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Woman flying in the sky carried by a cloud | AccountingWEB | The cloud accounting dream needs firm foundations
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The cloud accounting dream needs firm foundations

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Thousands of UK businesses sold the cloud accounting dream aren’t seeing the benefits. With their industry knowledge and a systematic approach, accounting firms can help, writes Gravita’s Russell Frayne.

1st May 2024
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There are many examples where accountancy firms have migrated clients onto cloud accounting software or looked to make improvements to their legacy finance functions – and plenty more where businesses have moved themselves.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) was a significant driver, but with this came a rushed approach to move businesses onto a cloud accounting platform that was MTD compliant. Once a client had moved, many stopped right there. This left business owners using sub-optimised cloud solutions, and not getting the real benefits.

Often, this is where any transformation project fails – through a client-led short cut approach. Each and every one of us who has implemented technology for a client will have been guilty of this at least once and had our fingers burned as a result.

Whilst thousands of tech transformations have taken place, there are literally thousands that are still sub-optimised, and whilst we have specific projects where clients request systems reviews, or where we identify a client need, we are also looking to address those unnoticed or unidentified businesses on cloud solutions that aren’t getting the most from their new tools.

Where do you start?

To make the most of cloud accounting tools, it’s important to start with data. Review your clients already on cloud solutions and then benchmark them against some basic metrics. This can help you identify those that would possibly benefit from a systems review conversation.

For example, of those on a cloud system, do they have?

  • Bank feeds (Xero report 37% of Xero subscriptions have bank feeds in place – this should be much higher)
  • Raising sales invoices directly through the software
  • Invoicing templates in place
  • Payment collection integrations such as pay now buttons
  • A data capture tool
  • Understanding and using any mobile app features for convenience
  • Basic reporting
  • A data health check to identify anomalies or inconsistencies where bad habits may have crept in.

This list is non-exhaustive and each client base or platform may vary slightly, but having a basic checklist to benchmark your clients’ basic system implementation is a great starting place for client conversations.

The solution

Once you have the checklist in place, set your minimum threshold (this may not apply to every client of course). Let’s say this is data capture, bank feed, invoicing and a payment link with a basic report pack they can run.

The beauty of this approach is that not only do you get to immediately improve the client’s experience and use of cloud tools, but you also have clients asking ‘what else can I benefit from’? This leads to further conversations and additional systems advisory opportunities as you start to change the client’s mindset away from technology being a compliance requirement to an enabler for their business.

The benefits

For the client this can be truly transformational, not just from a technology perspective but also in terms of their business insight, cashflow and also their own time.

Clients are reporting getting their weekends back as they can now invoice on the go, get paid faster, and get a live snapshot of their up-to-date bank position.

And just by putting this approach in place, as a practice we’ve seen better cloud-enabled businesses, better end-of-year records, better insight-led conversations and happier clients.

Final words

While we get a buzz from implementing a nice new shiny piece of software for a client and seeing the benefits to their business, there is also something a bit special about circling back to those clients who were sold the cloud accounting dream and aren’t seeing those benefits just yet.

Optimising these clients will not only have a profound impact on the running of their business, but also make them a much better client moving forward in your practice.

Replies (2)

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By carnmores
01st May 2024 17:55

tell us something we dont know

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By FactChecker
01st May 2024 19:18

Once a client had moved (businesses onto a cloud accounting platform), many stopped right there.

There is another possible interpretation of that fact ... maybe some (who had wrongly been rushed under the shadow of MTD into a technology that doesn't suit them) simply said 'woah, thank goodness I found the brake pedal at last!'

Not everyone sees the Gadarene swine as a role model ... maybe they cast out the demons?

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