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Supporting enterprise firms to shake-up the status quo of accounting in South Africa

July 12, 2021

I’ve been working at Xero for over 8 years now, supporting large and complex accounting firms to grow and thrive with Xero. It’s been amazing to see these firms grow and expand internationally by transforming the way they do business with new digital tools. They have also pivoted to support small businesses during the current Covid crisis.

If there is one thing that I have learned over the last few years, it is imperative that firms are agile in their approach. This means a process of continually reviewing their existing app and tech stack, together with a strategic plan for future change, is a must.

Tech solutions aren’t going to solve all the problems that exist, but it can alleviate many of the issues faced in a modern accounting practice. As we move beyond the pandemic, firms who have invested in cloud-based services will be better prepared for the ‘new normal’ where flexible and remote working is expected by staff.

Here are stories from some of our enterprise clients over the last year, and how they’ve been using Xero and digital tools to create new opportunities and streamline processes.

Driving digital transformation

The pandemic has demonstrated how important digital tools are in helping firms to continue operating and collaborating with clients during a crisis. One accounting firm that made the move to the cloud last year was Cape Town based MGI Bass Gordon.

They had started to move some of their processes into the cloud, but the events of last year ‘pushed’ them to accelerate this. We worked closely with the MGI Bass Gordon team to discuss their needs and where they wanted to take the business. They are now a completely cloud based firm – moving their accounting systems to Xero, CaseWare to cloud and phone systems to VOIP.

Reflecting on the transformation, they said: “These changes have been instrumental to ensure business continuity during COVID-19 and in future. Xero’s features like Hubdoc and bank feeds in particular have made our processing function more efficient and saves us loads of time on manual data entry.”

Embedding a new way of working for the future

There is a digital revolution happening and many small businesses will be looking to their accountants as advisors on how to digitise and streamline processes. That’s why in 2018, accounting firm PKF Ignite made the decision to move to the cloud with Xero. As a large organisation, introducing that kind of transformation is challenging.

Head of PKF Ignite, Nicole Rousseau, said: “It was very important for us that our team understood why we were changing. To help do this, we worked with Xero to create champions and agents of change to champion the transition and support other staff. It was a massive change management undertaking, so we segmented all our clients and began a phased approach. We made sure our team was upskilled in Xero before any changes were implemented so they felt confident using the new tech with clients.”

Building a strong national footprint

Platinum Xero partner, Mazars, adopted Xero two years ago starting with their Garden Route office. Since the 2020 March lockdown, they have rolled it out across their other three offices. Arno Kleingeld from Mazars said: “Within 4 months of adopting Xero at our Garden Route office we converted 200 clients from desktop software to the platform. With ongoing support from Xero, we’re slowly but surely converting all our clients to the cloud.”

They have big plans for the future too. “In the future we want to officially put a national cloud based accounting and advisory department in action. Advisory services to the South African SME market will be at the forefront of this department, and it will not be possible without Xero. We are very excited about the future and the role tech can play in our growth.”

Taking the pain away from compliance

VAT and tax returns are one of the most time-intensive and resource draining activities for accountants. That’s why we’ve been working closely with SARS to develop a new set of tools that allow businesses to prepare, store and then eFile their VAT returns directly from Xero – the first of its kind in South Africa.

Earlier this year, PKF Ignite became the first Xero partner to file live VAT returns for their clients directly from Xero to SARS. They said: “The ease of use and ability to submit the return with a click of a button has left our team astounded at how technology can really change the game for tax. This functionality has made it possible for us to manage and keep track of our clients’ VAT compliance in a single workflow – which is key for any accountant or business owner.”

Driving tech adoption amongst SMEs

BDO Drive –who are part of the global BDO network – were one of the early adopters of cloud accounting in South Africa, moving to Xero over six years ago. Since then, they’ve been dedicated to helping SMEs digitise, streamline and improve their overall financial health by pairing industry-leading technology with strategic advisory.

Amanda Orselli from BDO said: “Using Xero helps us to build even stronger relationships with our clients. We can collaborate with them more effectively and it means we can streamline certain aspects of compliance so we can focus on our advisory role. We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients’ needs and understand what’s important so we can make the information we gain through technology work harder for them.”

We have a growing Enterprise team here in South Africa, with Graham Gant and Kudakwashe Nandu working alongside me to support South Africa’s thriving accounting community. If you’re looking to take your practice to the next level – whether that means adopting the latest digital tools or supporting your clients with cloud tools – you can connect with our Enterprise team in South Africa.

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