Driving efficiencies should be at the forefront of any business owners’ mind. Whether it is an external go-to-market strategy, or an internal process evaluation, the desire is to do it quicker and better each time with minimal fuss and an efficiency of cost. Whilst some of us dream about the ways we might be able to implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our businesses, for most, this appears to be a long way off. For others, a more achievable goal is that of using Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for daily tasks. RPA can be implemented once a business maps out its processes and after interrogation of these results, inefficiencies are identified and the repetitive processes are set up to automatically run without the need for human intervention, saving valuable time and money.
Before immersing yourself in flow charts and allocating resources, it is best to target the low hanging fruit and develop an insight into how this technology may help your business today. A logical place to start is with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to do some of the heavy lifting and begin this exciting journey. OCR can convert images or documents into editable and searchable data. It frees up your time to be more proactive and seek out areas that are more interesting where you can add significantly more value. Whilst some firms are not ready to implement RPA, or even willing to document their processes to enable its use, OCR is more widely accessible and is the first step towards more streamlined and efficient business processes.
Companies are using OCR technology to expedite their bookkeeping and compliance workloads. By using the Hubdoc app, individuals are able to easily snap and send receipts using their smart phone, negating the need for laborious data entry. This has also enabled many business owners to be able to claim back more VAT and store their paper receipts electronically without the need to physically hold onto them, freeing up unnecessary filing and storage space. Hubdoc stores all this information for full compliance with HMRC regulations, as well as, fetching recurring bills from suppliers, and an option for invoices to be uploaded via email to your own private vault.
Hubdoc links seamlessly with Xero, a cloud accounting solution, which is a government approved, Making Tax Digital (MTD) provider. There will be more requests like MTD coming from HMRC and Companies House in the near future with the aim of achieving a paperless system, seeking parity with the major banks and building societies, who moved to online banking more than two decades ago. By using an app stack (a selection of apps to simplify and enhance processes) with a cloud accounting partner of choice, businesses will be a step ahead of the competition and closer to a more efficient model with powerful up to the minute data, where actionable decisions can be made wherever there is an internet connection.
Cloud accounting software gives companies the freedom of information on the go with no need for costly installations on hardware, saving on overheads. Information is securely stored remotely in the cloud, where access can be granted or restricted depending on the requirements within the organisation, to ensure information flows only to those that need it, when they need it. Client accounting solutions from providers who fully utilise this technology support companies in seeking out global best practices.
Using video conferencing to keep in touch with clients has been enforced over this recent period but has hopefully shown companies that there is no need for a physical face-to-face meeting and that the historical “local accountant” being on their doorstep could be confined to the past. By using Know Your Customer (KYC) providers to comply with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) guidelines, Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) can be undertaken by cloud accountancy providers to ensure they satisfy their own moral and ethical standards as well as the laws enforced by government.
If your company is currently using a spreadsheet-based system or another provider and you want to make the switch to cloud accounting, the transition is quick and simple, with providers offering full support. However, if you are not comfortable with the process, you should ask your accountant for assistance. Add-ons to a basic cloud accounting package allow for the managing of payroll, employees’ expense claims, and project management. With over 700 apps that can be integrated with Xero, control over where your business is heading is up to you.
If your business needs help identifying how to maximise cash flow, introducing furloughed staff back into the business or to improve your chances of obtaining a government backed loan, the tools are available with Xero and their partners. It is always important to be clear and focused on the goals that you want to achieve, not only as an individual, but also for your business. That is why a personalised cloud accounting solution can offer you the level of service you need now, tailor-made for you to overcome the obstacles of today but flexible enough to scale with you as your company comes out of this lockdown and grows into the future.