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The right online accounting package can give you invaluable insight into your business, improve performance and allow you to run your business anywhere. Cloud accounting allows you to connect and collaborate online with others including your accountant, who can give you advice in real-time about your business.

The algorithms and artificial intelligence built into online accounting packages now handle a lot of the heavy lifting by automatically populating the software with sales and purchase data in real-time – freeing up business owners to focus on strategy.

With the online packages, there is much more of a focus on AI – and that’s really about automating mundane tasks such as data entry.

For example, apps such as Receipt Bank and Auto Entry extract data from your bills, receipts and invoices and enter it directly into your accounting package automatically – without you having to actually key in those figures.

Multiple apps can also be linked together through connections known as application programme interfaces (APIs). These are basically the ‘pipes’ through which organisations can securely share data across online platforms, which saves companies time re-keying information into multiple systems.

You might have a café with an electronic point-of-sale till system, and there would be a digital link between that till system and the shop’s accounting package. It means your sales data is being fed into your online accounting package daily, rather than you having to manually enter it.

Traditionally, accounting packages were desktop-based and could only be loaded onto and accessed from one PC or one laptop. Now, online cloud-based accounting packages are accessible from anywhere and from any device, whether that’s an iPad, iPhone or laptop.

The software is also constantly being updated; for example, Xero had 2,000 updates in just one year. Because they’re online, they can integrate with many other software applications, so you can effectively move the whole business – not just the accounting function – onto a digital platform. Moving onto a digital platform is cheaper than many think – and it makes your database scalable, and cost effective, as your business grows.

Real-time data helps business owners make more informed decisions. Traditionally, you’d meet your accountant nine months after the end of your financial year to look at your profit and loss, your balance sheet and all the reports on how you performed over the last year.

Now you’re looking at it in real time and can see, for example, what bills you can afford to pay today or who you need to chase for payment. Your advisor can access this information as well; they use it to provide advice on bigger investment decisions as you work to achieve business objectives.

It’s important to seek advice from your accountants or advisors, to make sure the accounting system you’re using has been set up and customised for your business specifically. Otherwise you’ve got a very generic package which may not be reporting on the information that you need or want.

Haines Watts offer a range of online accounting packages, including Xero, KashFlow and QuickBooks, meaning we can match you to exactly the right software for your business.



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