Change can be challenging even for the most experienced accountant but currently it is almost compulsory. Technology is ever changing, and AI and machine learning is the future. If we do not get on the bandwagon now, we will unfortunately be left behind.
Our clients are also requiring more from us as we are now living in the digital era. Clients want to see information in real time and that means that we can no longer be using desktop software. We as accountants must do more to keep our clients happy.
The biggest hurdle when implementing any new accounting software is the feeling of not having the time or the capacity to take in all this change. Most of us are already at our max capacity with the current clients’ work and now the thought of keeping up with all this new software is giving us sleepless nights but be assured that the process is quite a painless one.
My first suggestion is choosing a handful of apps that will benefit you and your current client and master it.
This now creates the question of timing and when is the right time to take on the gigantic task of implementing all this new software? We must ask ourselves when implementing new software if the time saved in the future will outweigh the time it will take to learn and implement the new software.
Our firm started adopting cloud technology about five years ago. Here are the lessons that we learnt in the five years that have passed.
- Firstly, you need to train yourself on the software. I would suggest doing this sooner rather than later if you haven’t started already. QuickBooks Online has a great certification course which is easy to understand and gives you the best possible knowledge to utilise the software to the fullest.
- You need to understand everything the software can and cannot do as this will help in future to know when an add-on will be applicable.
- You would need to understand the security and safety around the software as this could be a very popular question from your clients once you start onboarding them.
- Once you feel you are completely on top of the software, its time to train your staff. You will need to explain to them the reason for change and how it will benefit them and the clients in the long run.
- Once you and your team feel comfortable with the software, the onboarding of your clients will begin and the best time to do this would be at the beginning of the new financial year.
In the first weeks of your new financial year, you will be finalising and closing the books of for all your clients. This means that you will only be taking opening balances into the new software. Yes, it might seem like a huge task, but this is a much simpler process than switching a client in the middle of the financial year. This also forces us to get year-end done faster than you normally would to get the clients onto the software. Starting this change in the new financial year may sound daunting but if you adopt the change in stages it will make it much more palatable. At year-end, our biggest task is the actual year-end itself. Provisional tax is out the way and your EMP501 reconciliations are only needed by the end of June. So, the period between March to May is quite open besides your normal daily tasks. Think of it this way, if you want to switch a client on in the middle of the year, 90% of the time, you will want to start the books off in the new software from the beginning of the financial year which will ultimately give you double work as you would need to duplicate the work already done. Taking on a new client is a completely different ball game. We would want to do that as soon as possible.
You will see that all cloud-based software options offer some sort of conversion from one system to theirs, but I personally feel that you should only take certain information into the new system. What we have learned is that conversions can be quite messy, and this can make us weary about the change and start doubting the software. We first do a clean up on the current software of the clients file. We only export the necessary customers, suppliers, item or services and chart of accounts. If the customer or supplier is outdated and irrelevant, there is no need to add them in to the new software. I would also reorganise the chart of accounts and group them as needed. Once your old file is cleaned up, you can now import that data into the new software. With the customers and supplies, you simply take on opening balances. You also don’t delete the old file as it can be used for referencing purposes.
The onboarding of your client’s data would probably take a month, so hopefully at the end of March you would have completely onboarded all your clients. The next step would be introducing your client to his new software. You would need to explain to him the reason for change as well as the ways this new system will benefit him. He would be using this software to run his business and you would use it to offer him business advisory services as well as his normal compliance related needs.
I hope that the above tips will assist you with implementing your new software. I guarantee you that once you make the change, you will never look back. Our firm changed five years ago, and it was the best decision that we have made thus far. Once you have completely implemented your software and have started reaping the benefits, you will realise that any obstacles associated with the change was so small in comparison. And remember that it is never too late to get started. I wish you Good Luck with your journey forward!
Article written by: By Nadine Chetty, BAP(SA)