Part 1

Top tech to look out for 2021

AccountancyManager

AccountancyManager is a multi-award-winning, cloud-based onboarding and practice management software - designed by an accountant and used by thousands of accountants, bookkeepers and payroll businesses across the UK.

Our fully customisable solution organises and automates your practice’s admin enabling you to onboarding clients efficiently, chasing up clients automatically and gain practice-wide visibility on tasks, workflow and profitability.

We're on a mission to revolutionise the accounting industry, and by using ideas from our users, working closely with former HMRC staff and collaborating with other software businesses, we constantly develop our product to provide the best possible solution for our users.

Our support team is renowned for their human approach and dazzling problem-solving, consistently achieving over 98% satisfaction rates.

We keep a close eye on emerging tech and new challenges facing accountants and bookkeepers to find or create new ways of use utilising technology and partnerships to enhance accountancy at the day-to-day and industry level.

We're passionate about the freedom that technology provides by automating the most time-consuming admin tasks enabling accountants and bookkeepers to spend more time on their clients, business and personal lives. We work hard to ensure that AccountancyManager users and their clients are at the core of our business.

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for AccountancyManager?

The implications of the pandemic meant that users were working harder and asking for more support and developments than ever before. As a team, we worked incredibly hard to develop the system to give users the functionality they need to keep them working. It may have been a challenging year, but we've come out the other side with a better system and relationship with users. What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from AccountancyManager?

We're on a mission to revolutionise the accounting industry by finding new ways to use technology and partnerships to enhance accountancy at the day-to-day and industry level. We're passionate about the freedom that technology provides by automating the most time-consuming admin tasks enabling accountants and bookkeepers to spend more time on their clients, business and personal lives. What advice would you give to accountants in 2021?

Challenge your internal processes and explore new ways of working to increase your efficiency. Our vision is a world in which every accountant is utilising technology to eliminate limitations. Technology can enhance your practice and ultimately give you time to deliver the advisory services that clients need.

Autoentry

AutoEntry automates data entry by accurately capturing all of your invoices, receipts, expenses and statements into your accounting solution. This has productivity, efficiency and security benefits both for accountants and their clients:

For accountants, less time is spent getting to trial balance, which can then be spent sharing their knowledge and expertise with clients. It also means less physical contact with clients and their documents, and an end to the “shoebox” system of dropping off receipts, invoices and bank statements.

For accountants’ clients, it’s an easier and faster way to keep on top of receipts (just snap and send) and other paperwork, allowing them time to focus on other aspects of their business.

AutoEntry’s latest feature, AccountsPrep, helps you import and fast-code your bank statements or receipts. After uploading bank statements, invoices and receipts to AutoEntry in the usual way, the information can go to AccountsPrep, where it is reviewed, updated and fast-coded into your chosen chart of accounts template.

AccountsPrep then provides a range of reports, including a P&L, balance sheet and tax report.

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Autoentry? As it’s been for everyone else, 2020 was an eventful year for AutoEntry. Naturally, coronavirus caused disruption, including challenging times for several clients and our entire team having to work remotely (including many new hires who haven’t seen the inside of an office yet).

AutoEntry has increased its userbase in 2020. One customer told us that by choosing AutoEntry the previous year, he was preparing for covid but didn’t know it yet. This is because AutoEntry is a perfect solution for teams working remotely, by facilitating cloud-based accounting and eliminating the need to share paper documents.

What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from Autoentry?

AutoEntry will continue to expand, both with the quality and breadth of service. We are constantly working on updates, improvements and new features, many of which will be available in 2021.

The company continues to grow - in fact, we’re actively hiring right now. If it’s done the right way, every new hire grows a company’s IQ, so it’s always exciting to bring new people onboard.

What advice would you give to accountants in 2021?

Firstly, don’t panic. While the pandemic continues to pose great challenges for businesses large and small, there are also some welcome changes and opportunities. This past year has seen a sea change in how we do business. And we’re already seeing firsthand how accountants are moving into more advisory roles, thanks to automation and changes in the landscape.

I’d also advise accountants to encourage clients to go digital. If you’re not sure where to start with that, talk to someone like us. We are experts in bringing people over to the cloud.

Chaser

It’s no great insight that many businesses are having a tough time right now. What may be surprising is the impact of COVID-19 on business’ accounts receivables. An estimated 209% rise in overdue invoices has been calculated since the start of the pandemic. Even in good times it’s important to maintain consistent cash flow and avoid wasting time chasing money, especially for smaller businesses. What we learned after the 2008 crash is that when a recession comes around, getting paid on time is more crucial than ever.

Businesses spend, on average, 336 hours per year manually chasing the payment of invoices. But it does not have to be that way. Using Chaser, you and your clients can automate manual chasing by sending automatic and highly personalised payment reminders for overdue invoices, helping you get paid 16+ days sooner without losing the human touch.

Chaser is designed to help you and your clients carry out effective credit control and boost cash flow. Whether you’re an accountant acting on behalf of your client, a business owner, finance director or credit controller, a massive amount of time is saved using Chaser because we let you:

  • Stop wasting time chasing the payments of invoices by automating it instead.
  • Automatically consolidate all communications on chasing and payments in one place, so you never chase a payment twice, or forget to chase a payment!
  • Maintain the human element of chasing, with automated personalisation and reminders that always look hand-type

To date, Chaser has helped users chase over £3 billion worth of invoices. Chaser has been named the Accounting Excellence ‘Cloud App of the Year’ three years in a row (2017, 2018, and 2019). It was also named Xero’s ‘App Partner of the Year’ (2016), and App Partner of the Month (August 2019).

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Chaser

2020 has been a year of massive change for Chaser in terms of leadership, product vision, marketing innovation and commercial strategy despite the changes caused to all businesses as a result of the global pandemic. With the recession, smaller teams, and bigger challenges companies are facing when trying to get paid, there’s never been a better time to embrace automation in accountancy. Chaser’s evolution this year jump started the development of a new vision: to create a world where all businesses have the confidence they will get paid for their work. What do we have to look forward to in 2021 from Chaser?

Chaser is set to have one of its most exciting years yet. With consistent growth in the second half of 2020, Chaser is aiming to open up it’s platform to additional integrations (Shhhhh… We aren’t revealing which ones just yet). Additionally, we’ve just released a payment portal for our customers to use, which will come into full force in 2021 - giving our customers the ability to offer payment plans. Lastly, another exciting feature to look forward to is multi-channel chasing - but more on that in the weeks ahead. We always like to have a few surprises up our sleeve.

What advice would you give to accountants in 2021?

The pandemic has forced many SMEs, and their accountants, to consider how to run their businesses more effectively. A dramatic drop in revenues, smaller teams from redundancies, remote-working as a result of lockdowns, has created an extra urgency related to automation, alongside much-needed visibility on cash flow. We would recommend that accountants work closely with their clients to help offer credit control automation solutions, like Chaser, so that their cash position is not put under unnecessary strain.

Expend

Expend saves businesses time, money and effort through an innovative expense management suite, which includes payment cards, receipt and invoice management, mileage tracking, spend approvals and expense reimbursements.

A flexible tool for company expenses, Expend accommodates all expense types. An employee can use their Expend card (in accordance with their individual spending policy), or another company card, their personal bank card or cash, and submit the relevant expense report within the mobile app, in seconds.

Instant notifications and automated reminders ensure employees complete their expenses efficiently and accurately, enabling Finance Teams to view company wide spending in real-time and removing the need to chase for receipts. Finance Teams and Accountants can track all company spending as it happens, at any time, using a single source of truth.

Once approved, expenses are synced neatly into accounting software such as Xero or QuickBooks, mapping each expense to the relevant category or tracking group and attaching receipt data, ready for easy reconciliation in one tap.

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Expend? Well, it’s been a year to remember, that’s for sure. Thankfully we’ve continued to grow well in 2020 with some great new customers choosing Expend plus Xero awarded us as an App Partner of the month.

For our customers, efficient accounting and keeping on top of business spending has been as important as ever so it has been great to have had fantastic positive feedback from our customers. This all continues to help us to keep driving forward to work hard on making Expend the best it can be.

As a very process-driven company, we’ve adapted to remote working well and have tweaked the formula over the months. We’ve found we’ve improved productivity and rolled out frequent updates and improvements on the platform (to our customers’ delight). What can we look forward to for 2021 from Expend? Platform improvements, new features and expansion. I always say Expend sweats the small stuff. If you’re involved with your company’s spending and/or expenses process, those annoying little things that you wish could either be made better, “automated” or taken off your to-do list, these are the things firmly on our priority list. We listen to those requests closely; internally we refer to these innovations as the “Expend Difference”.

What advice would you give accountants for 2021? Embrace and try the tech, it can make your life so much easier.

We understand the choice of software on offer can be overwhelming, with many dedicated offerings tackling different things, such as services for mileage tracking, document scanning and spending.

Often services are troubled by legacy issues and because they are separate, they can be somewhat disjointed from each other. This can hinder an uber-efficient process and flow for companies. This is why we promote Expend as a modern, time and money-saving consolidation platform where all the tools work together seamlessly, with one login for all your businesses and clients.

Making things easier and faster for your practice, your clients and/or employees is a worthwhile investment.

Fathom

Fathom combines insightful reporting, cash flow forecasting and actionable financial insights into one refreshingly easy business management solution. Integrates with Xero, QuickBooks and other leading accounting platforms. Ideal for businesses and advisors, Fathom provides custom KPI tracking, management reports, three-way forecasts, dashboards and consolidations. With Fathom, you get deeper insights into your accounting data so you can make better business decisions.

Take your forecasting to the next level by combining powerful, easy-to-use technology with smart predictions, drivers and formulas to build better forecasts. Fathom’s integrated business planning tools allows simultaneous planning and forecasting – included is all the magic you’d expect from Fathom; a slick interface with dynamic visualisations and seamless integrations.

Fathom’s beautiful visual interface presents the meaning behind the data in a simple, easy to understand way that your clients will love. And it’s fully customisable reporting function means you can deliver world-class management reports in minutes.

Its suite of in-depth tools help you assess profitability, cash flow, growth and other KPIs. You can also easily compare, rank and benchmark your companies, clients or franchisees and identify potential weak points.

So if you’re looking for an all-in-one reporting and forecasting solution, start your 14-day free Fathom trial today

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Fathom? Thankfully our 65 staff across four continents are all safe and well. Like every company, we had to adjust our approach to serving our customers, but we’re fortunate to have a product that helps them to stay close to their numbers and create plans to navigate through whatever happens. What can we look forward to for 2021 from Fathom? November 2020 saw early adopters get access to the beta of our Cash Flow Forecasting functionality, and in 2021 we’ll continue to roll that out. We’re also launching our certification offering that helps customers become Fathom experts. And finally, our Advisable education platform will continue to expand, offering insight from leading global accountants on how to design, price and deliver advisory services. What advice would you give accountants for 2021? Clients need advice like never before. By using tools like Fathom to analyse the data, plan scenarios, and forecast options, accountants around the world can help their clients survive and thrive.

Flowlens

Flowlens is cloud manufacturing and service software, focusing on SME equipment manufacturers/dealers.

It standardises disjointed and error-prone business processes together to reduce wasted effort, transforming process transparency, efficiency and traceability.

As well as significant time-saving benefits, this results in faster, and more reliable reporting across the business.

Flowlens combines front-end CRM tools for managing pipelines, and sales quotations, which are linked to back-end purchasing, stock management, MRP, Bill of Materials & job cards for fulfilling orders.

With a user and mobile friendly interface, intuitive workflows, real-time dashboards and integrations with Xero, Quickbooks Online, Kashflow and Sage50, Flowlens’ MRP systems transforms SME equipment manufacturers.

Many manufacturers overlook after-sales revenue streams, but Flowlens enables these with its in-built Service Module.

With a dedicated onboarding service to help manufacturers make the change, we also work with professional advisors to make this as seamless as possible.

Flowlens customers span sectors such as industrial, agricultural and waste equipment, electrical engineering, automotive, sustainable energy and power, pumps and ventilation, and even climbing frames! See flowlens.com for case studies.

A free trial period is available for companies to review the software and simulate common processes to assess fit. Flowlens is available to advise on data imports, system setup and workflow

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Flowlen? 2020 has put a lot of things in perspective for businesses, and for small manufacturers exposed to the pressures brought on by the pandemic this has sharpened the focus on systems and processes.

As a result, we’ve seen strong growth in 2020, adding new customers and expanding existing accounts. Our product hasn’t stood still either, adding important enhancements to the CRM, MRP and Service suite, and planning for 2021. What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from Flowlen? Product-wise we continue to focus requirements that make our customer’s lives easier. This will include more capabilities around inventory MPR and planning work, but also more integrations.

First off, we are launching a Commercial Invoice feature that will take some of the paperwork burden away from exporters who’re grappling with the new post-brexit administrative regime, and we’ll continue to listen to customer’s pain points in this area.

We will build on existing partnerships with manufacturing focused accountants and advisors, and will also look to expand our customer base in the southern hemisphere after early successes this year. What advice would you give accountants for 2021? 2021 is going to be an interesting year, but if 2020 has taught us anything, a focus on productivity and resilience will be key. Many firms will be feeling pressures and they need to rely on their accountants to help them see opportunities to streamline their operations. Digital transformation is now part of more conversations, and with products like Flowlens connecting to Xero, Quickbooks, Sage 50 and Kashflow, the opportunity exists to release businesses from expensive non-value adding and disjointed systems. Accountants who can help their clients reduce that administrative burden will be out in front for sure.

For more information on Flowlens click here

Fluidly

Tired of using one product for credit control, another for forecasting and something else entirely to help clients get a loan? Fluidly’s simple solution offers a brand new way of thinking about cashflow.

No more paying for various apps and subscriptions, and managing relationships with different account managers. With Fluidly’s Intelligent Cashflow service, get everything you need to know about your clients’ cash situation in one place.

Fluidly automates the complex, time-consuming tasks of cashflow forecasting. Our tools take minutes to build a forecast for each client, so you can get on with helping more businesses.

Once we’ve identified cash shortfalls, our funding platform can find fast, tailored business funding solutions for your clients in a compliant way. We cover the entire lending market, from traditional loans to asset finance, and do all the hard work for you to find the best options for your client.

We’re by your side from day one, helping you make the most of our tools and roll out new services. We provide hands-on support alongside award-winning tech, so you can hit the ground running.

Provide a wealth of value to your clients, and become their go-to trusted advisor. Attract new businesses with services your competitors can’t offer, and keep existing clients happier.

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Fluidly? Clearly 2020 has been a year like no other. It’s been incredibly tough for cash-strapped business owners, and accountants have been stretched to their limits, so our mission has never felt more important.

We’re proud to have played a part in helping accountants to support business owners through the pandemic, allowing them to plan for uncertainty and secure vital funding. Between February and March alone, month-on-month usage of our cashflow management tool increased by 80%.

It’s also been a very busy year for us in terms of developing the product and Fluidly has really transformed over the last 12 months. We’ve made it faster, simpler and more intuitive. Plus, with our new funding and

scenario planning tools, we now cover every aspect of cashflow, from forecasting to debtor management to taking out a loan.

Despite a turbulent year for lenders, we’ve also helped businesses access finance at a critical time. What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from Fluidly? We are really pleased to have just been nominated for Xero’s Practice App of the Year again - and plan to develop our relationship with accountants even further by empowering them to offer scalable advisory services.

Accountants, seen as the most trusted source of impartial advice by 86% of SMEs, are perfectly poised to improve business health and decision-making. But they currently lack the technology and capacity to deliver high-quality, proactive advisory at scale.

With our AI-powered forecasts, scenario-planning and funding tools we want to collaborate with and support accountants to improve their clients financial decision-making, in a hassle-free way.

We’ve also got big plans for scaling our funding offering.

We want to help even more accountants get their clients access to the funds they need in a way that isn't too time consuming for them. With the government schemes set to end, and businesses’ finance options becoming more limited, accountants will be able to provide their clients with the best funding options from across the entire market with ease by using Fluidly. What advice would you give accountants for 2021? With more uncertainty ahead, businesses are going to continue to need their accountants to offer comprehensive and advisory services.

To avoid burnout, and to leverage the opportunity to grow a profitable service proposition, efficiency will be key, alongside the right technology.

As the app market continues to rapidly expand, all-in-one solutions that can reduce overheads and time pressures will be accountants greatest asset.

iwocaPay

iwocaPay helps B2B businesses take control of their cash flow. Getting invoices paid up front, while giving their customers more flexibility - all through a simple pay link added to the invoice.

As soon as your customer completes checkout, the invoice is paid by iwocaPay. There’s just a 3% charge for any invoices paid with iwocaPay - they’ll never ask you for the cash if your customer doesn’t pay and there's no other costs, subscription fees or minimum invoice quantities.

Customers get up to 90 days to settle the invoice, with the first 30 days interest free. At the representative rate of 3.33% a £5,000 invoice spread over the full 90 days would cost a total of £5,174.72. The actual rate received will be subject to application. They can pay instalments early or make extra ones anytime without any fees. So they don’t have to use the full 90 days, and won’t pay for any unused days if they settle up early.

Karbon

Karbon is how you run your accountancy practice. It brings all your planning, clients, work and communication together, online, in one place.

You can access Karbon from anywhere, so it doesn’t matter if you are in the office or your entire team is working at home. Everyone has full visibility and nothing falls through the cracks. You can see who is working on what, where every job stands, what was last said to a client, and who needs more attention.

Timelines of all activity and communication related to a job or client are automatically compiled — including email, documents, and team conversations. And you can build templates for each process to deliver consistent, effective services to every client.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s task automation, client collaboration, KPI tracking, budgeting, timesheets, integrations with your favorite tools, and much more.

In November 2020 the entire customer base was surveyed to find out how they use and benefit from Karbon. The survey found out that Karbon saves each employee 13 hours each week, and productivity per employee increases by 21%.

Karbon is how you run your accountancy practice in 2021 and beyond. Learn why so many firms are relying on Karbon at karbonhq.com

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for Karbon? It goes without saying that this year has been a wild one for everyone. Accountants have had to assist their clients in ways they probably never anticipated. A customer I spoke to recently said they felt like their job this year has been 20% accountant, 20% friend, 60% psychologist!

While accountants were adapting to everything going on, most moved to work fully remote overnight. This is one of the key drivers behind more firms than ever before turning to Karbon this year. And I’m incredibly proud of our team, product, and the fact that we are enabling so many practices and accountants across the world to grow, maintain peace of mind, and assist their own clients in their time of need.

The Karbon app has continued to evolve and improve rapidly—highlighted by the fact we released almost 20 product updates. One of these was our huge new Time & Budgets functionality released just a few months ago—one of most significant product releases yet.

Just a couple of weeks ago we survey our entire customer base to find out how they use and benefit from Karbon. 32% responded, and we learned that on average, Karbon saves each employee 13 hours each week, and productivity per employee increases by 21%. You can’t argue with those numbers! What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from Flowlen? Our product development isn’t going to slow down and we’ll continue to ship new updates every 2-3 weeks. Our roadmap includes some really exciting new updates — which we’ll be releasing every 2-3 weeks — that will continue to cement Karbon as the cornerstone of any accountancy firm.

These updates include new ways to manage capacity and resources, manage your own individual day, and set priorities across your team. Development of these is already well underway and we’re looking forward to sharing more early in the year. If I say too much more now, I’ll get into trouble! What advice would you give accountants for 2021? Learn from what has happened in 2020. Even in a post-vaccine world, things won’t return to the ‘way they were’. So firms need to ensure that they are prepared for the future and anything else that might be thrown at them. This future-proof mindset will impact everything from how you hire, what clients you want, the services you provide, and of course, what technology you use that enables all of this.

Choose systems that can scale with you. Look for options that integrate with other tools in your tech stack. And avoid any outdated, ‘fake cloud’ solution that provides none of the benefits that cloud-native applications can. There is no perfect time to implement a new system, but the sooner you bite the bullet, the sooner you’ll start reaping the rewards.

MyWorkpapers

MyWorkpapers is a leading cloud-based workpapers platform for accountants and auditors.

Offering the options of customisable workpapers packs, including Year-end Mercia and Audit Mercia, MyWorkpapers unlocks all the benefits of the cloud in terms of remote and multi-site working, business resilience and paperless working.

It then combines these inherent benefits of the cloud with an innovative and flexible platform, designed around the needs of users, enabling oversight, collaboration, accountability and quality control.

Fully integrated with the leading business cloud packages, MyWorkpapers imports trial balance data for use in its cloud-based monthly, quarterly, year-end and audit workpapers.

MyWorkpapers then enables practices to systematise recurring tasks and functions, collaborate on tasks for clients, queries and review points, as well as offering a range of workflow management features, including full audit trails.

The content packs used on the platform are constantly updated with the latest standards, programmes, checklists and procedures.

Data can then be fed back to clients through integrations with IRIS, Forbes and Microsoft Office 365, as well as new Xero two-way integration.

Ultimately, MyWorkpapers enables accountants to focus their time on the areas where they can add the most value – exercising their professional judgment and providing advisory services to their clients.

Q&A with CEO

How has 2020 been for MyWorkpapers? Just as for everyone else, 2020 has not been the year we were expecting when Big Ben chimed midnight last New Year.

We have been relatively unaffected ourselves, owing to the cloud-based nature of our business, and we were able to implement working from home instantly and with no impact on our service to clients. Our team worked quickly early in the pandemic to produce content packs to help our clients assess systematically and efficiently which of the dozens of Government support packages their clients might be eligible for.

However, beyond that, we have largely continued as planned with joint ventures with Mercia and HAT group to bring the benefits of the MyWorkpapers platform to an even larger number of firms. We have also been working hard to develop our MyWorkpapers Lite offering, which is designed to help small practices achieve rapid growth, while we are in the final stages of making MyWorkpapers available in Ireland.

Our efforts have been recognised with a shortlisting at the Cloud Excellence Awards 2020 and being named the UK’s 23rd fastest-growing technology business in the Deloitte Tech Fast 50.

What do we have to look forward to for 2021 from MyWorkpapers? Firstly, we are going to be there for our clients to ensure they can devote as much time as possible to supporting their own clients through the recovery. Beyond that, we have a lot of exciting plans in the pipeline to bring more industry-leading content to MyWorkpapers and to bring MyWorkpapers to more industry-leading practices. Obviously, we have got the launch of MyWorkpapers Lite and MyWorkpapers Ireland, both of which we expect to grow rapidly. I am not able to say much more, save to say that we are looking forward to unveiling several exciting plans soon. What advice would you give accountants for 2021? That they need to have working practices in place that allow Partners and other senior staff to focus as much as possible on advisory.

We have had a lot of positive news on the vaccine front in recent weeks, which means we can be cautiously optimistic that the various Coronavirus restrictions will be lifted by the summer.

However, for businesses and particularly for small businesses, it is not going to be a case of simply flicking a switch and returning to normal.

Many will have seen their finances decimated since March and we know vast numbers have been forced to make key staff redundant. The businesses that have been affected the most by the Coronavirus restrictions are going to need a lot of support from experienced professionals to get their operations either back up and running, if they have had to close, or back up to full speed, if they have seen reduced trade.

Accountants have a lot of value to offer here, and so practices must systematise their workflows as much as possible, with oversight built-in, so that Partners can help clients rebuild and recover.

Moreover, it is not at all clear that things will simply spring back to where they were last March once restrictions are lifted. Not only is it going to take the economy some time to recover, but also working practices in many businesses have changed so drastically, it is not clear that they will actually want to return to the previous status quo, if these changes have been successful.

This does not only mean an expansion of working from home, although I am sure we will see that. It also means retailers that have moved online, restaurants that have launched successful delivery options and others that have pivoted their businesses in new directions that have turned out to be rewarding. Businesses in these positions will also be seeking advice as to how they can cement these changes into sustainable business models for the future.

It looks like 2021 will be another challenging year for accountants, but one in which they will once again have an important contribution to make.

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