From XU Magazine, 
Issue 27

Using the right technology to scale up your bookkeeping business

There’s no denying any business looking to successfully scale and grow in 2021 and beyond must implement technology solutions. But why, what and how? Aaron shares his expertise with us.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Much like the rest of the world, the bookkeeping industry is almost unrecognisable from 5 years ago. It’s not just about how you work; it’s about what you do and how your services evolve. It’s about ensuring you’re using best practice. And it’s about continually adding meaningful value to your clients – all while (hopefully) maintaining that coveted work/life balance many start their own business for.

Like it or not – in today’s world, embracing technology is the key to mastering all those things. That is the reason technology exists: to provide the users with a fundamental change of how they approach their world, before they used the technology. And as Artificial Intelligence shapes the future-path of the industry, it’s clear to see the most efficient way to scale up your business successfully and sustainably in 2021 and beyond, is understanding and implementing it.

Tech is the best business partner

The sheer volume of technology solutions available on the market should be an indicator of it’s importance for future-focused business leaders. When it comes to the accounting and bookkeeping industries, the repetitive manual tasks of the work are ideal for Artificial Intelligence solutions to be implemented.

We know that excellent bookkeepers have a deep understanding of their clients. Every client can be different, not only on their line of business, but how they approach the management of their books. And so, any technology that will assist also needs to understand how to approach these differences. Using Artificial intelligence that is trained to act like a bookkeeper and knows each individual business, provides a new way for professional bookkeepers to support and streamline their services.

Looking to practice processes – traditionally, they have been complex, arduous and manual-work heavy. Technology, like we have built with XBert, changes the paradigm on the ‘do once, check, and lock’ approach, enabling you to smooth out your workflows. Consider, as your business scales and you’re onboarding new staff – what does that look like? Relying on staff to do the right thing, with no mistakes, all the time, just isn’t realistic. You can, however, trust the process when you’ve got the right technology in your corner and supporting your team.

The right people, armed with the right technology, can amplify your ability to quickly perform the work required and know if mistakes have been made. This can create a new way of working, focusing on the review process rather than hand-holding; providing a way for you to scale your business to any level.

The right tools for the job

If a builder turned up to work at your place with only hand-powered tools – what would you think? Any professional knows, having the right tools for your business is the key. Your clients expect the same.

There will always be an investment in tools – the important part is understanding whether the investment period (and time) will be worth it. Understanding the benefits a tool will have to your business, negates how much of an investment you make and technology is no different. Sure, you might be able to get by switching in and out of different technology tools – but the question is: What time are you spending on using tools that have not been built particularly for the users?

Like all tools, technology has a learning curve, but it is just part of the course if you want to be the best at your job. Using a product that has been developed specifically for your industry is a no-brainer.

In business it’s true time is money. In a world of fixed time versus hourly rates, it is important to have the right technology in place to remove time spent on charges that your competitors don’t have to pass on. This can be the difference when scaling up the ability to sell your services compared to your competitors.

Key information is just one click away

Bookkeeping is no longer professional data entry. Many bookkeepers are enhancing their services with advisory – and you can too, without adding too many hours to your work day.

The days of the endless clicking or manually trawling data to find the right answers, or insights into your client’s business health, are coming to an end. Technology provides the information that allows professional bookkeepers to cut through to answers they’re looking for. Not only does this strengthen your relationship with your clients, it allows you to add more billable hours to the clock, increasing your revenue.

The same applies to workflow. 

Forget sifting through spreadsheets and checklists to find where your team is at or whether something has been missed and begin to ‘manage by exception’. Using a dedicated tech solution that helps cut through the data to know where you and your team are, is a key part of staying on top of the information flow.

Tracking processes with one or two clicks and being able to understand where your business is at, while the technology constantly checks on all changes made by you, your team or the business, allows you to move forward but easily understand if someone has affected the end of month process. Not only does this revolutionise your day-to-day workflow, it also helps remove the End of Month, End of Quarter and End of Financial Year bump. This can literally be the difference between just surviving in your business, and alleviating time pressure and creating capacity to onboard and serve new clients.

The future of bookkeeping

There is no doubt, Artificial Intelligence will help shape the next generation of bookkeeping businesses. It will disrupt the traditional manual-only practices, as modern professional bookkeepers embrace technology and evolve the profession. Mundane work will be removed, and opportunities for new services will emerge. Technology will continue to allow bookkeepers to understand their clients even better and will help unlock a new methodology of approaching their workflows. Using it in the right way is imperative for those looking to achieve this in their business.

This is exactly what we’re creating at XBert. Using smart, efficient technology solutions will empower the bookkeepers who embrace it with a question: What should we now do with the free time we have created – scale or relax?

If you have a wish-list of what things you’d like to see in a product that will help you scale your business more efficiently – make sure you get involved in the product’s roadmap. Not only will this help you plan for new developments, it will help you shape the ideal solution for your practice.

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