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Lessons from the Effortless Bookkeeping Challenge

23rd Nov 2016
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The continued digitisation of the profession, most recently accelerated by Making Tax Digital (MTD), is driving the evolution of in-house bookkeeping and automated compliance.

To manage this trend Receipt Bank has been running its Effortless Bookkeeping Challenge (EBC) which has revealed new insights, measures and practical suggestions on how to go about driving practice efficiency.

This article looks at some of the lessons and new emerging metrics that have come out of the EBC initiative so far.

New metrics driving practice efficiency

Receipt Bank selected metrics that it believes are the key foundations of an automated bookkeeping process.

Steven Lucas, customer experience manager at Receipt Bank, said that by improving these metrics, participants will have an impact on their proficiency and streamline their bookkeeping workflow: “The goal is to achieve best practice for each metric, which will result in the highest number of points.”

The challenge allows firm to benchmark against peers, bringing competitive and gamification elements to the initiative.

The key metrics are:

1. Auto-publishing - when the auto-publish feature is enabled invoices uploaded for that supplier will be automatically sent straight to the accounting software with no need for inbox review. Partners should be pushing for an average of between 35-50% auto-published

2. Clients downloading the mobile app - this is the easiest way for clients to submit receipts and invoices while out and about. Having at least half of your client users on the mobile up will ensure a speedy item collection process

3. Submission method - email and mobile are the most efficient submission methods and are key to bringing clients closer to real-time data. Up to 90% of items being submitted via email or the mobile app is best practice

4. Inbox age - keep your process moving by not letting items languish in the inbox. Best practice sees inbox age less than seven days

5. Client delay - make sure clients are doing their part and submitting items to Receipt Bank  as soon  as possible. Anything greater than seven days indicates client inefficiencies that will add to a slower end of month close out

The challenge ran throughout July and August and featured 48 participants collectively reducing client delay by an average of six days. 16,000 items were automatically published reducing the amount of time receipts and invoices sat in their inboxes by 1,800 days. In addition, more than 200 mobile apps were downloaded during the challenge - an increase of more than 100% on the previous six weeks.

The successful firms so far

The first ever winner of the EBC was Cornish Accounting Solutions.

Paul Miller, managing director at Cornish Accounting, explained why the firm got involved:

“The Effortless Bookkeeping Challenge was the boost we needed to prioritise sorting out our clients bookkeeping to provide accurate and up to date information,” he said. “We realised the current process we were using wasn’t perfect.”

Miller’s team quickly identified opportunities to become more efficient thanks to the dashboard and the advice. Being anonymously benchmarked against other practices also gave them milestones to work towards.

The Practice Champion Award went to Norwich-based firm Together Accounting.

Founder Robert Marjoram said they joined as a way to motivate the team and to measure themselves against their peers.

The metrics helped the firm narrow down areas for improvement in the practice, and opportunities to use new tools.

Marjoram said: “We’re already good at getting people onto the app, but what we weren’t so good at was addressing client delays and pushing them to submit items more promptly. It was something we had to work on more on during the challenge but it made a big difference.

“We’re also now saving a huge amount of time using auto-publishing. We don’t even need to check these items because the software takes care of it,” he said.

Chris Gascoyne of Acumist Accounting, a previous winner of the EBC, added: “The Effortless Bookkeeping Challenge has pushed me to get on with things, because time is the only resource you can’t expand.”


Have you registered yet for Receipt Bank’s Effortless Bookkeeping Challenge? What metrics would you use to help drive practice efficiency?

Replies (5)

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By raybackler
24th Nov 2016 12:36

It isn't effortless. Receipt Bank works great with UK invoices with one VAT Rate.

Give it a typical till receipt with multiple VAT rates (often not disclosed on the bill) or an Amazon bill where the VAT isn't obvious (or maybe a Luxembourg rate) and you still need manual intervention.

As soon as you add in US dollars, it often confuses sales tax with VAT and dollars with pounds, not to mention struggling with US date formats, plus the exchange rate conversion can't match what actually comes through the bank account or credit card, so that has to be edited.

Once you go outside of the English speaking world, the opportunities for error multiply considerably. Had some Chinese bills recently that caused great merriment.

Since most of the transactions we process through into our client accounting systems are bank and credit card downloads, we find there is very little left over for which sight of a bill is necessary - just cash expenses. Funnily enough, the items causing us the most problems are the Amazon bills and till receipts, the same things that Receipt Bank can't handle well.

Receipt Bank is a work in progress.

Thanks (4)
By chatman
26th Nov 2016 10:10

I agree with raybackler. A lot of manual intervention is still required with Receipt Bank; the accuracy is not great and foreign taxes are often booked as UK VAT.

Thanks (2)
By johnjenkins
28th Nov 2016 09:02

So Robert, what happens when MTD doesn't happen?

Thanks (0)
By Correct Balance LLP
05th Dec 2016 16:45

Agree with raybackler and can add that we have dealt with a few clients who were served by this particular plugin to Xero software. Unfortunately accountants were running on autopilot with it and did not notice that quite often software was picking up wrong amounts. My now Client has only noticed that something is wrong when he started to receive calls from suppliers for underpayments. Apparently accountants did not reconcile suppliers statement as per agreement in place. It took us great amount of time to untangle the issue and unfortunately we had to check every single invoice from each supplier (we are talking more than 300 invoices a month with 30 days net terms) for the period of 4 months.
We have also discovered that sometimes even when invoice was from UK this system was getting confused with the layout therefore was picking the wrong data.
In regards to foreign transactions as you heard it from others here it does not fulfill task.
The answer is a system which require a person to check if data is correct. We use system like that and if anyone wants more info let me know via private message. I am not advertising anyone in comments.

Thanks (0)
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
11th Dec 2016 19:33

Yes, I think the idea of 'effortless bookkeeping' is a bit worrying.

Really? Just post everything on autopilot based on what's gone on before?

However good the software manual intervention is still required. I'm a fairly recent convert to Receipt Bank and while its a huge advancement on the old (pile of invoices for input) it still needs information to be reviewed before being posted/published to the accounts software (Xero/QB etc).

Thanks (0)