What can accounting automation bring to your business?

It’s 2021 and over the last 30 years, technology has massively changed the way we look at money and it’s all for the better, from contactless payments to instant transfers and cryptocurrency, for example, undoubtedly the evolution of technology in finance has been amazing for everybody but to paint the picture of where we now are, we must know where we’ve come from…

  • In 1870, Western Union debuted the electronic fund transfer (EFT) which was the first electronic transaction ever meaning that consumers could pay for goods and services without having to be physically present at the point-of-sale.
  • 1980s marked the beginning of internet banking in parallel to the emergence of internet & lots of banks had over a million customers by the beginning of the 21st century.
  • In the UK, September 2007, Barclaycard distributed the first contactless card.
  • By 2025, there will be less that 5 billion cash transactions in the UK and more than 20 billion card transactions.
Chart showing rising payments by debit card and declining cash use

The picture of where we are now is still evolving but one thing that is clear to see is that money is becoming more digital and technology is being used to make money more accessible, convenient and easier to spend.

When it comes to technology in business finance, we still have a way to go.

For whatever reason, company accounting is still done using slow, manual, old-fashioned processes which involve spreadsheets, paper export reports and in some cases, even in paper trays!! – despite the world moving to a faster, more agile, more efficient way with money, some businesses aren’t there yet.

Those days should be behind us, we have the technology to make accounting more accurate, faster and far more productive. It shouldn’t be a mammoth task to get your ledger in order, and it shouldn’t take a week to close the books.

What can accounting automation can bring to your business?

  • Save time – The main reason most people use automation within finance is to take those slow, repetitive tasks off their own plate, giving them extra time for more important and interesting work!
  • Productivity – The time you create should be put to good use, work to add value to the rest of the company and clients rather than staying busy on less impactful work.
  • Accurate data – As humans, we’re prone to making mistakes and the more documents and data you process, the more likely you are to produce errors without noticing. Software is designed to repeat tasks in the exact same way so mistakes are rare. Business leaders also count on accurate data to make business critical decisions so accuracy is a must!
  • Readily available data Most accounting automation software or tools are cloud-based which means that documents, data, contacts, numbers are available whenever you need, wherever you are. No more sifting through heaps of paperwork or file cabinets.
  • Security – Hacks and data leaks are a thing and we are all a little wary of them but digital data is far safer than having physical documents for important and sensitive data.
  • Working from anywhere – During COVID in early 2020, we were surprised to find out how many businesses had to outsource accounting support because their staff couldn’t physically be in the office. Investing in the right technology solution for accounting, Finance teams and external accountants can access the right files, data and dashboards to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Getting started with revolutionising your financial processes…

Maximity has been helping businesses go digital for over 20 years now and our leadership team has put together a comprehensive, essential health check so that you can receive a full analysis of your month-end processes to understand where the right changes can be made to save you more than just money and time. Learn more about what’s involved in our health checks here.

If you’d like to talk with a member of the Maximity team then please call 01827 312 278 or email info@maximity.co.uk.

For more useful tips and tricks please visit our resources page.

Eliminate all of your Spreadsheets woes

It’s common knowledge that there is software and tools in the finance industry that can make our lives easier as bookkeepers and accountants but many businesses still choose to muddle through. A lot of businesses are becoming more efficient using software like QuickBooks, Sage, FreshBooks, Xero, KashFlow but there is still a huge percentage of the month end process the relies on using Excel and this can be affecting your role and business more than you think.

So, what are the biggest challenges faced whilst using spreadsheets?

  • Duplicated data
  • Missing data
  • Different versions of spreadsheets
  • Ancient spreadsheets
  • Complicated, inaccurate and hard to navigate data

How does this affect my business?

  • Duplicated data can lead to errors and over estimations on key financial decisions
  • Similarly to duplicated data, missing data can create imbalanced observations, cause biased estimates and lead to invalid conclusions.
  • Having multiple team members transfer and amend a single spreadsheet can cause loss of organisation and inconsistent data, not only that, for the user, locating or chasing a team member down for the correct version can become a part time job in itself. Microsoft Teams can revolutionise your company culture and process, contact us to find out how.
  • Bad data has a dramatic impact on operational efficiency and if a loss in revenue wasn’t enough, poor spreadsheets can cause your employees to lose their morale, decrease their efficiency all whilst generating a negative perception of your company. After customers, employees are most affected by bad process and data.

How Maximity can help

  • We can help you evaluate your current spreadsheets
  • We can review the role that spreadsheets play in your business
  • We can train you to build more effective spreadsheets
  • We can help modernise your spreadsheets
  • We can write spreadsheets from scratch for you

We will provide you with a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) + clear recommendation of how we could work with you to address the points raised.

  • Review what you do and why you do it.
  • Ensure every activity has a purpose and value.
  • Review the efficiency and effectiveness of each activity.
  • Review the spreadsheets within the process.
  • Evaluate against business growth plans.
  • Assess activities against business best practice.

What will the benefits be to my business?

  • Stop fighting your month end process
  • Less mistakes and rework
  • Improved employee morale through confidence in the process
  • Increased reliability on key information for decision making
  • Make decisions faster, with confidence
  • Takes less time and business resource
  • Increased productivity as staff have more time to do other business activities

Submit this short form to talk to a team member about your spreadsheets woes.

PowerApps solution for Lichfield City Council

Lichfield City Council has enlisted the help of a Tamworth-based IT support, training and consultancy firm to bolster its technology infrastructure. 

Maximity has developed a bespoke app, used as part of Microsoft Office365 software, for the Open Spaces team at the council, to help streamline some of the team’s administrative tasks. 

Through the app, the Open Spaces team can collect information on public spaces, including footpaths, play areas and bus shelters across the city, keep up-to-date records of visits and findings, and set reminders for when inspections of certain areas are due. 

The new Open Spaces app enables the team to log the findings from each visit, including notes and photographs on an iPad whilst they’re out inspecting public areas. 

Data inputted by off-site staff members through the app is instantly visible to the rest of the Open Spaces team, as soon as it is uploaded to the system.

Simon Ireson (pictured), training and implementation specialist at Maximity, built the bespoke software for the council. 

Nick Burton, Open Spaces officer at Lichfield City Council, said: “Maximity has given us the flexible, easy-to-use yet thorough solution we asked for, and we are delighted with the results.”

 

Online meeting etiquette

There’s nothing like a pandemic to ‘help’ people use new technology, but whether you use it effectively or not is a different matter.

We’ve been helping companies implement Microsoft Teams for quite a while now, but in the last few weeks there has been a tsunami of people and companies who’ve suddenly realized they need to use Office 365 and Teams in particular. It’s been reported that Microsoft saw an increase of 37% in just one week as people were told to work from home.

There are plenty of free online training courses available to help people get started, here’s a link to the Microsoft Teams help and learning centre https://support.office.com/en-gb/teams

One of the great features in Teams is the ability to hold virtual meetings – a life saver right now! You can schedule meetings from Outlook, or from Teams, but if you want the meeting to show in your Posts timeline it needs to be set up in Teams and reference the channel.

Zoom is another great meeting app with some features that Teams doesn’t have like the ability to see more than 4 people on video in a meeting. But what I wanted to talk about isn’t the application, it’s the use of it.

When you have a virtual room full of people who are not used to interacting online, they may not be aware of how they’re viewed. By this I mean that when you are in a physical meeting and you yawn, people don’t notice so much as they can see much more than your head. When you’re using a mobile phone or webcam, it’s focused entirely on your face, so if you yawn everyone gets a wonderful view of the inside of your mouth. Lovely. And if you pull a face at what someone says, every single person in that virtual meeting can see very clearly what you think. It’s a good idea to think about the impact you want to have and how you want others to remember you. Plus with so many more people using home broadband that’s not always great, you may find your yawn or facial expression frozen in time for everyone else to enjoy. There have been several times I’ve wanted to take a picture and send it to the person but I’m not that brave!

To reiterate a point I made yesterday, if you need to type something when on a call, please mute your mic so it doesn’t pick up what you’re doing, but don’t forget to unmute when you need to speak! By the way, Zoom has a great feature for hosts that can tell if participants are doing other work and not paying attention to the call window. And when it come to camera position, particularly when you have several screens, put your online meeting and webcam on the same screen preferably one you look directly at, not one that’s high up, and please don’t put your online meeting on a high up screen when you’re webcam is lower. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.