By Bruce Penson, Managing Director of Pro Drive IT
April: one of the busiest times of year for accountants. 5th April 2019 marked the official end of the tax year in the UK, but many people and companies will still be scrambling to complete their tax returns. So, accountants have their work cut out.
For smaller accounting firms or businesses with an in-house accountancy team, this can be especially challenging. Many firms will have found they were under-resourced and struggled to keep up with the increased workload – particularly as year-end approached.
As such, flexible cloud solutions like online accountancy software and remote access portals are needed to meet demand, save time and prevent the dreaded burnout. Not only will this allow for a more productive and agile core workforce, whereby accountants can operate remotely from any location – but it also creates better opportunities to outsource tasks during busy periods, without compromising ways of working. Plus, data and information will be much more secure.
Take it online
As the reasons for doing so become harder to ignore, many accounting firms have already turned to cloud-based applications. One particularly compelling reason is HMRC’s new Making Tax Digital initiative; as of April 2019, all companies over the VAT threshold of £85,000 will need to keep digital records and submit these electronically.
Fortunately, cloud-based accounting software makes the number crunching business much easier and improves efficiency, as accountants can access the same data from anywhere at any time. Because these services are delivered via the internet, they also remove the need for onsite hardware and all its associated problems – instead, using the latest technology to ensure systems work seamlessly together and keep data secure. What’s more, cloud accounting software also reduces costs and encourages greater collaboration with clients.
Even the smallest firms with the most limited budgets should be able to find software that suits their needs and price range. Xero, QuickBooks and Sage are among some of the best cloud-based accounting software for 2019.
A secure exchange
In the accounting world, documents are typically exchanged between firms and their clients through email, which is disorganised and can easily become overwhelming. Particularly during busy periods such as year-end when keeping track of communications, changes and approvals can be challenging. Not to mention, sharing data via email poses a massive security risk.
A document exchange portal or secure email system is recommended to facilitate the secure exchange of information between accountants and their clients. Some accounting software will even provide dedicated client portals or the ability for the accountant to connect to the client’s system – ensuring both parties have the flexibility of on-demand access to financial data, organisational resources and corporate applications no matter where they are.
Make the first move
Some accountancy firms may still have their systems on premise IT systems – this may be due to restrictions on cloud-based systems or simply because of the privacy concerns of their clients. Even then, these systems can be made accessible to remote workers via the web, giving more flexibility during times of high demand.
With the help of cloud services, accountants will no longer just be the person that helps out around year-end. Instead, firms of all sizes will be able to act as true business partners – keeping pace with their clients at all times, from any location.
But making the move won’t necessarily be as simple as flicking a switch. This should ideally be an automated process as any manual transference can lead to errors and compatibility also needs to be considered.
Although 2020 might seem a long way off, it is vital to start planning ahead and getting the necessary resources in place now to ensure you are fully prepared for the next year-end. To guarantee proper implementation of these services, it is worth seeking the help of an expert who can ensure the correct measures are in place to protect valuable data during migration or set up.
To find out how we can help your accounting firm make the move today, please get in touch.