The past year has resulted in nearly everyone having to change their working practice in some way, with many having to work from home for the first time. Now is a good time to consider whether your current accounting software is working as well as it could and to explore some alternative options.
Key issues faced by finance functions
One of the biggest issues for finance function of rural businesses and landed estates is the volume of data that requires processing. Depending on the business size, collating and posting invoices and bank statements onto your software can be a full-time job. Cloud software gives several options for the automatic creation of repeating invoices, connecting directly to bank transaction feeds and processing the data from invoices using photos and PDFs.
Desktop software is usually limited to one computer whereas cloud software can be used on the on multiple devices. The latter enables teams to collaborate remotely and mobile apps allow access of the data from anywhere. Cloud software automatically backs up so there is no requirement to use up data storage for back-ups and updates happen automatically.
Due to time-intensive data processing, it can sometimes be a struggle to provide timely reporting. The automation of these processing tasks on the cloud means that data will be more easily kept up-to-date and reports can be run on a real-time basis. Real-time data allows businesses to make more timely decisions, based on accurate and up-to-date financial information.
Reporting for farms and property
One of the key concerns people often have when considering whether to move to the cloud is whether it will provide reporting specific to their business, particularly if it was not developed with farms and rural businesses in mind. There are now several add-on options which can be integrated with cloud software which address this.
The last few years have seen the introduction of farming add-ons which allow you to set up details of all of your fields and animals within the system. You can then allocate income and expenditure to very specific business areas and report on results per animal, per field or by harvest year. These are essentially cloud versions of the stock and harvest management software that many rural businesses are already familiar with.
These add-ons allow scenario planning so that you can see how your results would be affected by a change in milk or grain price. It can give you a real-time estimation of the impact a decision to purchase, for example, new machinery will have on your cashflow and you can consolidate multiple farms into a single report to see how your business is doing as a whole.
Property management add-ons are also available. They will automate a lot of the repetitive tasks like invoicing and act as a traditional rental terrier. At the same time you can use them to communicate directly with your tenants and tradesmen, allowing, for example, for remote authorisation of quotations or invoices or tenant reporting of property issues.
As people become more accustomed to remote working, real-time information and the increased use of more visual and representative reporting, cloud accounting is a good option to consider.
The automation available means that your staff and your accountants will have more time to add value to your business rather than spending hours on monotonous data entry.
If you would like to discuss the opportunities and options available with cloud accounting, please do get in touch.
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.
This article was previously published on Smith & Williamson prior to the launch of Evelyn Partners.