Getting ahead in the cloud
IN ASSOCIATION WITH:
02 | MAKING TAX DIGITAL 03 | PROPERTY 04 | RETAIL AND WHOLESALE 06 | INTEGRATIONS WITH APPS 08 | CONSTRUCTION 09 | PROFESSIONAL SERVICES 10 | TECHNOLOGY
GETTING AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
PAUL WINDMILL Director Myers Clark
Flexibility, agility and preparation
New and dynamic businesses no longer conform to stereotypes. They forge their own paths and face adversity with innovation
oday’s businesses are experiencing change beyond just consumer behaviour; big and small companies are facing massive economic and legal uncertainty. The ambiguity of the Brexit negotiations, the economy, trade agreements and the movement of people have forced business to reassess how they function, prioritise and thrive. Flexibility, agility and preparation are fundamental to being successful in an ever-changing business environment. Companies are increasingly relocating to the digital sphere, where the value of integration, streamlined operations and flatter management structures are enabling them to reach new heights. API keys and an ability to access data are facilitating a new wave of companies making informed business decisions and writing strategies with the analytics on their homepage dashboard. The government’s initiative to modernise the tax system is certainly a move in the right direction and a reflection that Westminster is listening to businesses. Whilst the timetable for Making Tax Digital might be delayed, the preparations many businesses have made were not in vain. As a cloud expert, Myers Clark utilises software to permit its clients and its own practice to stay ahead of the game and reap the benefits.
MTD preparation HMRC announces that Making Tax Digital (MTD) will be delayed until 2020
THE DEFERRAL brings a welcome relief to businesses, which will now have more time to prepare for the transition to digital and identify the benefits at their own pace. The pace of change had been the main source of concern since the MTD proposals were announced. The lack of communication with businesses and the limited software testing created worry ahead of the introduction. Those already working in the cloud or outsourcing to an accountant would have had a notable advantage to those working with paper accounts.
New Timetable From April 2019, businesses with a turnover above the VAT threshold of £85,000 will have to keep digital records for VAT purposes only. Businesses will not be required to make quarterly digital submissions for other taxes until 2020. Larger businesses might only be required to use MTD to report VAT because of the complexity of the reporting for their tax compliance matters. What Now? By pushing back the introduction of Making Tax Digital, the software companies will have more time for testing and pilot schemes. The initial piloting of the VAT processes will begin by the end of 2017 and the wider, live pilot will begin in spring 2018.
Going digital image
Changes will bring greater synchronisation of data, streamlined processes and efficient management Buying into digital Despite the fact that 88% of property management companies already use a cloud service, such as LinkedIn or Gmail, there is still some nervousness about moving their finances to the cloud. However, companies needn’t worry: the changes will bring greater synchronisation of data, streamlined processes and efficient management of properties and businesses. For instance, the cloud facilitates lower software maintenance costs as you’ll only pay for the features you need when you need them and the software updates automatically. Unlike traditional accounting software, there is no capital expenditure; small monthly payments will reduce overheads and allow your business to maintain flexibility as it scales. Additionally, viewing and updating your financial data on-the-go helps facilitate a dynamic business, boosting the accuracy of data and productivity by encouraging administrative tasks to be completed while on the move.
managing tenancy and security deposits, can be completed without any intervention by the client. Transactions relating to the tenants and the property itself can be automatically categorised and matched to bank transactions. This information can be pulled into reports and sent to the landlords for business performance reviews. On the accounting side, landlords’ information is managed in a similar way with a dashboard of analytics showing real-time expenses, outgoings and profit. The ability to drill down into client and property profiles is possible with tenants categorised as jobs, property owners as customers and properties as classes. Utilising apps allows the automation of manual processes and reducing the likelihood of input errors.
Landlords Many landlords will already outsource their accounting function to an accountant. However, cloud software will provide greater insight into how their properties are performing. Properties can be managed within apps that directly feed information from multiple properties even if managed by more than one letting agent. Integrating apps with software will give landlords greater control of properties, in areas like for example expenses and tenant management. It is possible for rules to be created, that ensure financial information is correctly organised. This ensures invoices and payments received are apportioned to their correct category rather than to a central location. This information can also be tracked and verified with direct bank feeds that pulls transaction data into the business accounts. Moving to the cloud shouldn’t be seen as an inconvenience but as an opportunity to successfully update your procedures to integrate frequent monitoring of income, expenses and profit into your daily business activities.
Property management Most property management companies will have in-house bookkeepers and the range of apps available will enable clients to take better control of their properties and update their accounts in real-time. The lettings and accounting side of the business are separated. Lettings activities, such as calculating rent,
GETTING AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
Safe as houses
Koren O’Neill, practice accounts manager at Rumball Sedgwick, explains moving to the cloud has given the company stronger foundations What impact is the current economic climate having upon your business? Because of the economic situation, we’re not selling as many houses. But instead of moving, people are having a lot more extensions, so it gives us more survey work. How did you come to make the move to the cloud and how smooth was the transition? We moved from Sage to QuickBooks, which is cloud-based. It did put me on the back foot at first. But what was very handy was Myers Clark took all of the information off of the closing balance, entered it into QuickBooks and set up the suppliers and customers. So that made the transition much easier. What benefits has this had for the business as a whole?
It’s helped a lot. The accountants don’t have to ring up asking questions because they can access it themselves and have a look. It’s made the bookkeeping run far smoother. How does the Making Tax Digital policy stand to impact your business? It doesn’t actually stand to impact us at all. I supply all of the information obviously but Myers Clark deal with all our taxes. And because there’s people handling more of that side of things, it’s made me more able to focus on the day-to-day. 4
Digital education UK spending online has increased by 1.4% in the last year. Online transactions account for a third of all card payments and equated to roughly £15.4bn in a single month alone Digital education The retail sector is wide-ranging and encompasses a vast array of businesses, structures and styles. The growth of the cloud is portrayed as inexorable but online retailing is still very young, accounting for almost 16% of total sales last year. Digital is a bigger focus for business than ever, it is anticipated in 2017 that larger retail businesses will spend 34% of their budget on software. However, cloud accounting does not require this level of investment. While adopting the cloud will be a sharp learning curve for some businesses, going digital facilitates a level of efficiency and data access unprecedented for many SMEs. What do consumers want? Consumers want quality, transparency and a more unique in-store experience. Where once this might have seemed too great a cost for small, boutique business, the ubiquity of technology is bringing costs down and drawing retail and tech closer together. Similarly, faster access to real-time data is enabling retailers to collect big data and action their findings with personalised interactions and purchasing experiences. This shift in customer expectations is demonstrated in the new customer-value equation.
Customer Value = Cost + Choice + Convenience + Control + Experience Cost – Connected consumers have unprecedented access to price comparison information, which means competition is higher and added value needs to be apparent from the first engagement. Choice – The ability to tailor features to individual needs, tastes and occasions is enabling the consumer to be more demanding with their expectations. Convenience – Consumers know what they want and when and where they want it. Instant gratification is something that consumers are coming to expect more and more. Control – Consumers want to influence, control and shape the entire purchasing journey. Experience – Consumers want an aggregation of all interaction points. The journey needs to be inclusive of all touchpoints and demonstrate consistency across in-store, online and delivery experiences.
How will the cloud help? Leveraging the cloud’s speed, scalability and flexibility facilitates a more efficient business model. Streamlining operations will alleviate you of time-intensive tasks and enable you to focus on customer-orientated activities. More analytics and the ability to drill down into projects, departments and even staff members will provide greater control over teams and performance. Access to this granular information on a real-time basis will help you make informed, data-driven business decisions and create achievable and realistic long-term strategies. Cloud software, although a small investment, is the new way to run a business. The integration with apps will alter business processes: manual tasks can be automated, administrative tasks can be completed on the go and compliance tasks are reduced with in-built software capabilities. Utilising third-party apps can assist in remodelling some functions, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability. This is most pertinent to retailers who require increased capacity at seasonal peaks and cutting back during quieter periods. How can your business achieve this? Cloud facilitates the centralisation of data and enables businesses of all sizes to deliver a seamless experience to every customer. Connecting your e-commerce, point of sale, order management, fulfilment and inventory management tools to your cloud accounting software will enable all your business data to be available from a single source. Investment in the cloud will increase your efficiency and preparation for future business developments.
PHOTO: JOOLZE DYMOND & CYCLING UK
For Kate Jenkins, general manager of Watford & Dacorum Cycle Hubs & Cafe, converting to the cloud has been a dream What motivated you to move your business to the cloud?
We were awarded a Government Growth Fund to review our processes and procedures. We wanted local accounting support so chose Myers Clark whose advice was to take advantage of a cost-effective cloud-based system. What was it like making the transition to a cloud-based system? We could have made the transition easier: we just didn’t have the required time, resources and understanding. We’re incredibly lucky now to have a volunteer with a business analysis and accounting background: now Myers Clark can pick up the baton and help us more proactively. What benefits do you think this will have for the business as a whole? It will be significant. It will provide visibility of accounts, invoices, customer data and documents across all three of our locations and improve customer service, increase our margins and improve our cash-flow. What additional support have you received from Myers Clark? Myers Clark has helped us with general accounting including year-end reporting, business planning review, payroll and VAT. But perhaps the most significant is the intangible support, the knowledge that there’s a human, caring hand ready to help us whenever we need it. 5
GETTING AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
Accounting in the cloud Moving your business to the cloud will improve planning and forecasting with greater data visibility
YOUR BUSINESS IN YOUR HAND
of small to medium-sized businesses are using apps to manage their business
No back-ups required
Work in real time
forecast they will adopt apps over the next year
Send and receive invoices
Shared access with accountant
of businesses who have moved to the cloud have experienced tangible benefits
Manage business expenses
Reports and drill downs
Direct bank feeds
would move to the cloud if supported by an established business with a quality checked and appropriate solution for their company
3,000+ 82% apps to integrate with
of businesses saved money moving to the cloud
of businesses are using cloud accounting
WIDER BENEFITS INCLUDE
HOW WILL CLOUD ACCOUNTING IMPROVE EVERYDAY BUSINESS TASKS?
Data direct from bank
CONSTRUCTION RETAIL PROPERTY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Make informed decisions
Myers Clark will be running sectorspecific seminars about Moving to the Cloud throughout October. These seminars will provide guidance about selecting the right software and the best app for your business.
SIGN UP HERE or go to myersclark.co.uk/our-thinking/events
GETTING AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
Adapting to change and monitoring flexibility is vital to implement best practice and stay ahead of the curve Embracing change It is estimated that 41% of businesses in the construction industry manage their accounts with pen and paper. This is a long way from streamlined operations, automated invoice processing and centralised information in a dashboard. The complexity of compliance procedures, sourcing projects and managing human resources are additional pressures for construction businesses and often exacerbated by not being office-based. Multiple projects, multiple sites Take back financial control and streamline operations by automating manual tasks and harnessing the potential of technology. Reviewing your financial position on a regular basis and working in real-time will help facilitate accurate cashflow and 8
profit forecasting. Having greater knowledge of your financial position will allow you to make more informed business decisions and take advantage of opportunities for growth. Technology can also help you manage invoices from suppliers and send your own quotes and invoices from your phone. Capturing receipts and expenses will enable you to have an up-to-date view of project costings to convert into a quote for clients. With adjustable VAT rates saved to invoice items, you can be certain you have correctly charged your clients for the work and supplies purchased.
Record-keeping and tracking expenditure As an industry, construction has an industry culture of late payments. Tracking invoices and setting up alerts can ensure your business isn’t forced
to wait the average 82-day period before payment is made. Working in real-time and in the cloud permits invoices and quotes to be calculated and sent on-site. Reducing the delay in completing financial tasks means you can be confident your quotes are accurate. Additionally, managing debtors and payments is improved with alerts for due invoices and the ability to review the business’ open, overdue and recently paid invoices on the home dashboard.
Sub-contractors Managing expenditure, subcontractors and expenses in realtime can also prevent later queries, divergence from set budgets or unexpected project costings. The software’s artificial intelligence capabilities can learn rules to assign transactions to projects and workers, as well as categorise receipts captured on your phone. Any additional expenditure not included in a budget can be managed from either a central location or organised into a project class. This data can be reviewed from your dashboard or customisable reports that can drill down into projects and individuals. Compliance Construction businesses face a number of complex and timeconsuming compliance processes. Utilising the in-built CIS module enables compliance to be achieved without stress and alongside all other financial transactions. Additionally, by sharing access with your accountant you can be certain your taxes, deductions and compliance have been verified by a professional, saving you time and costly errors. These capabilities enable cloud accounting to streamline operations, boost efficiency, facilitate communication and increase your company’s productivity.
Business redesigned Moving to the cloud helped Uncle John, the design and marketing agency, streamline its processes and ensure it can access its data anywhere and anytime, explains business manager Abigail Binding What encouraged you to make the move to the cloud? Our accountants Myers Clark suggested we move to the cloud for our accounting needs, as we previously used Sage. They were using Quickbooks, found it simple to use and felt it would benefit us both if we used the same. They got us set up and answered any questions we had during the switchover. What changes have you seen since moving to the cloud and how has it affected your business? Most of the software we need to run our design and marketing business is now in the cloud, whether that’s for designing, managing project workflow, client invoicing or accounting. Access to our accounts is so much easier now because we can access them from anywhere, home, office or out on the road. And there is no reason for any delay in obtaining information: we have everything at our fingertips 24/7. What positive outcomes of working in the cloud have you found? The cloud keeps everything in a central place so you know its always up to date and easily accessible. And automatic updates are a real bonus: time isn’t wasted waiting for an update to download to your computer or tablet, which means you can concentrate on your work.
What kinds of issues has moving to the cloud helped resolve? It has made our relationship with our accountants much simpler. Our business and our accountants can work in the cloud in sync and that means we don’t have to generate files to send to them or work from paper copies like we previously did. If we have a query, we can phone them and we can both look at the same thing at the same time. What kinds of new processes have you implemented and how easy has integrating other apps into this new workflow been? Our project management software, Briefcase, is used throughout the business every day and is vital in managing project workflow. We changed to this software after we began using Quickbooks, as it gave us the ability to link the two cloud apps. We produce invoices in Briefcase, which can then be exported directly into Quickbooks, saving us from having to duplicate the invoices. What are the benefits of the relationship you have with Myers Clark? The relationship we have with Myers Clark is vital to us as a small business. We manage our cashflow very carefully: they have helped us put things in place to enable us to easily view and manage it on a daily basis and given us advice to streamline our business. They are very handson when we need them to be but they are also very flexible and adjust to whether we need more or less accounting support. 9
GETTING AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
Winning with tech Technology is driving change with businesses introducing new software, processes and roles to keep pace with the competition SOFTWARE is no longer for tech companies: technology is ubiquitous and a new wave of entrepreneurs is approaching with software ready to help people come together, work dynamically and stay at the top of their game. With consumers expecting more from products and services than ever, businesses must adapt to a changing market or risk falling behind. Cloud software is now the norm and itâ€™s forcing slow-to-change businesses to take action. Cloud is driving the future of accountancy and how businesses conduct their financial administration
tasks. Its value is found in its scalability, responsiveness and automation of processes, which in turn enable an improved experience for both the business and consumers.
The immediate, tangible advantages of moving to the cloud are best measured against the intangible benefits they facilitate. One of the most obvious advantages of cloud accounting is the ability to access it anytime and anywhere. Flexible access to your data facilitates informed business
decisions, increased agility and responsiveness. The number of possible third-party integrations is in the thousands; with a dashboard to summarise your ecosystem of apps, you need not feel daunted by all the array of data and analytics available. The consumer wants everything faster and cloud accounting is no different. For most businesses working in real-time is an expectation rather than a preference. Cloud accounting permits this with its immediate access to all financial data, which can be drilled down into, organised and collated into reports. This also extends to realtime updates, which enable you to track information, purchases and integrations as they happen. Gone are the days of upfront costs and capital expenditure: with cloud accounting, you pay as you go for the features you need. Monthly payments fit more easily into your cashflow forecasts and scale up as your business grows. In fact, scalability is a benefit itself. Working with cloud systems often permits you to select the feature you need, reducing expenditure on features you do not benefit from. The ability to take photos of receipts, directly upload and code them within the software enables greater accuracy with regards to the data itself and means youâ€™re always working with the most recent figures. Direct bank feeds ensure that all transactions are correctly recorded, improving efficiency of process and reducing the possibility of manual errors. With this increased technological capability, it is important not to lose the human element of your business. The intangible benefits of cloud accounting can be found in the opportunity to refocus the time saved and give greater attention to improving collaboration between the companyâ€™s departments, customer service and developing agility.
DO YOU DO YOUR OWN ACCOUNTS? NO
Do you enjoy it?
Are you happy with your provider?
Is there room for improvement? NO
Are you confident you are getting it right?
Want to pass it to someone else?
Keep up the good work!
Are you looking for expert help?
You could save time and money, so are you sure? YES YES
Sounds like youâ€™re happy with your current accountant.
Sounds like you could benefit from pairing with MyConfidant and get all the help without losing control.
Myers Clark was established in 1912 and has grown to be one of the largest independent firms of Chartered Accountants in Watford. MyConfidant is Myers Clark’s cloud accounting and financial support solution for businesses. MyConfidant was built in the knowledge that cloud accounting software is driving the future of accountancy, but its value is found in the access to expertise and regular, personal contact with people who understand business. Although today’s society demands automation, it cannot replace human contact.
What does MyConfidant mean? confidant (n) – a trusted friend with whom one shares private matters and problems. The name “MyConfidant” signals the relationship we aim to build with you as your business partner; assuming the role of your trusted advisor.
We recognise that no two businesses are the same; your business position, your experience and financial requirements will be individual to you. Therefore we have tailored our packages to reflect different businesses’ needs and the frequency of input required to achieve financial success. With this in mind, you will have the choice of three levels of service depending on the most appropriate level of support and input for your business. The entry level will enable you to outsource your finance function to our dedicated team, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your financial affairs are under control. The higher levels will give you the opportunity to access greater support and focussed advice from our dedicated and experienced team.
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“I cannot deny that the meeting was full of surprises not least shattering my image of an accountant and would even look forward to our next meeting” Visit myconfidant.co.uk for more information. 01923 224411 Egale 1, 80 St Albans Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 1DL.