My head is in the clouds...It's a great view but what happens now?
The last few years have been a tremendous period for accounting firms like ours and for our team members. The proliferation of and rapid improvement in accounting software – most noticeably Xero – and the huge amount of marketing done by the software developers, created a great opportunity for accountants to help businesses update their accounting systems, dramatically improving their finance and accounting function. Small and micro businesses are now able to have quite sophisticated internal accounting systems and processes.
It is now the notable exception to find a business that does not have a cloud based accounting system with a reasonably high degree of automation. Business owners and managers (and their accountants) have more accurate information, available sooner and with less time and effort required to generate it than in the past. These people, our clients, have almost real-time information to support or challenge their “gut feel” on how the business is going. Most now have some form of basic KPI (Key Performance Indicator) management tool which automatically uploads the accounting data and performs analysis each month or quarter. This is then fed back to the business owners or managers in a timely manner. It is presented concisely and highlights any areas of concern. Flashing lights and automatic prompts create warnings if debtor days exceed a pre-determined threshold or expenses are over budget by a pre-entered amount.
This has been empowering and a richly rewarding experience for us to build with our clients. It has been a true chance to partner with them and we have enjoyed it immensely. The naysayers who predicted that this revolution would lead to mass job losses at accounting firms and dramatic cuts in the work done by accountants were very wrong. Clients in general expect more and better services from us and we believe overall this has been achieved.
However, like a sporting team that sweeps all before it in the first round of a tournament we have given ourselves a very brief pat on the back and planned for the much greater challenge that now confronts us. The initial gains of efficiency and timeliness that have been achieved are very valuable but not staggering. We have earned the right to face the true challenge with our clients.
What do we do know? Or more simply put “So what?” because there is no point knowing more about your business or even knowing it faster if you don’t know what to do with that information. We are working with many clients to help them interpret the information produced to assist them in making informed decisions. As we come towards the end of the year our reflection on a great period for our firm and our clients will be brief - the next challenge is upon us and we are looking forward to meeting it.