How apps feed into higher value digital servicesby
Initial evidence from AccountingWEB research indicates that cloud accounting apps are helping larger practices and “early adopter” small firms roll out new service lines.
The first wave of our recent insight survey got positive responses from these practice constituencies (80% of medium firms and 77% of small, change-aware firms) on how software was helping them to focus on delivering value to clients.
Early responses to this autumn’s follow-up survey show 14% of firms had used software to develop new service lines and 27% reported operational improvements that led to increased revenue.
More generally, implementing practice management software had helped to increase revenue among 75% of firms that had done so.
Examples from the field
Taking part in a recent webinar exploring How apps can support new services, Peter Jarman from PJCO explained how his firm had spent three years converting desktop clients to QuickBooks Online. “It was a very big investment, but in hindsight, it was an absolute necessity because we couldn’t have achieved the growth and scale we’re achieving now without making that move,” he explained.
The foundation layer PJCO put in place, with a tech stack of additional solutions to collect digital payments, do visual management reports and manage debtors, is driving the firm’s next growth phase as an outsourced finance function for small business clients.
In contrast to PJCO which uses QBO plus Dext Prepare to capture transactions and reconcile them with bank feeds, Linford Grey Accountants (LGA) founder Adam Pritchard said his firm relies on Xero and Hubdoc for the same purpose.
“That machine learning platform helps you automate the loading of the purchase ledger. On top of that, we add Futrli for reporting. We set everybody up with a board of some sort and let the Xero data we’re processing flow into those bins,” said Pritchard.
As previously noted, cashflow forecasting boomed in 2020 as practices adopted automated tools to cope with demand from clients for forecasts to support their Covid loan applications. The next phase of AccountingWEB’s research is investigating this trend in more detail to establish whether the surge was a temporary bubble, or if it is bedding in as a continuing service to help client businesses stay afloat.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the cashflow forecasting boom may be subsiding - or being driven by core reports in Xero and QBO. During the app webinar, Pritchard advocated building these kinds of services into the service menu for business clients.
“We brought Futrli into our tech stack and made it available to all clients so they can readily track the major KPI’s and drivers of growth within their business,” he said.
As Accounting Excellence Award finalists, both PJCO and LGA fall into the early adopter minority. The big question is whether less adventurous firms are ready to their example and take app-based accounting service developments into the mainstream. To find the answers, we’re asking AccountingWEB members of all stripes to take part in our autumn insight survey. The answers you provide will uncover and illuminate the latest app trends and help us focus industry attention on the app developments that are having the most impact.
These insights will be shared with members through articles, reports and webinars on the site. All of the wave one survey findings are presented in a detailed report available for £495+VAT.
AccountingWEB head of insight Julian Green will discuss the latest research results with John Stokdyk at the Accounting Software State of the Nation keynote presentation at the AccountingWEB Live Expo on Wednesday 1 December. All attendees to this session will receive a free copy of the full insight report.
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AccountingWEB’s Editor at large has been with the site since 1999, rising from news editor to editor in chief, global editor and head of insight. As a roving editor, he continues to investigate the profession's use of technology around the world. He devotes his spare time to technology history and an oddball collection of stringed instruments...