This article is part of our content series How To Build A Better Bookkeeping Series: The Journey of Continuous Improvement.
Once upon a dim and distant past, the main job of the bookkeeper was to move a pile of paper from the left-hand side of the keyboard to the right-hand side of the keyboard (or, even further back, the big red book), capturing the important details of each piece. And then to file the paperwork in a way that it could be found again as needed.
Things have changed… a lot.
These days, everywhere you look, there are new ways to deliver your product to the client.
Every day you will come across many ways in which you can add value.
So many ways in which you can change the way you deliver your services. A huge and overwhelming number of choices, choices we in the profession have never had before.
Choices at first that might seem threatening – automated data processing, client access to real-time results, clients doing it themselves? Machine Learning? AI? No-code accounting?
You’ve heard it before and I will say it again – there has never been a time like this, an opportunity to serve your customers in ways you have never been able to before, in places you have never been able to reach.
Harness the power of technology to augment your offering, to differentiate your service from everyone else.
If you don’t, if you don’t change your method of delivery to suit the times we are now in, you will struggle and eventually you will find it impossible to achieve YOUR NUMBERS: ideal income for ideal working hours.
As a firm we chose to utilise specific platforms – if you wanted to be a client of ours you had to use Xero and you had to use Receipt Bank – we did all of our reporting in Futrli and Fathom. We utilised other apps as necessary but that was our core offering.
I made this decision for two reasons.
- I wanted to be 100% confident that everyone in my team was a master at the platforms we used.
- I wanted to streamline our processes, and having a well-defined delivery method allowed us to be consistent across the board in everything we do.
Where we used to spend most of our time on low value data processing, we completely pivoted to allow us to spend most of our time on higher value reporting, spotting opportunities, preventing problems.
The power of the cloud means that you can collaborate in a way you have never done before.
Where we used to process data, we now manage data, we help clients utilise the data in a real-time way and help them leverage that business intelligence to make better decisions and grow better businesses.
At the same time, you must do this for yourselves!
You now have so much choice over your method of delivery and you can leverage this to run a smoother business, for both you and your clients – choosing is difficult. So research well and think about the services you provide, the client base you provide it to – the opportunity presenting itself in making tax digital and at all times keep YOUR NUMBERS firmly in your mind.
What are YOUR NUMBERS
What do you need to earn and how many hours do you want to work in order to achieve that
Your method of delivery will be key in deciding that.
Another deciding factor is what do you want out of your business – do you want to build a practice, do you want to stay freelance, could you outsource or offshore?
Cloud technology opens up options that those of us who have always been so paper dependant have never really had before – keep your mind open, virtually nothing is impossible anymore, and if it is – give it a month and it won’t be!
But there’s a lot of time, research and learning to be done to get the best out of these tools, in a market which is expanding exponentially on a daily basis. You have to dedicate time to sourcing and implementing the very best platforms for you and your clients.
So what happens if you do this, without improving the other three key elements of your business?
You will have to work harder, which means you will have less time to serve your clients.
While individually these tools are far less expensive than previous solutions have been (unless of course you are spreadsheet or big red book based still) when you start adding in everything you need it can get quite expensive – you need to factor this in.
You need to get your clients on board; you need time to demonstrate to them how amazing it all is and engage them in the process.
Improve this alone and while your clients will benefit, you will undoubtedly have a very hard slog ahead of you to make this work.
It just might break you.
This article is part of a content series How To Build A Better Bookkeeping Series: The Journey of Continuous Improvement.
Click here to register to the complimentary series with UK bookkeeping expert and author Jane Aylwin.