Life on accountancy's online frontier

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Accountant and Cloud pioneer Ray Backler moved all of his clients to an online accounting system back in 2004. Five years down the line he still has no regrets, writes Lesley Meall.

In 2004 sole practitioner Ray Backler decided to expand his firm, Capsa Accounting, and develop more value-added revenue streams. He knew that it would call for more staff (in addition to his bookkeeper) or radical changes.

"I didn't want to be the sort of accountant who just produces quarterly VAT returns and annual tax returns and then sends the client a big bill once a year," recalls Backler, who was keen to develop stronger working relationships with his clients.

"Compliance purchases tend to be grudge purchases," he observes. "I wanted Capsa to work more closely with its clie...

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16th Jun 2009 22:08

Offline success
This is little to do with online software and much more about being inline with client’s mentality. We have a firm who started in 2005 (working from home) and is now looking at setting up a second office. They’ve got 200 clients using our “offline” system and working in “real-time” with her clients.

Online software doesn’t keep the books up to date and it doesn’t mean a bank reconciliation will be done.

By the way, better than having a virtual practice is to have a practice set up so you are virtually not required. The problem with most £4m t/o businesses is they often will want to speak to the practice owner, that’s why we only have a simple basic system for micro and small clients.


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18th Jun 2009 17:07

Online Accounting
You’re absolutely right Bob, online does not mean that the books are up to date and it doesn’t mean a bank reconciliation will be done.

Being online and collaborating with your clients does mean, unlike offline software, that you are able to work together in real time. You can guide a client through a bank reconcilaition wherever they are in the world!


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04th Jul 2009 06:35

You can do that with any software by using meeting technology like WebEx and Go To Meeting. And, with these tools you can do so much more. One little idea is to have a meeting over the Internet and go through the draft accounts.

The question is how much extra money are you making? How much easier is your life? Can you build an accountancy business that doesn't depend on you?

I'm sure there are benefits but software alone (online or offline) isn't the only answer. But, fair play to you for making technology a key part of your proposition.


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09th Jul 2009 18:37


The inexorable march of the internet and online collaboration is gathering pace. I don't seek to have all of the answers, but anyone who ignores new technology is surely taking a risk with the long term future of their business. There is room for us all to have different approaches to how we do business. I am not criticisng those who use offline software. In fact many mid to large organisations use VPNs to ensure that their offline software is accessible in other ways. So the fact that software is offline does not mean that technology is not being used to make it accessible.

There is an excellent book called Wikinomics that delves into the world of collaboration.


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