Updated: Sep 14, 2021
A common goal every business owner across all industries shares, is to increase your business output without necessarily adding additional headcount. If you were tasked with this ten or more years ago, the challenge was most definitely tougher, if not many a times undoable. Output was primarily linked to number of hours worked. Working smarter meant putting in longer hours to get more done before the month ended.
Today’s technology and innovation allows you to increase your business output without increasing your payroll or overworking your current workforce. These opportunities exist within various parts of a business if you choose to identity it.
A great starting point is to identify the most frequently used processes and to holistically evaluate each of them briefly. Start with those where a lot of paperwork is still used and relied on. If a procedure is simplified and made easier, it automatically becomes less time-consuming for the responsible employee to execute. In turn, this frees up time at work and allow an employee to do other tasks instead.
Another attractive opportunity is to start using digital platforms that enable customers to capture and upload their own details, documents and appointments. Platforms like online meeting scheduling, digital application form fill-outs and safe document signing apps. The asset of a receptionist can really benefit your business more than having him/her retype a manually filled-in application form. Or better yet, running around to get various individuals to sign-off on invoices, purchase orders or supplier partnerships.
Cloud accounting software is a ‘get more done’-tool you simply cannot ignore. Gone are the days of manually capturing and allocating each transaction or keeping spreadsheets to track quotes, invoices and bills sent. The term ‘cloud’ refers to the ability to access this platform from any device that is connected to the internet. It creates summarised dashboards of live company financial overviews and links to many value-added apps that can simplify other administrative areas of the business. Expense claims and storing invoices, receipts and statements somewhere safe, is easy and effortless to do.
Of all the different cloud-accounting options, Sage One, Quickbooks and Xero are probably the most popular options in South Africa currently. Each platform has unique functionalities and are ideal to use for different industry- and business types.
This platform can be considered if you have a medium to larger company with a robust inventory to manage. Reviews suggest however, that its bank reconciliation functionality is less user friendly than Xero and Quickbooks. Compared to the other two, it also has less online self-help support available when Googling.
The functionality to compare month to month reports are quite limited and sometimes not even available. It also claims to be cheaper than the other two platforms but charges you per company and then per extra user. If you have more than one company and more than one user, you might end up at the same price than an integrated eco system, with less functionality.
It also has limited app integration functionality – meaning if your company grows you need to move to a completely new sage package. With Xero you can just build on your current eco systems with thousands of integrated apps.
QuickBooks has an attractive interface that is more suitable for smaller businesses. Its summary dashboard is vibrant and appealing and easy to use. It also has an employee page is where you keep track of those who work for you and their details, such as names, addresses, contact details and IDs.
Its accounting functions are limited, however. As an example, you cannot copy a quote to an invoice, which you can do both in Sage and Xero.
This platform is designed for small to medium business owners, large entities will not benefit from either of the three platforms mentioned in this article. If you have any questions or queries, Xero provides you with great online support and self-help digital content.
The Xero App Marketplace connects small business with over 500 software apps that are specifically designed to either complete or assist with the many tasks involved with running a business. When you connect Xero with one of these tools, real-time data can flow between two systems, minimizing the time it takes to complete many admin tasks. Hubdoc is an example of a must-have and handy app for anyone interested in automating their bookkeeping workflow and eliminating data entry.
“I have had the opportunity to work on both Sage and Xero platforms. Personally, I find that Xero’s offering allows both the client and the accountant more functionality. To state an example, my clients learn Xero much quicker, understand it easier and call it user friendly with a logical structure,” shares Tania Steenkamp, owner of HDS Cloud Accounting.
“For accountants, Xero makes your practice so much more profitable, with instant search functions for any transactions as well as VAT transactions included in the General Ledger. When you use Sage, you cannot identify from your ledger what type of VAT was accounted for on a specific transaction,” Steenkamp points out.
“One of its drawbacks are that the debtors and creditors statements do not differentiate between 30, 60 and 90 days. It only reflects overdue. We can, however live with these and have found some work arounds because of the signification amount of time it still saves us in data capturing and reconciling,” she concludes.
Feedback from a client that shifted to cloud accounting
“I have worked in the accounting industry for the past 21 years. I am used to having loads of paper, files and highlighters lying around. Nowadays, I love the paperless audit trails, spending less time on data capturing and utilizing my extra time on constructive and valuable management reports,” shares Amanda du Toit, Financial Accountant at JTC Building Systems. “Cloud accounting is hands-on, live and you have up to date financial data available to make key decisions for your business,” she concludes.
Business growth, through the eyes of an accountant and entrepreneur, means being able to get more done without adding headcount or making your current staff work harder or longer. Ensure you are getting the expert advice and personalised service that your business deserves.