Bookkeeping doesn’t need to be done manually. Moving to a cloud system gives you a seamless, efficient bookkeeping set-up, allowing you to expand your advisory services and add real value.
Making the change from number-cruncher to financial superhero will mean negotiating a learning curve. But that’s easier when you know the mistakes to be aware of, the pitfalls to look for and the best practices for managing your financial processes.
Mistake 1: Not tracking your results
The cloud provides huge opportunities to become more efficient. Using software automation and streamlining your internal and client processes frees up time to focus on the value-building elements of your services – but you must track performance to feel this efficiency.
Overcoming your inefficiencies
The more effective your bookkeeping processes are, the faster you can get the basics done and the sooner you can start working on the value-add elements that bring in those bigger fees.
With cloud accounting as your foundation, you have a goldmine of data and information relating to the performance of your bookkeeping. Tracking this information over time shows up the strengths and weak spots in your processes – giving you the ability to focus on (and resolve) those weaker areas.
Moving to a solution like Dext Prepare doesn’t just save time by reducing data entry. Clients submit their documentation more easily, chasing time is reduced and you get to extract data at the most accurate level in the industry.
Measuring performance and metrics
The Dext Prepare Practice dashboard takes that data and lets you track team efficiency, client efficiency and automation levels. So you’re in complete control and can always move forward.
When you have real visibility of your workflows, timescales and resourcing, you can see exactly how well (or badly) you’re working as a practice. It’s only by tracking these metrics over time that you can reveal the work patterns, see the wasted time and look to improve your procedures and resourcing.
Relying on gut feeling or guesswork to manage your bookkeeping workload will result in you wasting a huge opportunity to get more efficient and more profitable.
To make your firm a well-oiled bookkeeping machine, concentrate on the right key performance indicators (KPIs). Forget about just tracking billed hours and start looking at internal and external efficiency and client service.
- What are your response times for client queries?
- How fast do you turn around items once submitted?
- How long do clients take to submit items when they receive them?
- How many repeat tasks are you automating?
Identify any weak spots before they become serious, whether it’s a badly trained team, inefficient clients or bad processes. Fix these problems as a matter of urgency and grow your efficiency – train the team up, fire or educate the troublesome clients and rethink your internal processes.
Mistake 2: Not onboarding your team or clients
The cloud can save you time, money and stress if used properly. But these significant gains can be wiped out, or even reversed entirely, if your team and your clients aren’t properly trained.
Training your team
A shift to the cloud is a big move for most firms. It means getting to grips with a new system and becoming familiar with all kinds of new processes – both for you and your team.
Systemised processes only work if everyone on your team is aware of them – and that means everyone follows the same consistent procedures. If everyone’s working to their own agenda, this results in clashing processes and miscommunication – wiping out the efficiencies you’ve gained by going cloud. In-depth cloud training for your staff isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ – it’s vital to the success of your new cloud-based practice.
Onboarding your clients
It’s just as crucial that your clients understand how to interact with your new cloud solutions – if they don’t, neither of you will see the full benefits.
Without proper onboarding, clients may struggle with how to use the new technology – giving them a negative impression of both the tech and your service. It’s up to you to make sure your clients have the knowledge and hands-on training to achieve the maximum value from these new cloud processes.
To get both your practice team and your clients up to speed with cloud, make sure you know your chosen apps and solutions inside out, well before you roll them out to clients. Map out each step of your new process and document it. Systemising the way you’ll work is essential, so everyone’s following the same process. Create a clear onboarding process for your old and new clients, document it and share it.
Mistake 3: Not offering the added value that cloud allows
Having the right cloud software doesn’t magically convert you from a typical accountant into one who adds direct value to the lives and businesses of your clients. True value comes from going beyond the number crunching to talk about (and listen to) clients’ business objectives
Set a solid bookkeeping foundation
An efficient bookkeeping process is the foundation of value-added accounting services. Combining the right cloud accounting software with a clear onboarding process is the best way to create a rock-solid foundation for your bookkeeping. By plugging in tools like Dext Prepare, you create a reliable, up-to-date flow of client data that forms the foundation for deeper advisory services.
The added value of knowledge and experience
Using your years of financial experience, you can analyse this client data to find the trends, patterns and potential pitfalls in their accounts. Cloud allows you to add more value – but only when you have a close relationship with your clients and understand their short and longer-term business goals.
To add genuine cloud value for your clients you must be a proactive presence in clients’ lives, building the best possible client relationship.
- Take a lead role in fixing any financial issues – whether it’s unreliable cash flow, late-paying customers or unexpected dips in sales revenue.
- Combine the best cloud apps with your own advisory experience to shine a light on clients’ problems and resolve them effectively.
- Go beyond the role of accountant/bookkeeper, be more proactive and become the insightful, trusted adviser that your clients need.