If your firm isn’t using cloud practice software, you might have missed the boat

Tushir Patel Co-Founder of Capium

What's stopping your accountancy practice from embracing cloud-based practice software? If now isn't the time to switch, when is?

At this point, you have to wonder what motivates any accountancy practice still clinging to desktop software and paper records when they could be enjoying the benefits of cloud technology.

Is it bloody-minded awkwardness? Stubbornness? Unfounded fear?

Dithering and delaying “to see how things pan out” doesn’t make sense anymore because we know how things are going to pan out: the UK tax system will be fully digitised sooner or later – probably sooner.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) kicked in for VAT last April (2019) and could start rolling out to other taxes, such as corporation tax and income tax, as soon as April next year (2021).

For the first time in years, we have a government with a serious mandate, not beholden to backbenchers or interest groups. It can do more or less what it likes, when it likes.

And the evidence so far is that it likes to “Get Things Done”. Delay and deliberation are, for now, out of fashion.

Quite apart from the unstoppable march of Making Tax Digital (MTD) there are plenty of totally pragmatic reasons to be using cloud software.

Making the leap: all change please

Hey, you just created a text paragraph! Somebody once said that the pen is mightier than the sword — and that was in 1839. Just imagine, with the power of digital publications and the ability to distribute your content around the world in mere seconds, writing this paragraph could be one of the most influential things you ever do!

The benefits of conducting a 2020 technology audit, most importantly, let’s be frank, there’s the cost.

Doing things the way you’ve always done them, with the same familiar vendors and the same endlessly-renewing subscriptions, is easy. It’s also how you end up paying over the odds for out-of-date, inflexible products.

And it’s also how you hand an advantage to your competitors and rivals.

Hitting a hard reset on technology costs, on the other hand, gives you a chance to reduce costs, improve cashflow, and give your practice the best chance of thriving in the face of economic instability.

Before we even touch on its inherent capabilities, the fact that Capium’s software suite covers all your practice management and cloud accounting needs at a fraction of the cost of hybrid desktop software ought to be argument enough.

Another key benefit is security. Now, there’s plenty of debate about what secure means when it comes to cloud-based software – “There is no cloud, only someone else’s computer”, say the cynics.

But who would want to return to the days of USB thumb drives or laptops left on trains? Or of servers without offsite backups destroyed by fire or flood?

And, finally, there’s availability. Desktop software is, by definition, tied to your desk. If a client calls with an urgent query when you’re out of the office or on the road, you don’t want to have to drive to the office to log on.

Having all the information you need at hand, wherever and whenever, amounts to a fundamental evolution of the accountancy profession.

The days of asking “Should we be using cloud software?” are over. Instead, the question now is “Which particular practice management package should I bet on? And how do I get started?”

Grab your stack and understand your driver

Keep it simple: start with why. Once you’re in a position to understand your economic driver you’ll very quickly begin to unpick what is adding value to your stack and what is detracting from it.

Whether it’s increasing your cost per client, improving efficiency or investing in scaling up your Practice – defining your why helps you to map out stack accordingly.

Next, it’s worth listing out your tech stack and the total annual cost based on user licences and customer requirements. With most firms it’s easy to lose sight of what a scalable or optimum technology stack looks like. The phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ has become both a joke and a legitimate piece of advice. Look across the app landscape, and yeah – there’s likely an ‘app for that’.

The accounting profession has experienced the app wave more than most professions. It sounds liberating at first – but without understanding your why you’ll quickly become bamboozled by the whole cost of your software.

Map your hardware and software stack as well as all other applications against 3 key criteria. For those familiar with Jim Collins, “Good To Great” or other famous protagonists of a Venn diagram, we recommend assessing software against: compliance, sustainability and profit per Client.

The sweet spot is for your technology to be as close to the middle as possible. Anything falling on the outer edges is prime for review. And don’t get us wrong: applications can be useful. But it’s important to maximise usage of all your tech purchases.

Finally, score your stack. No two Practices are the same but purchasing technology which falls below 45% weekly average usage and costs 15% of your Client fee will inevitably stifle growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use our simple framework, come and join us for the panel discussion alongside notable industry Accountants: Caroline Harridence, Dan Crowther and Dan Ryder.

– "Before you can move to a fully digital firm, the first step is to assess where you are now and why you want to change. This is a key stage that I have found is often overlooked and in order to assess where you are today, undertaking a technology audit is vital.

Reviewing what products you use currently, their interaction and the total costs allows you to develop a clear understanding of your starting point and also allows identification of areas where there are inefficiencies. I have found that this can often be quite an eye opener as the costs of empty, unused licenses and costs such as those for hosting can really add up.

However, from this, you can then look at how to use the technology in your firm to drive costs down and future proof your business."

Caroline Harridence, Editor in Chief Digital Accountancy Magazine

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can use our simple framework, please get in touch with us on info@capium.com – we’ll be hosting an upcoming webinar on this topic so register your interest and we will send you some more information.

Tushir Patel, Co-Founder of Capium

Co-founder of PPR Solutions in 2007, an outsourced IT Company providing resource on demand. With over 350 technical field engineers across the UK serving major blue chip and OEM Clients - acquired by ByBox Holdings Limited in 2012. Now Co-Founder of Capium, an online accounting platform designed for Accountants to accomplish accounting and tax services, whilst collaborating with Clients and Staff alike. A team of 43 who currently support over 1000 UK firms, servicing over 170,000 SMEs through the platform. The Business' focus is to empower Accountants by continuously innovating and anticipating the next bounce of the ball.

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