Do you have a Tech Talent Challenge?

Technology is revolutionizing the Accounting profession.
The main drivers for this are Cloud applications which allow companies as well as practices faster access to improved business intelligence resulting in an enhanced capability for advising business decision makers.

CPA Australia lists the following tips for harnessing the power of modern technology on its website:

Treat technology as the key to your business success
Use workflow management to assess how technology can help you become more efficient
Commit appropriate levels of expenditure to maintaining and upgrading your IT systems
Embrace the benefits that flexible operating systems and online communication systems, such as the cloud and Skype, can offer clients and staff
Maximise the commodity of time with automation, integrating your systems and processes
Ensure your practice management software is ready for Standard Business Reporting
Utilise data analytics to unlock the hidden drivers of your practice and hone business performance
Explore social media as a business communication tool and to collaborate with peers

To achieve these, you need to answer an important question.

Do you have the required talent deployed in the appropriate role?

Download this important article on “How to apply emerging roles to grow your Practice”

Xero HQ and its Implications for XPM

A lot of has changed in the accounting profession in the past decade. There’s now better technology, better integration, and for accounting and bookkeeping practices – more opportunity than ever. Xero’s vision is to unlock data and display it in a way that is useful for their partners as well as their small business customers. That’s the first half of Xero’s vision, the second half is to offer you tools to make that data manageable and easy to understand.

What is Xero HQ?
Xero HQ is a platform  not unlike the Xero Ecosystem which consists of 500 apps connected to Xero, Xero will be working with a number of selected Xero Practice App Partners, connecting them to Xero HQ to provide an integrated ecosystem of tools for the accounting and bookkeeping industry. This is a huge deal for the accounting and bookkeeping practices. Completely changing the way the industry works. Xero HQ is going to help you unlock the efficiencies when working with your clients and the Xero HQ takes things one step further.

Xero HQ features:
Here is a summary of features that is game changing:

Activity feed – prioritize your work using the activity feed to see which clients need actions and when. Remove the actions you don’t want to see and setup custom actions for others.
Client list – view a list of all of your clients. Create new Xero organizations for clients not already on Xero. Easily search for clients and view all their contact information in one place.
Explorer – drill into your clients based on their industry, apps, or banking partners they use. Gain better insight into how your clients work and use this [...]

What does your client really want?

Accountants Daily released a paper on what small business actually want and this is what it said -“proactive financial advice for their business: help with business planning, strategy, Analytics, cash flow—all those challenges that are critical for them to master in order to effectively run their business.”
Recently we asked our target audience comprising of Practice Owners who are Silver and above in the Xero Ecosystem, on what stops them in giving better financial advice to their clients and a whopping 61.1% said that it was a lack of commitment because they tend to give their undivided attention to compliance work. Yes Small businesses are looking for accountants to do their compliance work but they also want to be steered in the right direction in the vast ocean of the business ecosystem or they might just press the eject button to escape..

Five Steps to bridge the gap:
1. What do they want: Being a business owner myself, I can emphatically declare this: I would like my financial advisor to ask me “What more he can do to make my business successful?”

2. Value Based Pricing: If you are going to charge by the hour, your small business client is going to have second thoughts about coming to you for advise, but if you have a flat monthly price they can come to you at any point for your valuable advise.

3. Cloud Accounting: Help your clients move their books into Xero, so there are real time updates and your clients can see what is happening and there is complete transparency in the work that you do.

4. Research new tools: I have been on this for a long time, but i am going to say this one [...]

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    Strategies and Tools for working with people in different time zones

Strategies and Tools for working with people in different time zones

“People say the early bird catches the worm. And it’s true! That’s why I work online in the middle of the night—to catch all the worms halfway across the world.” ― Jarod Kintz
Working in different time zones in this day and age has become the norm. Many companies right from Buffer, piktochart and others have remote teams all around the world.With  advancements in technology the world has indeed become “a smaller place…”
So we thought we will let you in on a couple of advantages and strategies in working with people in different time zones, after all we do have close to 10 years of experience in working with Remote/Distributed teams, particularly in the context of small and medium sized businesses.

Knowing everyone’s Time Zones:
This might sound simple but wrapping your head around where the team is located is a bit of a tedious task. Yet, it is important to know because you might be asking you team mate to jump into a new project right when he\she is about to leave for the day. A handy tool to use for this is Every Time Zone  which allows you to toggle around to see what the time of your choosing is across every time zone.
World Time Buddy works similarly. In this one, you can type in specific places and time zones to get exact times for those who may not be in the major cities. Using these tools to keep time zones top of mind makes sure that all team members have an equal opportunity to work smarter, not harder, and that they can engage or disengage in a coordinated way.

Prioritizing asynchronous communication:
There are a number of tools which are used [...]

Improved online Quote templates for your Practice

Have you been looking for ways to improve your Client quote templates? What if you have a form template (or even a number of templates) set up for you securely in the cloud and every time you want to engage a prospective client in order to provide a quote, you simply point them to a link? This is just the thing we have for you this time.
An online form is a quick and easy way to collect information from your prospective clients for Xero Conversions as well as Bookkeeping Services. With this form your prospective client will be able to fill in all the information that you require and you will be able to respond with an informed quote for the service that you will provide them.
Take a look at at this FORM for Bookkeeping Services and Xero Conversions that we have carefully prepared for you. And of course it can be customized to take on the brand credentials of your firm.
If you are interested, we will do the customization and set up  the form for you to try it out for a week at no cost. Only if you like it then you can continue using the service for a nominal monthly fee.

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    How well are Accountants and Bookkeepers Adapting to New Apps and Add-ons?

How well are Accountants and Bookkeepers Adapting to New Apps and Add-ons?

Are accountants and bookkeepers cozying up to these new technologies that are flooding the markets these days? Some people have the idea that “accountants” and “bookkeepers” are a bit technologically challenged!
As you might already know that I am neither an accountant nor a bookkeeper myself, although I’ve been hanging out with them for close to a decade now and trying to help solve their technology, workflow and talent out-tasking issues. Now it isn’t a surprise to me looking at this survey conducted during the Sleeter Con in 2015  revealing these numbers 98% of the respondents are using or looking into “mobile” technology, 89% are already using or knowledgeable about cloud accounting.

Why are they adopting new technology?
The top answer here was, in order to be more productive (55%). You can get more done, you can generate more revenue, right? “Better work-life balance” is up at the top too (43%).

What about their Clients?
OK, so maybe Client Satisfaction isn’t the top driving reason why these accountants and bookkeepers were choosing to move to new technologies. I do think that it is an important factor. As we start to use these new cloud and mobile technologies, we are beginning to interact more and more with the client and their “live” data. We are moving away from shoe-boxes. If we are using  new technologies that means our clients are using those new technologies as well. How is that going to impact our client’s satisfaction level?
According to the survey respondents, 83% of their clients are more satisfied now that these new technologies are being implemented. This shows me that clients will be driving accountants to these new technologies. Accountants and Bookkeepers cannot afford to be left [...]

Gen X Accounting Firm

I am going to make a very bold statement – The accounting profession has to make deliberate changes to suit the needs of their small business clients!
Being a small business owner myself I would love my accountants to not only offer me business advice but be my trusted business advisor. Being a trusted business advisor is the model for Next Gen Accounting Firm.
Well now, What does it mean to be a business advisor?

1.Better Business Automation Solutions:
Like how Tom Hagen ( Consigliere ) advised Don Corleone in the Godfather. Accountants need to advise the right applications and add ons to their clients according to what best suits their business model. By using the add-on’s and applications accountants and business owners can reduce the time spend on data entry and quality checks.

2.Better Insight :
Data driven insights with the data that you collect from the apps engaged rather than just providing financial reports, giving the business owner the privilege of better decision making.

3.Being Proactive :
In a recent survey, The Sleeter Group found that the top reasons small businesses leave their Accountants is because they: (a)did not give proactive advice, only reactive, and had (b)poor responsiveness. Accountants need to be there when their clients need them and they need to be more proactive than reactive if you catch my drift.


Do Add-ons & Tools Make a Difference

If you are not constantly enhancing your workflows using cloud based tools and technology, you really need to take a review time-out!
Here is why:
A survey we sent out to a pool of 150 practices last year had 69% of the audience responded that they are merely aware of the tools and not sure how it really helps or adds value to their practice.

This is what the future looks like for cloud technology (add-ons and tools):
A Goldman Sachs study has established that spending on cloud computing infrastructure and platforms will grow at a 30% CAGR from 2013 through 2018 compared with 5% growth for the overall enterprise IT. Click Here for any further information information about the study.
Cisco released the findings of a global study conducted in 2015 that indicates cloud is moving into a second wave of adoption, with companies no longer focusing just on efficiency and reduced costs, but rather looking to cloud as a platform to fuel innovation, growth and disruption. The study further revealed economic benefits that the more mature(Mature refers to companies that are in the repeatable, managed, and optimized’ stage of cloud adoption) cloud organizations are realizing.
Organizations studied are gaining an average of $1.6 million in additional revenue per application deployed on private or public cloud. They are also achieving $1.2 million in cost reduction per cloud-based application. The study also finds that 53 percent of companies expect the cloud to drive increased revenue over the next two years.
Unfortunately, this will be challenging for many companies as only 1 percent of organizations have optimized cloud strategies in place while 32 percent have no cloud strategy at all.
What’s more Australia has just 19% [...]

Distributed teams and the tools we use

Being part of and managing distributed teams has presented special opportunities and challenges that I have been enjoying for close to a decade ever since I started  Stylus FMS. It definitely has helped me gain some expertise in the area of how to work with remote teams in order to help businesses truly harness the power of the cloud, which I have briefly discussed in this [VIDEO].
Here are some of the tools that we use.

Slack: Keeping a meaningful touch with the team
We use Slack for focused communications around projects and other areas meaningful for our common productivity. This is a team chat tool which lets us create different channels as well as having 1-on–1 conversations as needed.
Here’s what our channels looks like (well, most of them)

Skype: Face-to-Face Contact

Only for those of you who haven’t yet been initiated to online video conferencing – Skype is a video chat tool that helps us stay in touch with each other when we are working remotely. We insist that video needs to be on and that is something that we encourage our clients to do as well. Expressions and emotions communicate much better that way. Skype also enables  quick sharing of screens when needed. We also meet on a weekly basis to discuss anything “ Xero “ and  anything “ Cloud “ and that happens from within slack with the cool new integration of Skype and Slack.
Here is a screenshot as to how we do it.

And the rest of the team gets an update of it and we get started.

Google Docs, Sheet: Collaborating Online
Collaboration in the team is achieved through a combination of Slack as well as Google Drive. We usually decide [...]

Building Blocks for a Cloud Accounting Firm

The debate is almost settled now! It is better to have your information on a cloud server and protected with professional security and redundant backups rather than trust it on your corruptible computer drives or local network.  However, this is not to say that one should blindly rush in. Due diligence need to be firmly in place and can be done without putting a hole in your purse. I think that the conversation now turned away from “should I” or “shouldn’t I” be in the cloud to “how do I do it more effectively?”

Virtual Talent
As long as you have a decent internet connection, you are able to work anytime, anywhere and data is safely stored and backed up and accessible by you, your colleagues, and your stakeholders.  That’s awesome, and it’s a game changer in being able to effectively provide services to your clients.  Sure, you have heard this a gazillion times already!
But hey, once you are on the cloud, you no longer need your staff in the same office… they can be all around the world. The word  “Virtual Talent” has become a thing because of the Cloud. If your worry is about ending up micro-managing your virtual talent, take a look at our Case study on How Xero Practice Manager helped overcome the trap of Micromanaging.

Tool Proficiency
This is the question that everyone is asking.  Which software is better:  QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks, Zoho, Wave, Kashoo. The answer depends entirely on your clients. Doesn’t it?
Who are your clients?  Law firms, construction companies, flower shops, and online retailers all have different accounting needs.  So before you choose the tools you are going to use, you need to figure out [...]