The next step for accountancy: Automatic data entry


Glen Foster Director of Accounting Partners UK & EMEA

The challenges manual data entry create

For many accountants and bookkeepers, up to 30% of their time is still spent chasing client documents, then entering data manually, while small business owners struggle to keep on top of their paperwork with printed bills and receipts – resulting in a limited, or inaccurate, view of their cash flow.

Quite simply – manual, paper-based processes result in lost documentation, human error, and slow delivery of financial reports.

Up to 25%* of the typical accounting practice’s office space is used to store paper documents. That’s a massive overhead. And, when space is at a premium, it may even be a barrier to hiring more staff.

Common misperceptions about automation

There will be fewer jobs – The prospect of AI and robots taking over, making accountancy jobs redundant has been a worry for probably as long as the technology has been around. But, in reality, only 5% of the jobs that exist today consist of activities that are fully automatable, according to Xero’s Business Rewired report. Increased automation will actually create a range of new jobs and opportunities.

Accountants will have less to do – again, this isn’t true. Automation offers accounting and bookkeeping practices worlds of opportunity. It will be up to you to decide how you spend the time you save once you implement automated data entry.

If you’ve built your practice purely on compliance, and have no interest in a business guidance or advisory role, you can market yourself and grow your client base, safe in the knowledge that you have the capacity to meet new clients’

needs. For practices that offer clients a broader suite of services, it’s the chance to build closer relationships with clients, better understand their business’ needs, and develop insights and forecasts.

Introducing Hubdoc

Hubdoc takes hours out of the equation. Manual accounting tasks like entering bills and receipts are automated – it’s accurate, efficient and profitable as you can focus your time on growing your practice.

The whole process is streamlined as you, and your clients have the tools to quickly and easily upload bills and receipts using any online device – and you can access all the information in one centralised, digital system of record.

Once documents are uploaded to Hubdoc, the key data is automatically extracted and ready to sync to Xero as accurately coded transactions with the source document attached. From there, the transactions are ready for one-click bank reconciliation.

From 18 March, Hubdoc is free with Xero business edition subscriptions, so it will cost Xero partners nothing to try it out for their practice.

Freedom in Numbers: An automated accountancy firm

When Hannah Adams and her husband Simon founded Freedom in Numbers in 2017, they wanted to start an accounting firm of the future. Recognising a need to standardise the software for both their practice and their clients, they chose Xero.

“We wanted to speed up the monthly bookkeeping process, not just for our clients, but for ourselves as well,” says Hannah. “Data entry should be the start of our processes, not the be-all and end-all of what we do. Manual data entry took us away from being able to serve our clients better, so while we were preparing to launch, we looked for a way to streamline this task while also working seamlessly with Xero.”

The biggest roadblock Hannah’s clients faced when trying to implement a seamless accounting workflow was manual bookkeeping, like saving receipts, bringing them to the accountant, entering data and matching to a transaction.

Recognising that paper documents caused significant delays in the bookkeeping process for both clients and themselves, Hannah and Simon made sure to provide Hubdoc training to their clients. This focused specifically on Hubdoc’s mobile application so they could easily take photos of receipts. With clients snapping photos, Hannah and Simon could ensure a constant incoming document stream, rather than waiting months for a box full of receipts.

“All new clients get both Xero and Hubdoc,” explains Hannah. “We don’t tend to work with anything else because we find it’s the perfect integration and provides a complete bookkeeping experience.”

As forward-thinking firm owners, Hannah and Simon used the extra time and increased efficiency they experienced with Xero and Hubdoc to focus on growth and client experience.

“The time savings can’t be stressed enough,” says Hannah. “It meant we could interact better with our clients: go out and see them if we needed to, or find new clients and give them the right amount of time.”

This attention to client experience has paid off for Freedom in Numbers, as they saw an astounding 300% growth in their business.

“Hubdoc saved huge amounts of time in our daily bookkeeping services. We would spend a full day each week doing manual data entry, but now we can do the same work in about 10 minutes.”

Ultimately, automated data entry is here and will change the way accountants and bookkeepers work in the future. You can find out more about Hubdoc and how it works here.

*According to Xero’s Business rewired report

If you’re an accountant or bookkeeper in practice – and want to enjoy the same time-saving and efficiency as Freedom in Numbers – sign up to the Xero partner programme, where you’ll get the tools, resources and dedicated account management to help get your practice and clients set up.

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