From XU Magazine, 
Issue 19

Dispelling automation myths and choosing the right service provider

How we do business has changed so much in recent years, and the accounting industry is no different. The use of automation can be a powerful asset for accountants, enabling them to spend less time on manual processes and more time on practice development…

As with all technologies, some people are early adopters… some aren’t. For those of us that aren’t always looking for the next new thing, when a piece of technology is no longer a nice-to-have and it’s time to step up, getting started can be challenging.

With so much to gain, what common misconceptions are holding practices back? And with so many service providers to choose from, what questions can help you choose the right one for your business?

Dispelling myths: Fact vs Fiction

Myth: Automation will replace accountants and bookkeepers

Fact: Technology will never replace the human touch. Automated technologies are designed to serve accountants and bookkeepers rather than usurp them. Skills based on years of experience and personal relationships built with clients, can’t be replaced by computers.

Myth: Using automated technologies and the cloud puts sensitive data at risk

Fact: Cloud service providers typically offer extremely high levels of data security, meaning that your sensitive data is exceptionally safe when stored in the cloud (and much more so, than physical copies in your filing cabinets). However, whilst it’s generally safe to work in the cloud, not all service providers offer the same quality of data protection, so do your homework before using a new cloud solution.

Myth: Automation is difficult and expensive for smaller firms to get started with

Fact: No matter what size your team is, it’s a mistake to believe that your practice can’t benefit from automation. Automation isn’t just available to larger practices with the deepest pockets, as automated solutions can typically flex to accommodate firms of all sizes to suit a range of budgets. In fact, automation can have an even bigger impact on smaller firms, where resources are stretched and time is limited.

How to find the right service provider

From payments to payroll, cash flow management and data entry, you can find a range of apps to support most back office processes in the Xero marketplace. And with so much choice, here are a few questions to ask yourself before choosing a new service provider:

Is the solution quick and easy to get started with?

You want a solution that makes things easier – not more difficult! Therefore, it’s important that you get a full demo of the solution and ask for a free trial of the software (if available) to make sure you and your team will be confident in handling it right away.

Is the service provider a good fit for my practice?

You should see your service provider as a trusted business partner, rather than just a third party, so having a good working relationship with the team behind the solution is important. They should take the time to get to know your business, and you should be satisfied with the speed and style of their customer support.

Does the software offer bang for my buck?

This won’t be a surprise… you should be looking for the software with the most competitive price, without compromising on the intelligence and features offered. Compare monthly costs and check for any hidden fees, such as additional costs for adding new users.

Am I satisfied with the data security offered?

Since the introduction of the GDPR last May, data security has become an increasingly important topic. In essence, GDPR requires businesses to more carefully handle ‘personal data’ for businesses and third parties, that is, any information which can lead to someone being identified, such as banking and accounting information.

The good news is that cloud-based data entry software can help with this process. However, practices should carefully check the security offered by these types of solutions before using them.

Two elements that you need to know:

The software should offer ‘Advanced Encryption Standard’ (AES), so data is encoded and can’t be read by unauthorised third parties if a device is infiltrated, lost or stolen.

Businesses should ask where their data will be stored, as some solutions may process data in locations outside of the EU. Different territories will have different data security laws, which may not compliment the standards of the GDPR.

We get asked about GDPR every day, we have a very high level list of FAQ’s here. If you want to know more, we have a GDPR specialist on the team who would be happy to answer any questions.

Strengthening your practice with automation

Technology is reshaping the very foundations of business and what it means to be an accountant. Those who take the time to understand how to apply automated intelligence have much to gain.

Practices should take one step at a time to identify which manual processes are the most time consuming. They should be methodical in selecting the right service provider for their needs. Strengthened by technology, they’ll be able to deliver superior customer experiences and advisory services, above and beyond their more traditional rivals.

AutoEntry and Xero

AutoEntry works by capturing and analysing scanned and photographed bank and credit card statements, purchase and sales invoices, expenses receipts and more, automating data entry to Xero. AutoEntry captures tax summaries by default and if requested, full line item details including description, quantity and unit price. AutoEntry also remembers how users categorise expenses, such as the relevant supplier account, nominal account and tax code without ever creating duplicate supplier accounts or posting duplicate invoices in Xero. AutoEntry even matches invoices to purchase orders.

Despite this extensive functionality, AutoEntry offers flexible pricing credit-based pricing. One pool of credits can be used across multiple companies and document types. These credits also carry over from one month to the next, so customers only pay for the documents they upload onto AutoEntry, as needed month by month, without any waste.

Why leave it there?

Automate manual data entry with AutoEntry. A free trial is available for all new users. Find AutoEntry in the Xero App store or online

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