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There’s no denying it; COVID-19 has changed the economic landscape forever; accountants and bookkeepers have been at the coal face of helping organisations navigate the changes. One word comes up repeatedly when describing those who have endured through the pandemic: resilience.
According to CA Brendan Lucas of Hopscotch Accounting, resilience is the main attribute that enabled organisations to withstand the pandemic and its aftermath. It also underpins those businesses and Not-For-Profits that will continue to thrive.
“For the many organisations that were fortunate to survive confronting pandemic conditions, the quality of resilience has been critical,” Brendan said.
“They had the tenacity to reconstruct, not just merely endure. Institutions, financial markets and work arrangements changed dramatically in 2020 and those organisations in good form were the ones that innovated during the pandemic crisis and recovered from setbacks.”
In light of this, the passionate accounting-tech advocate has co-authored the free e-book ‘A Roadmap to Organisational Resilience’ with partner Matthew Knight in a bid to help businesses prepare for impact.
Here, he shares with us his top 10 tips for using tech to create resilience in your business, along with the apps that have revolutionised the way he, and his team, work.
It’s important to ensure all your staff are equipped with the right tech hardware. We issue Lenovo laptops to all staff and ensure they have multiple screens for work and home. We were doing this before COVID hit, but it really paid off when we had to shut down the office for nine weeks and work from home. When your staff are set-up both in the office and at home, you’re not losing time and efficiencies when they’re moving between remote working and in the office.
Whether you’re growing your practice or just plugging away at the day-to-day, having documented processes for your staff to follow and avoiding unnecessary customisation is critical. We had employees working from memory; we had different spreadsheets for different clients, people would tick and flick at the end of the job, so we didn’t have any memory joggers – mistakes were happening. We realised we didn’t have good enough processes in place. We implemented XBert and use their templates, processes and schedules for our workflows, which has revolutionised the practice workflow.
Automate tasks where you can. It’s important to ask yourself when implementing or looking at new tech solutions: are we changing systems for the sake of it? Or will this help take away parts of our workflow? Your software has to be easy to use, otherwise, you add time and stress to your workload. No matter how awesome you are – human errors occur. Tech, including AI-audit, is a great way to mitigate that. Instead of having people check through the numbers to find things to review (and even then, they can miss things), we use XBert’s AI-audit to point us in the right direction to check things. We also set up report templates in Xero to minimise those clicks.
Say no to paper! We were on track to this before the pandemic, but it’s gone to a whole new level now. With clients in Melbourne and Brisbane, there is no way to efficiently serve them – without a lot of travel – unless we are utilising the cloud.
We encourage people to print and have the paper feel if required, but everything else should be electronic – not saved to your laptop but the cloud. That way everyone who has access to those files can retrieve them at any time, move around and collaborate, no matter where they are. Even within the office, with the 1.5m restrictions, we couldn’t even sit next to one another to look at the same screen, so sharing screens and collaborating remotely is a must.
We also help our clients remove their paper processes. ApprovalMax is used by many of our clients to electronically approve bills for payment with the ability to setup simple and complex approval workflows.
It’s important you understand who your ideal client is and say no to clients that don’t fit. You can’t know all software, so if your potential/current client needs something you don’t know well, consider whether it’s worth learning more about the software. If not, is there someone you can refer them to? Nobody likes to say no, so having people you can refer them to eases that pain and gives you confidence they’ll have a great experience with someone that specialises in their field. Not only does this allow you to focus on your service delivery for key clients, but it may also even allow you to make some dollars from referrals.
Excel is still such a useful tool – in terms of flexibility, I still haven’t seen anything that compares. A lot of the time, if you want extra flexibility and know-how to use it, you can really impress clients. We still rely on Excel for budgeting – We have several go-to templates that can run five different scenarios simultaneously for a client that is clean and easy to use. But, like all programs, you need to know how to use the tools right. If you haven’t had any recent training with Excel, I suggest you do. It’s an everyday tool, and you have to keep up with the latest developments.
Nominating ‘Super Users’ of each program in your team is how you keep up. You need to be up-to-date with new features and have close relations with your Account Manager – one person can't do that across all your software. By nominating someone as the owner of that software, you can divide and conquer. It also gives everyone that little bit of extra responsibility and ownership. We use Slack as a communication tool in our office, and we’ve created Slack channels for every software we use; that way, it’s clean, tech tips can be seen for each software and easily found. We also use Loom a lot for internal training, showing processes, and even troubleshooting or sharing information with clients.
Get your team to spend time networking with other professionals and checking out what is new. Right now, this is mainly in the form of online discussion groups, Facebook and LinkedIn. Having this information can really help you cut through the noise and find out what’s worthwhile. Also, be on the lookout for new products: if you get on as an early adopter, not only does it usually save you time in your practice (if it’s a great product), it can often save you money. Once apps become more established, they often put their prices up but honour their early adopters' legacy pricing.
We love Integrapay for automated direct debit of our client’s monthly retainer. It’s cheap, syncs with Xero easily and has significantly reduced debtor headache and our admin costs.
Obviously, this is crucial for any accounting firm. We’ve found Dashlane great for password management. We’re always adding more and more software to the tech stack, different clients use different software, and trying to manage all the passwords can be a nightmare. Dashlane is easy to use even on a mobile device which is useful. EFTSure is also great for larger organisations – it actually looks to verify bank account details for your creditors, so if your clients don’t have the right processes in place, that can be a good option. We offer so many options because if something goes wrong, we know we have given our clients all the information. Not every client will have the budget or decide to take on your recommended stack. But at least the documentation will provide greater transparency and clarity in client communication.
Brendan Lucas is a Director of Hopscotch Accounting and co-author of the free e-book ‘A Roadmap to Organisational Resilience’, available for download here.
Brendan has extensive experience in the NFP sector, previously holding voluntary positions as the Treasurer of the Sutherland Shire Business Chamber and Wheelchair Rugby League Australia. Brendan is a tech-savvy accountant who will help you harness the power of technology to simplify and reduce your accounting function's cost while improving the timeliness of the information delivered to business owners and decision-makers.
As Brendan explains, working with the correct tools in your business means smarter, more effective work and delivery. It doesn’t matter what niche market you’re in or what the scale of your business is – if you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, XBert has been developed specifically to help you.
With our AI auditing, task and process automation and analytics, XBert is the only tool for the industry that combines all the necessary functions for a smarter, streamlined practice workflow.
Why would you use just a task tool when you can have AI-audit, analytics and BI reporting built-in?
Find out how XBert can revolutionise your business by starting your free trial today.