Over the last few years, most accounting firms have adopted cloud bookkeeping software, such as Xero, QuickBooks, and Sage Business Cloud. These are really effective tools to automate and speed up day to day bookkeeping.
However, a more recent tech development is the ability for accountants to manage an entire range of accounting and business processes from one destination with connected tools in the accounting ecosystem.
These go far beyond bookkeeping and cover processes to include proposals, payroll, payables and company filings.
The connected software solutions that facilitate this use APIs that allow data to flow to and from core bookkeeping tools and third-party applications, with manual data entry being minimised and tasks being streamlined and completed faster.
In this piece, we explore the benefits of integrated solutions, why it’s essential to incorporate them and what this means for the future of accounting.
They save time
Integrated accounting solutions save time with data being transferred back and forth between applications, which eliminates the need to enter transactions more than once.
Where traditional self-assessment software requires accountants to enter and remap general ledger values at year-end manually, connected accounts production software can pull this data in automatically from bookkeeping software. And, in most cases, it maps it out under the same categories.
This helps streamline accounts production workflows to complete these jobs faster, with junior team members able to contribute and build experience earlier in their careers.
As a result, it's now far easier to complete self-assessment filings in advance of the 31st January deadline, so assuming records are kept up to date, tax returns can be completed months in advance.
They reduce the risk of error
Reducing manual entry from incorporating connected software also minimises the risk of human error, which can be costly.
It’s not uncommon for mistakes to occur when data has to be entered or exported from bookkeeping providers to unconnected third-party software to complete payment runs and payroll.
Errors create additional work; it takes effort to fix transactions, which often exceeds the amount of time that would have been used if they had been processed accurately the first time around.
Tools like Modulr’s Payments Dashboard integrate seamlessly with leading cloud accounting and payroll providers, such as BrightPay, IRIS and Sage, to manage payment runs and payroll. Data flows effortlessly, and payments are made fast and accurately through automation.
As services like payroll and payments become light touch assignments, it becomes more compelling for firms to offer them to clients.
They help enhance client relationships
Adopting integrated accounting software which fulfils a range of accounting and business processes will enhance client relationships.
Efficiencies from automation means assignments will be completed faster, increasing client satisfaction levels.
Additionally, using an ecosystem to provide a full suite of services will allow accountants to become more embedded within their client businesses and be in a position to truly understand what is going on, alongside having the confidence that data is accurate and up to date.
They create space to roll out advisory services
Moving towards advisory services is critical in the current business landscape, not least because of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
But it only becomes possible to roll out advisory services by implementing integrated ecosystem solutions. This enables accountants to give useful forward-looking advice by having reliable data with financial records being presented in close to real-time.
Thanks to end-to-end integrations, accountants can introduce higher value (and margin) advisory services, including cash flow forecasting, working capital management, scenario planning and access to finance.
This will make engagements more sticky and minimise the risk of losing clients to competitors further along in their technology adoption journey.
While incorporating connected and integrated solutions may seem like a “nice to have” now, it’s likely to soon become standard due to the fast development of connected tools - not to mention the need to further leverage automation due to the MTD roadmap.
Additionally, newer accountants coming into the workplace expect to use tools that really allow them to make the most of automation. Sticking with unconnected services is outdated, and may result in firms losing employees to accounting practices that are further ahead in their adoption.