Top 4 must-have software for any practice
Over the past year we’ve spoken to many AccountancyManager users in-depth about their use of technology and experience of building successful practices. We spotted a theme. While the size of their firms, kinds of clients and services vary - all agree that a basic foundation of core cloud-based systems is crucial.
Take a moment to count up the number of different software you and your team use regularly.
If you ran out of fingers, you might find that you can combine many of these functions into fewer, core systems. Not only giving you and your clients a more streamlined experience, but saving you a couple of (hundred) quid a month.
We were inspired to write this article by Will Sterling at Sterling Accounting Solutions. “I think there's a lot of noise in the industry about tech,” he says, “and if I’m perfectly honest I think you can use too much, too soon.”
They have maybe 15 or 20 different systems loosely talking to one another. When they could have five core systems.”
Andy Sullivan at Complete HQ, completely agrees. “What I see in Facebook groups of accountants, is the amount of hacks and bodgies they've got because they have maybe 15 or 20 different systems loosely talking to one another. When they could have five core systems.”
Of course, there are those on the other side of the coin who aren’t using ‘enough’ software, perhaps still relying on laborious manual and paper-based processes. And those just starting out, wondering what on earth the most important software is to get first.
Establishing a simple foundation of key cloud-based software
For Will Sterling, it’s all about building a simple foundation of key software first. “The main tech we use - so obviously Xero and QuickBooks, Receipt Bank - every single client has access to Receipt Bank - and then AccountancyManager. Outside of that we’ll use things like GoCardless, Stripe and Unleashed. But in terms of key tech, it’s those first three or four.”
Now we are 100% in the cloud. We use AccountancyManager, Xero and Receipt Bank across our whole clientbase.”
This time last year, Spherical Accountants were struggling with too many different software packages and manual processes. So owner, Zia Tahir, took the leap and moved everything to the cloud. “I guess it was a bit late compared to the accountancy industry.” He admits. “Now we are 100% in the cloud. We use AccountancyManager, Xero and Receipt Bank across our whole clientbase.”
I like to do as much as possible in the cloud and with technology like AccountancyManager, Receipt Bank and QuickBooks, if I don't feel like going into work. I don't need to.”
- Mark Francis, owner of Mark Francis Bookkeeping Solutions
Unlike Zia, who had to transition to digital, Khyam Chudry - owner of Fortuous Ltd - was paperless from the beginning. “I decided on day one I'm not going to work with paper. The competition is too stiff to be spending time on things that aren't productive. So I'm lucky. Xero was our initial partner and Receipt Bank came on board very early.”
I set up working from home, and wanted to go down that route, hence why we got cloud software like AccountancyManager, Receipt Bank and Xero.”
So let us dive straight in to our Top 4 must-have software for any practice.
1 & 2: Xero and/or QuickBooks
We’re not going to take sides in the Xero vs QuickBooks debate as we consistently hear great things about them both (and we have integrations and partnerships with both too). It’s all down to how you and your clients like to work.
You get excellent reports in Xero. Clients can get the report straightaway or you can produce them and write up a detailed review if you need to."
- Harry Walker, owner of Harry Walker Accountancy
If you’re not on Xero, you’re not coming in
Many accountants and bookkeepers choose not to work with clients if they don’t want to use Xero - like Ben Steele, owner of Steele Financial. “All our client bookkeeping, VAT, etc. has to be on Xero and there’s no exception to that. We do turn people away. Every piece of work we do is on cloud-based software, but I don't think it's good enough to just say that you use cloud software. I think what makes a digital firm is using it correctly, in a way that creates efficiencies for your clients.”
Turning a tech relationship into new clients, markets and revenue
Steele Financial has recently gained clients from around the world, thanks to Ben’s close relationship with Xero. “It started off with a UK company. We did such a good job for them, they financed us to help look after their global branches. Then, because we know Xero so well, they asked us to look after Xero and related queries from the different countries too.”
AccountancyManager now integrates with Xero and QuickBooks
Asked which newly released AM feature he likes the best, Paul Cain, from Cain & Beer, was quick to thank us for the Xero integration, which syncs all your client details and invoices between AM and Xero, in both directions. “The linkage with Xero has been good. It means I've not got to keep moving screens.” Our QuickBooks integration currently syncs your client details - invoicing will be released soon.
3. Dext Prepare (formally Receipt Bank)
Anna Nikolovska, owner of Digital Accounting, is the biggest Receipt Bank (sorry, Dext, still not used to it) fan we know, in fact, similarly to Ben Steele with his Xero rule - Anna refuses to work with clients that don’t - and won’t - use Re… Dext. Far from being detrimental to the growth of her practice, this ensures that the clients she has are exactly the clients she wants.
“We don't deliver services to clients in any other way than digital and we do refuse clients who don't want to use the technology that we suggest - because it just wouldn't be efficient for us. As a minimum to become our client, you need to add things to Receipt Bank. We don't accept any spreadsheets or receipts. It makes our job much, much easier.”
4. AccountancyManager (or another PMS, if you must)
Ok, so our users are biased, but even if you don’t choose AM, a practice management suite (PMS) should still feature in your practice’s core technology. We sat down with Shane Lukas at AVN for his less biased opinion.
Since last March, Shane has been coaching non-AVN members for free. “I've spoken to over 400 accountants in practice and very few have a practice management system in place… and it just creates so much extra work for them! The return on investment is massive in time and money. They can stop chasing their clients for books or to pay their tax - these are the areas of client service that a human no longer has to do.”
The return on investment [of a practice management system] is massive in time and money.”
- Shane Lukas at AVN
“I would say that implementing a system like AccountancyManager not only allows you to deliver client service in a more tech-friendly modern way, but allows you to take that time and focus it back on client service, on your business or just increase your time outside the office.”
Let the bias commence…
AccountancyManager is the bedrock to our business, an absolutely essential piece of kit.”
“I work less hours a week because I've got AccountancyManager doing admin. My team understands where we are with every client and communication has improved, even though we've added more people. Every person comes in the morning and opens AccountancyManager first. AccountancyManager is the bedrock to our business, an absolutely essential piece of kit.”
- Johann Goree, owner of JGBC
I can't even imagine running this business without AccountancyManager. The sooner you adopt AccountancyManager, the better.”
“I was very lucky that I took on AccountancyManager early on. My business is still quite small, but there’s no such a thing as not being big enough for AM. Even if I had 50 clients I would still want it, I can't even imagine running this business without AccountancyManager. The sooner you adopt AccountancyManager, the better.”
- Anna Nikolovska
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