The way that practices operate has fundamentally shifted. Historically, colleagues worked in an office together with the occasional opportunity to work from home. In recent months, this has turned on its head and most of the UK workforce has been working from home.
Agility and business continuity in the face of change has been paramount for practices in 2020. As practices accelerated their move to remote working, they have turned to technology and tools to continue operating as close to ‘business as usual’ as possible, while still adding value to their clients.
Wolters Kluwer has seen our own customers assess their people and processes with a new lens, leveraging the tools and functionality of their software to steer through the change and create a practice ready for agility and business continuity as well as taking on new services. This has been particularly important given the increased reliance on their expertise and advisory services to support their clients.
Practices will continue to be the experts that business owners seek advice from, such as compliance and cashflow to retirement planning and education. To manage the increase in demand for advisory and opportunities to take on new more profitable services, automating manual tasks like data entry will be key.
For practices who wish to be fit for the future, the need to have the right tools is paramount - to ensure visibility, to meet client deadlines and to guarantee that they are running a profitable and efficient business themselves.
But instead of telling you this, Ormerod Rutter Chartered Accountants can show you how they have leveraged one tool to make their offering more efficient and profitable.
Ormerod Rutter increases bookkeeping and accounting efficiency with Basecone
A key priority for the firm has been making sure a reliable technology foundation is in place to support the efficient operation of resources. Over 220 members of staff across a range of disciplines extensively use Wolters Kluwer’s CCH Central suite of software, enabling Ormerod Rutter to push out efficiency gains in management reporting, KPI measurement and workflow management to all departments.
To further increase efficiency and free resources for higher value work, the firm sought a solution to eliminate the manual entry of data around clients’ business documents, such as receipts and invoices.
Workflow Supervisor Sam Batkin explains why this was becoming a pressing requirement: “Our bookkeeping team was stretched to full capacity. We’d reached the point where we needed either to expand the team by recruiting another two bookkeepers or to find a way of digitally processing the classic shoe-box of receipts.”
A clear and transparent pricing model
Sam went out to the market for a solution that would automatically scan transactional documents for processing into the client’s bookkeeping software. The firm had taken on a number of clients using Xero accounting software and needed a solution that would work smoothly with the package.
He was quite far down the line in reviewing a couple of alternative solutions before deciding to adopt the Basecone web application, having been struck by its immediacy: “Basecone is instantaneous. As soon as you scan a document, it’s processed into the Basecone web app in real-time. With the other solutions we considered, there was a time lag.”
This delay would have had an impact on the speed with which the team can respond to clients: “Due to the real-time nature and speed of Basecone, it was the only solution for last-minute VAT jobs. With the alternatives, whenever clients brought in their documents at the last minute, which is not a rare occurrence, we would have had to revert to entering the data manually to get the job done in time.”
Furthermore, the Basecone pricing model, with a fixed per-client fee, offered a no-risk route to adoption: “With one shortlisted solution, there was an astonishingly high upfront fee, whether we managed to bring clients’ work on board or not! Basecone removed the risk of this massive initial investment.”
Having selected Basecone, Sam was pleased when Wolters Kluwer gave him the opportunity to become actively involved in future enhancements to the solution: “It’s good to know our feedback is welcomed.”
Flexibility to match clients’ preferences
Ormerod Rutter has a very broad client base, ranging from small lifestyle businesses to companies with an eight-figure annual turnover. One of the many things Sam likes about Basecone is that it works for all clients, however they choose to submit their business documents.
Clients can hand over the original documents for the Ormerod Rutter bookkeeping team to load into bookkeeping software via the Basecone Spenser receipt scanner app, by taking photos of receipts on a mobile phone. Clients can also scan in their receipts and invoices and email them on to a customisable Basecone email address, or forward on receipts and invoices received by email from their suppliers.
Sam thinks the Basecone Spenser receipt scanner app has exciting possibilities in empowering clients to handle their own data entry: “The app is very easy to use. It’s basically a camera app and anyone can take a picture. You simply snap and forget; you don’t have to do anything. Also, you don’t have to remember to retain physical receipts as you go about your day. That’s especially appealing to the next generation of business owner.”
For those clients who wish to continue working in the traditional way, the speed with the bookkeeping team can work through a pile of paperwork using Basecone Spenser means that the firm intends to offer a ‘while you wait’ service, enabling clients to take their documents home with them.
However, the original document is sent, Basecone displays the extracted data (date, amount and code) on the right of the screen, for checking by the bookkeeping team before posting, with the image of the original document on the left.
Basecone ‘learns’ over time, remembering to automatically code receipts for the same item from the same supplier in the same way.
This saves time while improving accuracy. Sam says, “It’s quite fascinating to watch Basecone in action. I love it!”
Releasing space and time
Basecone should also help the firm to operate in a more sustainable way. To date, Ormerod Rutter has stored client receipts and invoices in the office for a year, in case the accounts team needs to refer to the original. As a cloud solution, Basecone is not only always available online from any location, it stores all documents in the cloud for ten years. Particularly important in the current times.
Sam explains the benefits this brings: “Office space is at a premium, and the goal is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the large volumes of paper associated with clients’ compliance work. Basecone attaches the image to the transaction, so the accountant can check back to the source. As a result, we don’t need to retain the paper document ‘just in case’.”
The whole Ormerod Rutter team takes a pride in offering big firm capability while retaining a family firm personality. Although Basecone has been in place only for a few months, it is already freeing valuable time for the firm’s accounts team, time that can be redirected to client care.
Sam says, “Basecone can more than halve the time the accounts team spends on getting everything organised to pull a trial balance out of the client’s bookkeeping package. Just reconciling data across multiple spreadsheets, for example, can take over an hour. This time-saving has never been more valuable than at the moment when we are helping clients to navigate a whole new world of government grants, loans and tax deferrals.”
Practice efficiency and growth is obvious for any business but automated tools are changing the landscape.