All The Gear, No Idea

All The Gear, No Idea

Anyone who has played sport at any level with be familiar with this phrase.

You’ve seen these people. They turn up at your club, gym, event – could be football, running, cycling – the golf course…

They’ve got all the latest kit and gadgets but once the game gets under way its pretty clear they don’t know what they’re doing.

I used to see this in my younger days playing cricket. Brand new bat – Grey Nicolls, Duncan Fearnley…, new pads, helmet (a rarity at club level in those days)…

All The Gear

…out for a duck…

I’m seeing it a lot now as well – in the accountancy sector.

Barely a day…well often just an hour…goes by without a LinkedIn post emblazoned with fireworks and party poppers and sunshine, celebrating the latest accountancy firm to achieve ‘Platinum Partner Status’!!!

On the face of it you may think “Wow that firm must be really good, they’ve completely nailed their cloud strategy and are wowing their clients”.

This couldn’t be further from the truth on the evidence I’ve seen.

It’s often the bigger accountancy firms who have realised a little late (well often too late and maybe reluctantly) that they need to “embrace the cloud” and have bought a job lot of software subscriptions.

They then proceed to shift clients ‘en masse’ from whatever system they were using – paper, spreadsheets, desktop software – to ‘the cloud’.

The problem is they haven’t taken the time to embrace this new way of working – real time information, instant collaboration.

They may have the subscription numbers, but they are still working on a desktop software model. The staff haven’t been engaged and converted. The software isn’t really understood. Work practices continue as before.

The client (and staff) are really missing out on the benefits moving to the cloud can bring.

I recently took on a client who had previously been with a big local firm – multiple offices, 2,000+ clients. The client was using Xero.

‘Using Xero’ being a very loose description.

Yes, the client had the software, but:

  1. The bank accounts had not been correctly reconciled since the previous year end.
  2. Vat returns were prepared by exporting the transactional data from Xero into a spreadsheet, to ‘prepare’ the vat return before submitting through the Government Gateway.
  3. Vat returns had not been published in Xero which meant the vat reconciliation at the year-end was a hell of a job.
  4. No final accounts year end adjustments from the previous year had been posted to Xero (why weren’t all the adjustments made in the software!!).
  5. Receipt scanning software wasn’t being used – all purchase invoices were being manually entered
  6. And – the client was still preparing sales invoices in a word document. These were then being re-keyed into Xero by the accountant!

I could go on…

The client wasn’t aware of this, nor was he aware of exactly how much information was available at his fingertips through the proper use of Xero.

He is now.

He now also has a known point of contact, unlike previously where it had seemed like his accountant operated a revolving door staffing policy – he never knew who he’d be speaking to!

So, while accountancy firms with ‘Platinum Partner’ status may appear to be the best when it comes to using Xero – they’re often not.

Now there are some excellent platinum partners – those who just ‘get it’ and work with it the way its intended. But if you’re a business owner don’t just assume it.

Get them to demo the software, show you how it works. Maybe speak to some other business owners who are using it to find out their experiences.

If you run an accountancy business and are in the process of or are thinking about ‘embracing the cloud’, please make sure you really do. Don’t just work the way you always have, just with different software.

Really get to understand what the potential of the software is. Xero work with more than 700 other business software products. Which means that any business has a huge opportunity to increase efficiency, improve information and use this to improve performance.

So, if you’re a business owner using cloud accountancy software make sure you choose an accountant who understands its capabilities and is eager to help you benefit from it. To provide you with the level of information, support and advice that you deserve.

There really is ‘beautiful accounting software’ out there.

Just make sure you choose an accountant who can see it.