The danger now, is that we head off into an article that was probably written about 10 years ago regaling the wonders and benefits of the internet. Could do, but a bit old hat. However, what is less old hat, and you’ll have to excuse me as in my heart of hearts I’m an accountant and I’m about to get excited about… accountancy. Really? Yeah, it’s all changed, it’s changed for the better and we are right at the front of that change. Yippee.

So, what’s so new and exciting that’s causing all the fuss? Predominantly it’s all about cloud accounting. There are a number of great players out there most notably Xero and Quick Books on-line (QBO). We have lent heavily towards Xero for a host of reasons, but the premise on which they operate is quite similar. Firstly, the cloud. Now I always think I’m talking to Mum when I try and explain anything to do with IT as she (clearly) comes from a different era – largely, it seems from old footage that they walked a lot faster than they do today. So the cloud is not really a cloud it’s just a massive great server (that I imagine to be about the size of a portacabin) that just isn’t on your premises. And the genius is, that our good friend the internet allows us to connect to that server wherever we are in the World. Now that has to be result on just about any level. Firstly, you don’t have to wire your whole office to reach the server in the cupboard under the stairs, you can simply connect to any wireless router. Secondly, do you have any idea how much those things cost to run? It’s a fortune – they burn so much electricity. And lastly, you don’t have any of those translucent greasy-haired geeks wandering around grunting whenever anything goes wrong. Joy. (We love ‘em really, but you wouldn’t want to share a sandwich with one.)

The joy of being able to connect with Xero or QBO via the Internet from just about anywhere, on just about any device, should be pretty obvious. Let’s face it, we are addicted to information these days. Not all of it is, perhaps in my mind alone, particularly useful information, but nonetheless we are addicted. In fact we are addicted to it and love sharing it. (God, that sounds like the re-run of Trainspotting). But, it can be useful when we need a bit of reassurance about our business and we can flick in and out of Xero in a heartbeat and see what today’s sales were, or who we owe money to or even who owes us money. It’s simple and, if you are on top of it, it’s live.

There’s also some really useful add-ons to Xero and QBO, like Receipt Bank. An app that uses OCR (Optical Character Reader) tech to scan a digital copy of an invoice (whether you’ve simply taken a photo of it, or received it via email, or someone gave it to you) and captures all the details – the supplier, the amounts, the VAT, the date etc etc. You approve it and boom, post it straight into Xero. So how long does that take? About 5 seconds? And the best bit is that you don’t need to keep any hard copies. Both Receipt Bank and Xero or QBO will store a copy on their server and you can access a PDF of that at anytime by just using the search facility. Now that alone has got to be worth it. I mean how many boxes of old accounting records are stuffed in garages, or up in the attic that no one will ever look in. Here’s an idea, instead of wasting our money on a nuclear reactor at Hinkley why don’t we just set fire to all our old accounting records in some furnace some place? I’m sure that would generate enough electricity to run this planet for years. Anyway, back to the point.

but can you really work with us from anywhere in the world?

Well, the answer to that is, of course we can. Distance is not an issue! Whilst we have to stay largely in the same place, you can go wherever your work sends you. You don’t need to be connected to any internal server, you can access your accounting software through any internet connection. In fact, I forgot to mention that most banks feed automatically into Xero everyday. So that means even before you have sprinted down to the pool to throw your towel over the sun-bed the bank has fed all of the previous days transactions seamlessly, and without error, into Xero simply waiting your approval. Great. I mean really great. That saves absolutely hours and is 100% accurate.

There’s probably loads more things, but I’m hungry so I’m going to keep the next bit brief. Xero also allows us to look at your bookkeeping at any time and we can set up alerts to make sure you are on top of things. For example, if you haven’t reconciled your bank for a month we get to know about it. Now trust me, that is becoming 21st Century social crime. People at stand up drinks parties will soon open conversations with ‘All well? Bank reconciled?’ Instead of the old fashioned ‘Good day?’. And on Xero it’s really easy. We’ve got a guy who runs a big brewery in South London who does all his bookkeeping whilst he eats his cornflakes (probably a smashed avocado in reality) in about 10 minutes. It’s all changing and it’s really exciting.

So there you go, you do your work where you want, we’ll stay in our lovely office in Cornwall and we can still be friends. We can talk to you on a video call, look at your records at the same time as you, and have much better conversations because all the grunt work has been done. We can now discuss how to get the business moving, or what type of wax you should be putting on your surfboard.

Exciting times and if you are yet to (fully) embrace Xero or QBO give us a call and let’s talk it through. You’d be an exception if it doesn’t work for you and you’d best start planning where you are going travelling.