As Chartered Accountants, we see a huge variety in the way different customers maintain their records. Some excellent, some, well, not. Some put all receipts in a box under the bed and hand it to us at the end of the year (please don’t do this!!). Others use Excel spreadsheets, MYOB or Quickbooks, through to the popular cloud based software Xero (which we prefer) to name a few. Your choice of system can have a huge impact on the day to day running of your business.
Using spreadsheets forces you to rely on humans
Slow and prone to human error.
The good thing about spreadsheets is that they are easily customised, and cheap to maintain. The downside is that they can be overwhelming with numbers all over the page, are easy to make mistakes on and hard to fix if something goes wrong. What initially may have started as a sophisticated design, can turn into an incredible mess if not maintained properly.
Further, more hands in the spreadsheet makes it even easier to make mistakes. Picture one person, creating a ‘master file’ then emailing it to someone else to add/alter items, and a third person coming along making further changes to the wrong spreadsheet. All of this adds up to more mistakes, duplication of work and wasted time.
Spreadsheets have their place, but it’s a limited place. If you are using them, make sure you know how to use them, and handle them with care.
The better approach is to go Cloud and automate as much as you can
Fast, simple, and accessible.
There are amazing systems out there at a surprisingly affordable price. These give you real time information, helping you better manage your business. They also make dealing with the paperwork simpler, giving you more time to do the things you’d rather be doing (like fishing).
For example Xero downloads your bank transactions on a daily basis. This means that you know how your business is tracking at any point in time, without having to manually enter data into a spreadsheet. This lets you operate more efficiently, react to last minute decisions, better manage your cash flow and cut back on year end processing time.
As your business grows and changes cloud based applications such as Trello, SuiteFiles or Xero can handle the extra workload. This prevents your spreadsheet from getting longer, and longer, and longer again. And you can easily upgrade, downgrade, add staff, double capacity or make any other necessary change without having to re-do everything you’ve already done.
Sure, these systems cost slightly more than a spreadsheet or a box under the bed. We think you should ignore the cost. They’ll more than pay for themselvesby giving you up-to-date information, ease and accuracy of recording and peace of mind knowing your spreadsheet isn’t going to get out of control. This is value for money.
Here at iif Chartered Accountants, we use a bunch of cloud based systems (as well as the odd spreadsheet). We’ve been able to find a Cloud solution for basically every task. The trick is finding the right tool, giving it a try, and deciding whether it’ll work for you in the long term. Talk to your accountant (or us) for more details about the options for you and your business to save time, gather information and enhance productivity.