Give up Excel spreadsheets?! But I’m an accountant!
When starting your business, you probably created a spreadsheet (or ten) to manage everything. AccountancyManager is effectively all your spreadsheets combined, with added powers.
We don’t deny it, spreadsheets are a modern marvel and you’re likely rather proud of yours. So was James Bryne – accountant and co-founder of AccountancyManager. He used his as the foundation for AM.
You’ll waste so much time, energy, effort... and life on these spreadsheets. It’s not worth it.” - Beth, 2 Sisters
We look at the spreadsheets you may use to run your business and how AM uses the same ideas. Think of this as your self-help guide to letting go of your spreadsheets and joining the future.
Problem 1: Having information in lots of different places
You may have your clients’ details in one spreadsheet, deadlines in another, whether you’ve contacted or received records from clients in another, which software you’ve updated in another… This means, anytime you need information, you need to find the right sheet – then the right client. Then teach any new staff members your ‘system’.
I had stuff in five different places! ...It was just a mess.”
- Buhir, Total Books
Updates between spreadsheets also rely on manual processes, taking time, risking inconsistencies. And don’t get us started with different people making different changes...
When we spoke to Buhir Rafiq at Total Books, he showed us the beautifully colour-coordinated spreadsheets he used pre-AccountancyManager. “I had stuff in five different places! Look at this one I’ve got: start date, letter of engagement, invoice, the next corporation tax, notes… It was just a mess.”
AM’s solution: Everything in one place – and all connected up
AM turns the idea of searching for information on its head. Instead of finding the right spreadsheet, then the right client, you just go straight to the Client File on AccountancyManager.
There, you can:
- View Client Details
- See any emails sent and received to that client or new changes to client details in the Client Timeline
- Access your client’s portal - which holds all their documents
- See any completed Custom Forms
- Review your client’s Letter of Engagement, Risk Assessment and AML checks
- Check upcoming deadlines
- See profitability, invoices and resources (any extra information on your client)
- HMRC 64-8 agent authorisations
- Run client-specific automations
All of this is now in AccountancyManager, it’s all in one place, so I don't have to go into 10 different spreadsheets.”
- Buhir, Total Books
As AM is cloud-based, you can access it wherever you are. Multiple people can make changes and every change is recorded and time-stamped on the Client Timeline.
Bal at Diamond Outsourcing isn’t missing his old spreadsheets one bit. “Previously everything was more Excel based, more manual.” He says. “Now it's web-based, interface-based and you can have multiple users. It’s more efficient and more effective. From an administrative point of view it’s a much better way of managing your master data, without making lots of mistakes and having multiple users trying to make changes - that can be a nightmare!”
Missing details – not just an empty box anymore…
If you’re missing any of your client’s details, AccountancyManager can automatically chase your client to provide these. You can even let them enter their own details through their Client Portal. You’ll be notified when your client enters them.
The Client List – filter and sort to create dynamic reports
Your Client List in AM is pretty powerful. You can filter and sort it in all kinds of ways, and save those filters, creating living reports (‘Bookmarks’) that dynamically change if client details change or are added. Our Client List isn’t just one list, it’s every possible list you’ll ever need of your clients.
You can also choose to email all the clients on your filtered lists, allowing you to segment your clients and communicate relevant information with them.
Problem 2: Keeping track of client deadlines and job progress
Like many accountants and bookkeepers, Carolyn at Monton Green Accountancy organised her deadlines on Excel, until the data – and her practice – outgrew it. “I used spreadsheets before to manage my deadlines and a whiteboard on the wall in front of my desk. But as my client grew my spreadsheet was getting longer and longer and I was getting more panicky.”
You think you can manage your spreadsheets, then you start losing your mind. It's that Sunday night when you suddenly think, what have I forgotten?”
- Beth, 2 Sisters Accounting
Similarly, prior to using AM, Will Sterling had everything on Excel spreadsheets or the notes section of his iPhone. “What we initially wanted was somewhere to store client data and track deadlines. When you've got 20 or 30 clients it’s fine, but when those volumes start to ramp up, as they quickly did, you need something more foolproof than a spreadsheet.”
AM’s solution: Automatically generating Task List – with Target Dates and Custom Tasks
Just like your deadline spreadsheets, AM starts with your client’s different services (VAT, Payroll, Self Assessment, CIS etc.). In each client’s file, simply tick which services they need and AM pulls their accounting dates and deadlines directly from Companies House.
At the scale we're at now, we couldn't survive without AM. It would be a car crash to be perfectly honest. It just wouldn't work.”
- Will, Sterling Accounting Solutions (SAS)
The Task List in AccountancyManager automatically generates based on these dates. Tasks can be assigned to the right people and you can change the progress status to re-prioritise the task and notify others. Each person in your team can have their own list and choose to order and filter it however they like.
As well as automated Tasks, you can create your own Custom Tasks – so you never miss anything you plan to do.
Use Target Dates for KPIs and performance management
Will Sterling appreciates being able to set his own internal deadlines – as well as having the automated ones. “One of our internal KPIs has been to get 75% of Year End and Corporation Tax submissions completed less than six months after the year end.”
“For Meha, whose responsibility it is to ensure we hit this KPI, the Target Dates have saved her the hassle of having to track progress in spreadsheets outside of AM. Being able to adjust the Target Dates at the click of a button so we can improve upon those KPIs is brilliant, it’s really, really helped us.”
Problem 3: Chasing or reminding clients
This may well be part of your ‘deadlines’ spreadsheet. You might have columns to record whether you’ve asked clients for information, whether they’ve supplied what you need, what you’re still waiting on…
If you’re super-helpful to your clients, you may also keep a list of tax payment dates and amounts, so you can remind them to pay.
AM’s Solution: Automated Requests and Reminders
One of the main differences between spreadsheets and AccountancyManager is that spreadsheets don’t automate things for you. Instead of keeping a static list of clients and manually emailing them when to ask for their records, AM does it all for you.
For each service you provide (VAT, Payroll, Self Assessment, CIS etc.) you write just one email requesting records. AM will fill in different variables to this email, so it looks highly personalised to each client.
Then, just like the automatically generating Task List, the automated record requests are powered by Companies House dates and deadlines for each client. So, AM will fire off the right email at the right time, to the right client. You can choose to send a text at the same time.
I've got 220 clients now and they're all small, but the admin for all of those people and chasing them... it just really adds up to hours and hours.”
- Carolyn, Monton Green Accountancy
If your clients don’t respond, AM can chase them on days chosen by you with automated reminders. Finally, when your clients’ tax payment deadlines come around, AM will send reminders for them to pay.
Keeping track of who has supplied what
On your Tasks in AM you can select the progress status as: ‘Part Records Received’ and ‘Records Received’. This means you can filter your Tasks to see which clients’ accounts you can start working on. You can also filter your Client List using this progress status.
You can then set up automated reminders that specifically ask for the records you’re still waiting on. (In Settings > Automation set up automated ‘Latest Action’ emails to go out once the Task is marked with the latest action.)
While organising time was Carolyn’s top priority, the time she’s saving has made the biggest impact. “I thought I'd give it a go for three or four months and see how it is. And... loved it! Really, really like it. Now, without AccountancyManager, I'd be sobbing gently in the corner! I would've had to have stopped taking on clients much further back.”
Problem 4: Keeping track of which software has been updated
When you can actually feel wasted time passing, you know there must be a better way. One of those moments is updating all your systems if a client’s details change. Or when you’re manually entering in new client details.
We’ve heard of some people keeping a spreadsheet just to keep track of these updates: Have I updated Xero? Have I updated Sage? Do those details match between GoProposal and AM?
AM’s solution: Integrations. And more integrations.
When you enable an integration between AccountancyManager and another software, any changes you make to client details in AM will automatically populate in the other system.
Not only does this save you from having to open up the other software and enter details, it also means that exactly the same information is showing everywhere – guaranteed.
The impact of this hasn’t gone unnoticed by Alistair at Hayward-Wright. “One of the things that we’ve found really useful is getting consistent data between AccountancyManager and Xero.”
“We used to extract data from IRIS and Xero and manipulate it within spreadsheets. But of course, if you get a slight mismatch in the name and then filter on Excel, you miss it. So, having the integration has forced us to have consistent data between the two, so that's been really, really useful.”
Try AccountancyManager free for 30 days
Are you ready to join the future and let go of Excel? Give AM a try and you’ll never look at your spreadsheets in the same way again.
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