun 2013 13:56

iPad

The Companies House App is fantastic. We use it even when we are in the office as it's better and more functional than the desktop version. I also use the iPad for email and calendar etc. I can access my server remotely from it but to be honest it's rare that I do. My husband has not managed to even set his email up on his but has found an app that will keep him up to date with the cricket when he is in the office.

It's not a device you can really work on for any length of time (although I think a keyboard would help) but it's perfect as an organiser and for showing basic docs to clients. Apps such as Evernote which you can sync with all your devices are perfect for the iPad. I write notes and to do lists whilst having lunch or waiting for my son outside school etc and can then access them on my laptop later. I had Evernote on my phone previously but never used it because I found it too fiddly (needed new glasses!). I think that might be an issue with the iPad mini too.

I also update our Company Twitter account from it and again the App is better than the desktop version. Switching between accounts is quicker and the app has a much cleaner look to it.

As John R said, the odd game of angry birds helps to relieve any stress too! 

Win win, go and treat yourself, write it off in expenses and have fun!

 

 

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By Charlie Carne
20th Jun 2013 17:08

Microsoft Surface

As my server is hosted, I can log on from anywhere on any web-enabled device and get full access to my (hosted) Windows 7 desktop, running all my Windows-based programs. This works OK for occasional mobile use on the iPad via the iTap RDP app (as noted above by PJD17). I'd recommend adding an external keyboard (eg Logitech, which doubles as cover for iPad) for more than casual work, though. The only serious problem with the iPad is lack of support for a mouse or trackpad, so some programs can be fiddly with fingers (or the mouse emulator built into iTap RDP).

I recently bought the Microsoft Surface to replace my old iPad and it's fantastic. As my server is hosted, I only needed the cheaper Surface RT version at £332.50 (plus VAT), as I never need to run full Windows programs on the local device (except MS Office, which is bundled free on the RT). MS now also give the Touch or Type cover free with the Surface RT and these covers provide a full keyboard and trackpad. It's as good as any laptop and much lighter and cheaper.

As for connection to the internet, as some have pointed out above, you don't need a second 3G contract for your tablet if you have a modern smartphone with WiFi tethering (Mobile Hotspot), as the phone provides a personal WiFi signal to your tablet and connects to the internet over its own 3G or 4G network. I gave a presentation at Accountex a fortnight ago and discovered that the Wifi signal in the arena was too weak for a good web connection, so I tethered the laptop to my mobile phone for an hour-long presentation of a web-based product and it worked perfectly.

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By Hosted Accountants Ltd
16th Jul 2013 17:48

Rapid change

As a technology provider and hosted desktop supplier to accountants we visit dozens of firms every year.

All I can say is looking back 2-3 years ago coming across an iPad was rare. These days the conversations we have with clients regarding remote/mobile working nearly always end in a conversation over tablets - Samsung vs. IPad for example.

Move to a hosted server and let yourselves be free - use the iPad when at clients and look modern. Every other industry is doing the same...

Dan

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Replying to Michaelr205:
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By Tickers
18th Jul 2013 11:09

"Looks modern"

Hosted Accountants Ltd wrote:

As a technology provider and hosted desktop supplier to accountants we visit dozens of firms every year.

All I can say is looking back 2-3 years ago coming across an iPad was rare. These days the conversations we have with clients regarding remote/mobile working nearly always end in a conversation over tablets - Samsung vs. IPad for example.

Move to a hosted server and let yourselves be free - use the iPad when at clients and look modern. Every other industry is doing the same...

Dan

"look modern" I think that's the only real practical aspect of getting an ipad/tablet for use in an accountancy firm (at the moment). Particularly when dealing with apple products, the functionality just isn't there due to lack of compatibility with most of the products we use. If we were designers or worked in media then you could say yes there is an argument for using an ipad. IMO the most practicle solution is to get a 10" laptop that you can use as a desktop when in the office but still has the portability and functionality when on client site.

 

 

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By Hosted Accountants Ltd
18th Jul 2013 11:47

Apple vs. Android

Indeed Tickers...

It is "horses for courses" like many things. Some firms want to "look modern" and will decide to get an App and a shiny new iPad. They may not use either tool effectively.

Others will actually BE modern by employing modern cloud technologies to allow collaboration, remote working, improve staff welfare, improve efficiency.

We have clients that are completely Mac based for example. They will typically employ generation Y staff who grew up with the internet and are quite happy to work on different devices and expect to collaborate with clients via portals, the same way they share information with friends/family on Facebook/Flickr/Twitter.

On a practical level a tablet might not be the best device to use to complete final accounts. However to show a few tax scenarios, or respond to emails, it can be very useful.

The fundamental change is that rather than software being installed locally practices are now wanting to access tools from anywhere, anytime. Using SaaS and/or hosted software allows this flexibility.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
18th Jul 2013 17:06

Modern?

I agree that if, like us, you are hosted, then you have more scope to chose what suits you best to get access but having one piece of kit with a proper keyboard and large enough screen to do some work and another to look modern and flick through a few demo screens, emails or content, seems inefficient, which is why something like my MacBook Air is so good, as the quality of screen and keyboard, as well lightness and just over A4 size, cover both aspects.

As for modern, I turned up at a wedding a few weeks back with my supa-dupa full-frame digi SLR, that looks (and feels) old fashioned, then I turned around and saw a wall of ipads battling to get some shots & videos, and had to laugh, sometimes old fashioned does the biz.

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