Improve bookkeeping efficiency with cloud accounting tools

Improve bookkeeping efficiency with cloud accounting tools and apps

Bookkeepers are no longer wizened old men sitting behind desks stacked high with papers, toiling over thick leather-bound ledgers that contain company transactions going back decades. Nowadays we’re a diverse group of individuals who, if savvy, are working less with ink and pen and more with app and cloud. Leveraging cloud accounting tools and apps offer myriad benefits for businesses and bookkeepers alike, not the least of which is efficiency improvements.

My small business bookkeeping firm, Legacy Advantage, operates exclusively on the cloud, using QuickBooks Online and a host of apps to create paperless bookkeeping environments. Yep, that’s right. Paperless. We don’t have to spend time filing, sorting, storing or searching through reams of paper documents, nor fear that these could one day be lost or destroyed by flood, fire, or simple misplacement.

But that’s not the only way that cloud accounting tools and apps improve efficiency.

Cloud accounting, whether through QBO or other software, gives bookkeepers and business owners real-time financial information that is accessible anytime, anywhere. This real-time access allows for greater efficiency in bookkeeper-client collaboration as well as in the performance of important tasks such as invoicing. The latter can be done by remote (via a mobile or tablet) immediately after a job is completed to encourage prompt payment.

Now, it’s true that setting up and streamlining a cloud-based bookkeeping eco-system for clients do require bookkeepers to invest a fair bit of time in the setup. You’ll need to thoroughly assess the needs of your client, determine what services are vital to their operations, and then figure out how you can best automate and digitize those activities. But believe me, it’s told well spent when you consider how much time you’ll need saving on the other end.

Let me tell you about some of the apps we use with QuickBooks Online and how this help improve bookkeeping efficiency.

Plooto — Manage supplier bills with ease.

Cheques are so 1900s. Not to mention a hassle. Plooto enables you to queue up electronic fund transfers to pay your supplier bills. Payments can be approved by you or the client from anywhere in the world and that’s it, done! The money will be drawn from the bank and automatically deposited into your vendor’s account.

HubDoc — Never pull a bank statement again.

Traditionally, business owners wait for bank statements to arrive in the mail and then pass these on to their bookkeepers, or log into their online banking system, download the statements and send these via email. Instead, we just connect our clients’ bank accounts to HubDoc so that those statements can be retrieved automatically.

Receipt Bank — A shoebox? Bookkeeper, please.

Tired of trying to track down your clients’ lost or forgotten expense receipts? With apps like Receipt Bank, your client can simply snap a photo of a receipt the moment they receive it and … that’s it! They can chuck the paper away. The digitized copy will be recorded, categorized, and attached to their expense report. Receipt Bank stores receipts for seven years and the photos are CRA-friendly.

POS Systems — Make sure you’re driving the right car!

Though not apps per se, it’s worth noting that there are thousands of POS systems out there (Square, Lightspeed, Vonigo, etc.). If you’re working with POS-driven clients, know that some of these systems integrate well with QuickBooks and other cloud accounting tools while others do not. Your goal should be to find the best possible pairing that enables you to automate as much of the information capture as possible and turn those POS transactions into useful data points.

Cloud and Proud

Using a combination of the cloud accounting tools and the apps I’ve mentioned above, you can significantly improve your bookkeeping efficiency by automating the tracking and payment of vendor bills, the pulling of bank statements, the capture of receipts and expense information, and the recording of POS transactions.

But this is only a snippet of what can be done. There are hundreds of apps out there and innumerable ways to customize the bookkeeping eco-system to suit the needs of your clients, not to mention make your life easier. If you’re still sitting at a desk, surrounded by dusty tomes and filing cabinets that are about to burst … well, one of my employees just filed their work from a beach in Mexico. Just sayin’.