This is a topic that is very close to my heart and I am sharing this everywhere I go. A couple of years into my career as a chartered accountant I started to wonder if I was still enjoying working in the finance industry. I was busy with so many routine, tedious tasks that it felt like I was not growing and it did not feel like I was making a difference in other people’s lives. I was so consumed with day-to-day accounting tasks that I did not have time to monitor the financial health of businesses I was taking care of, or to provide valuable feedback to business owners.
All of this made me question my career choice. In other industries I could see innovation and people who were fulfilled by their work, and I remember thinking that there must be a way to make accounting enjoyable and fulfilling.
Cloud accounting is a term that did not exist in my vocabulary a couple of years ago, but it completely changed my life and my thinking. Learning this term saw the beginning of an incredible journey for me where I went back to enjoying finance work again.
I stumbled upon cloud accounting while reading the Entrepreneur magazine and saw an advert for Xero accounting software . The tag line was “Real-time accounting”. It caught my eye immediately; I have never seen “real-time” and “accounting” in the same sentence. At the time, I had been working in the finance industry for over ten years. What I had experienced was that we as accountants were usually playing catch-up. In general, we were processing financial and business information that had happened a few months or even a few years ago. The idea of “real-time accounting” seemed unreal to me!
I knew that cloud accounting would cause disruption in the accounting and finance industry, probably in the same way that Uber disrupted the public transport sector and Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry.
After reading the Xero advert in the Entrepreneur magazine , I decided to propose this new technology at the company where I was working at the time. We switched from a desktop accounting software to Xero. The switch was easier than I thought. Suddenly I had access to a variety of amazing features that I never knew existed. A whole new exciting accounting world opened up for me. I could write an entire book about how this change improved my life but to give you a glimpse of what these features mean, I will only share a few of them. Just a disclaimer: I am going to talk about automation – a lot.
▪︎ WAY BETTER ACCOUNTING WORKFLOW
Firstly, let’s talk about aesthetics. Xero has been designed specifically for the web so work screens are straightforward and user-friendly. The platform is also great to look at and easy on the eye. This may not seem to be that important, but when you spend hours staring at a screen you want to be interacting with the best-looking platform possible.
Not only is the design well thought out, but the logical flow of transactions happens much more efficiently than I have ever seen before. There is no more batch capturing, but rather a transaction flow. The cloud accounting software links directly with your bank. It feeds transactions automatically to the software, matching automatically with source transactions, for example, matching the supplier transaction with supplier payment. All you have to do is click OK.▪︎ GOING PAPERLESS
Xero’s platform allows for every transaction to have a source document digitally attached to the transaction. There is drill-down functionality available from the general ledger, and you can click right through to the supplier invoice. It makes any query and audit way easier than before. No more looking for source documents in files and no more worries that files or paperwork might get lost. All of this is then saved securely on the cloud.
Since the application is web-based and all the information is on the cloud, it enables me to access this from anywhere I have an internet connection.
▪︎ AUTOMATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME
It means that I have the freedom to work from anywhere and check up using my mobile phone. How incredible is this! I am not bound to a desk anymore.
I have mentioned the automatic bank feeds already, but this is only the beginning of automation in Xero. There is an automatic link to XE.com , so multi-currency transactions are converted automatically to your reporting currency. When you pay the foreign supplier or receive money from a foreign client, Xero calculates the foreign exchange profit and loss and posts the journals automatically.
Fixed assets are a breeze. The fixed asset register is integrated into the software and at month-end or year-end, you only have to click one button and depreciation gets calculated automatically, and journals are posted (yes, you guessed it) automatically! The level of automation is unheard of in other accounting applications.
In summary, the automation functions in Xero save me a significant amount of time. This is time that I can spend on things that matter and that actually bring about positive change.
When I think back to the days when I was using old desktop accounting software, I remember how miserable and frustrated I felt. Compared to what I know now the software design was terrible. It took me hours to capture transactions manually, and there was so much room for human error. Things like typing errors, miscalculation mistakes, and misallocation errors could easily slip through the net.
In addition to the potential for errors, you could only work from a computer where that file was located. You had to have a very reliable backup procedure in place and make sure the file did not corrupt. Every year you had to ensure that you received the updates from the software company and then install the latest version on your computer. Just talking about all these frustrations makes me feel exhausted. No wonder I was so miserable and unhappy in the finance industry.
With all the software housekeeping, back-and-forth using non-automated software and ensuring that I had not made a mistake I never felt like I was adding real value to businesses. I never had time for the exciting things, like forecasting and presenting valuable business insights to business owners and helping them to grow their business.
Since the routine tasks are taken care of with cloud accounting and I know that the financial integrity is of a high standard, I can now focus on monitoring the financial health of businesses I look after and providing regular and valuable feedback to business owners.
I am now able to improve financial reporting and be innovative with bringing the business numbers to life so business owners can make better decisions.
I am not stuck in the past anymore, and I am certainly not playing catch up all the time. Instead, I can look ahead in business and focus on cash flow forecasts and company targets and help business owners prepare for what is coming.
Cloud accounting made me enjoy the finance industry again. It enables me to contribute in a meaningful way to businesses by utilising my financial expertise on a level that matters.
The routine tasks are necessary, but with this great new technology available you do not have to waste time by doing it yourself anymore. I am also a happy accountant because I help other accountants and businesses switch to Xero and make them aware of this brilliant technology. I love to see how people’s lives are improved and how stress levels decrease because the automation of cloud accounting brings freedom and joy.
Now that you are totally convinced to switch over, click here to get started.
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