Key Issues for Accounting firms adopting Cloud Accounting (plus the ecosystem)

Uncategorized Oct 17, 2019

We have just completed 6 Appacus App Advisory Bootcamps that we held in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, London and Milton Keynes. It's been brilliant to share our knowledge with over 120 attendees and be able to guide them through the knowledge, process and commercial elements needed to make it a viable revenue stream for the firm.

Each session was a brilliant show of collaboration by accounting firms which we continue to see blossom in our free 500+ member Facebook group.

At each of the events, we had some breakout sessions with one of them covering the subject of  "What are the internal blockers from adopting cloud accounting and the ecosystem within your Accounting firm?"

The 21 reasons captured:

Internal Staff

  1. Finding time alongside current job
  2. Lack of training/confidence/understanding
  3. Resistance to change (if it isn't broke don't fix it)
  4. Excited by where we can utilise apps but unsure on the delivery or commercial model
  5. Lack of consistent...
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Is your Accounting firm generating leads for other firms with Cloud Accounting?

We've been running Cloud Accounting quality audits with firms for over 12 months and we have seen a worrying trend...

Cloud Accounting is being implemented in a poor manner and is essentially becoming advanced bridging software for Making Tax Digital (MTD).... Having discussed this with many firms over this period, they hadn't realised the risk they have with this type of setup - they are generating leads for other firms, we call it the HOPS (Helping Other Practices Succeed) syndrome.

So what do we mean by quality? Cloud Accounting system in place with:

  1. Real-time Bank Feed (should be less of an issue with Open Banking)
  2. Invoice Automation - connected to a ReceiptBank, AutoEntry, Hubdoc, Datamolino, Lightyear, etc.
  3. Regular processing frequency - monthly as minimum.

This level of quality setup gives the accounting firm the foundation to offer their clients comparative reporting, forecasting and offer App Advisory services such as Virtual Credit Control - essentially a much more...

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Accountants are killing their own app advisory opportunity!

You’re an accounting firm showing (or have shown) some progression into the world of cloud accounting and are exploring the world of apps tentatively; however, from what I have seen, most firms are killing their own app advisory opportunity.

But, what do I mean by this?

Well, there are so many firms knee-jerk reacting to clients who ask them about apps or technology to potentially solve a business problem and the scenario goes something like this:

Client: Hey Mr/Mrs accountant, I’ve been looking at this cloud accounting stuff you mentioned and think I could do with something to run my payments or expenses or approvals or credit control or sales or inventory or a till system or online selling or project/job (delete as appropriate) management function of my business. Do you know of anything?

Accountant (panicking but trying to play it cool): Well with 700+ apps in the ecosystem I’m sure there’s something that will fit the bill.

The wrong approach straight away...

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Is your Accounting Firm a Cloud Accounting Software Reseller or a Business Platform provider to your clients?

 With Making Tax Digital (MTD) really starting to trigger Cloud Accounting software conversations with accounting firm clients, we have started to see a trend of the software being sold and implemented in a very basic manner to businesses.

We should be looking at Cloud Accounting as a platform, not just a singular piece of software that can file an MTD return and cover basic compliance; however, that is pretty much what we are seeing. So, what is a good barometer for how we measure the quality of the platform we are giving to clients? Most firm’s barometer is "I have x amount on cloud…" That is not enough… 

The quality standards that I look to are: 

  1. Cloud Accounting System
  2. Real-time bank feed connected (where applicable but in the UK, we are soon to have Open Banking so hopefully the barriers less with this…)
  3. Invoice Automation connected (Receipt Bank, Datamolino, Auto-Entry, Hubdoc, Lightyear, etc)

Firms say to me “yes” we...

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Why app knowledge isn’t enough for accounting firms to offer App Advice to businesses...

So you’re a firm beginning or in the midst of immersing yourselves into cloud accounting, the app ecosystem is coming more to the fore and you’re thinking “we need to learn these apps for when our clients need them” - I’ll stop you there. The sentiment is right but the thought process is wrong...

App knowledge will get you so far - learning the features, pricing, on-boarding requirements for 700 apps; simples... Obviously not and the key focus area of apps - they are simply an option to solving business problems... I get asked regularly “what are the top 10 apps my firm should invest time in?” and my response is “what are the top 10 business problems you are trying to solve for your clients?”

If you’re going to invest time in understanding how apps work for you simply go and speak/survey your clients for what their biggest problems are at the current time, then base your app investment in that area. There will be ad-hoc...

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Cloud Accounting - is your firm selling software or offering a business platform?

Over the last 4 years, I (Matt) have been involved in cloud accounting and engaging with accounting firms. I have watched/partaken in hundreds of client meetings, webinars, seminars and exhibitions where I have been listening to accountants explain what they do alongside their chosen cloud accounting software. 

For the majority of these sessions, whether it be 1-2-1 or 1-2-many sessions, they have pretty much launched into software demonstrations... Swinging right to left on the menu tab showing a bank feed, how to raise an invoice, payroll, VAT return process, system settings and some reporting overview. Then, it finishes and it’s over to the business or group of businesses to ask some questions. 

I’ve seen them done to varying levels of quality, some robotic and flat whilst others very engaging - that can make a difference to the outcome of the meeting or session. 

Nowadays, I tend to interrupt but in the early days, I would come away feeling that it was a...

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Can Legacy Accounting Practices survive and thrive without moving to the cloud?

In a short word, No! 

The future of accounting is cloud-based and with the advantages so heavily out-weighting the best of which desktop can offer, legacy firms need to take decisive action NOW!

Not next week, not next month, it has to be NOW!!

We need to understand the speed at which accounting technology is moving, the rate is an increasingly steep upward curve and if everyday legacy firms don’t act, they are falling further behind.  Modern cloud firms are steamrollering their way to success with slick processes, high value-added output and are often seen by clients as an investment, rather than a cost.

Legacy Practices have a lot of hurdles and challenges they need to overcome. Staff and clients should be at the forefront of thoughts throughout and all the projects may need to be broken down into bite-sized chunks.  It can be scary, but the alternative is far scarier. 

Cloud firms are growing at a rate that has never been seen before in the industry, the...

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