Welcome to Tech Talk, a monthly catch-up with an accountant in practice to find out the effect that technological changes have had on the industry over the years.
Today we are joined by Jeri Williams, director of J Williams & Co, an accountancy practice that has been shortlisted for New Firm of the Year at the Accounting Excellence Awards 2018.
Jeri has been working as an accountant in practice since 2006 and became a director for her previous employer after 7 years. In 2016, she decided to set up her own accountancy practice, offering services such as accounts preparation, bookkeeping, and taxation advice, as well as planning and forecasting for new businesses.
The firm, based in Fareham, serves individuals, small and medium sized businesses in the South of England, where it also works with local organisations such as schools and charities.
Jeri, how has the technology you use in your firm changed since you started out?
Things have become more cloud based, with clients wanting to use more cloud-based technology rather than desktop based, so we now use products online. That's probably the main change that we've seen.
Tell us about the tech set up within your practice.
We went paperless in April, which has made a massive change – not just in terms of cost saving, but also in time and efficiency because we no longer need to go and get paper files. As we use cloud based software and storage solutions, everything is online, which has made our lives much easier in terms of accessing information.
What three considerations did you make when choosing the technology for your practice?
I already knew Digita, I used the software in a previous role. I really liked it and I wanted to use it for my practice, so that was a no-brainer. We’ve also tried to listen to our clients about what they wanted to use. There are still a lot of practices using paper files and posting things out, but we are more tech-savvy, I think.
The main characteristic that we were looking for was good support. We were also looking for an integrated solution. I know a few other practices that use systems that are not integrated and they say it is a bit of a pain, so for us, the fact that Digita is integrated is really useful. And we also wanted a solution that had an easy to use interface.
What are your favourite technology products at work and at home and why?
I don't have any favourite technology products at home, but at work our favourite at the moment is Xero.
Are there any everyday accountancy problems you think could be solved with technology in the future?
I think HMRC accepting some things electronically. For example if we send a 64A agent authority form, it has to be in the post. For some things, they only accept original documents and it's a very long process as you have to write to them in the post, you can't email them. That needs to change; it's not in keeping with the times.
Can you tell us about a recent project or process that you made better, faster, smarter or more efficient?
I'd say going paperless, definitely. That has saved us a lot of money in ink and paper and it's also saved us a lot of time when we need to do the filing. It's just much easier.
If you liked this piece, take a look at what Jolene Hutton has to say about the tech set up within Eazitax, a practice whose services are focused towards UK taxi drivers.