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How Technology can help your business

I changed my password to "incorrect" so whenever I forget what it is the computer will say "your password is incorrect" - Minion Quotes

We are going to look at some of the technologies we use in our business. These have helped us a lot in the last 7 months. It has moved us towards our goal of being a paperless office. Some of these technologies can help your business too.

Last week we spoke about the last 6 months in our business. How our staff excelled, how cashflow was vital and the difficult challenges we faced. In case you missed it Read here

Like business technology is a journey. We are always trying to learn more to improve the service we give to clients. To make doing business with us as easy as possible and ensure a happy client experience. We also have to help ourselves. We have to invest time and money in the technology we use, and get buy-in from the team. They have to be willing to try something different and have an open mind to accept new ways of doing things.

Two Screens

Two screens or three screens are very common in accountancy businesses. We use two and that works very well for us. One is your laptop and the other is a monitor, plugged into your laptop. This costs less than €200. For me, this works great when I am reviewing jobs. You can have two pdf documents on one screen, side by side, such as a set of accounts and a corporation tax return. On the other screen you can have the computations. This could be the current year and prior year computations or accounts analysis. There is no need for someone to give me a file nor is there a need to print anything. Yes, we print but not paper. We print the accounts or tax returns in pdf and save onto the client folder.

This saves time, gives you mobility and cuts down on cost. It has enabled us to get rid of hard copy accounts and tax files. Storing paper and shredding paper costs time and money. You need the space to store it and you need to get rid of it after 6 years. You can't put old files out with the recycling bin! You shred this and we use a specialist provider. The team can be more focused on doing the job and don’t waste time printing, going to the printer to collect unnecessary paper.

Cloud Server - Office 365

We have been using a cloud server for many years now. Earlier this year we moved to Office 365. This has had many benefits for us, and clients and we have a lot more to learn about its functionality. Among these benefits are;

  • Enhanced security features to protect client information from hackers
  • Most up to date versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Access to "Teams" which is quick and useful for contact with clients and the team here
  • Access to each other calendars to see the availability of team members for meetings etc
  • work from anywhere so no need to work in the office
  • easy to use
  • All information backed up to Microsoft servers
  • No large capital outlay on a physical server but a monthly payment
  • Outsource our IT department

Adobe Acrobat

We have been using this over the last 6 months or so. It was something very new but Ger was experimenting in the background. We did some training with the team and now we are getting more used to it and seeing the benefits. It is excellent for our drive to a paperless office and helps clients to view and sign documents. There is an adobe app on your phone that works well when a client gives you physical documents. Accounts and tax returns can now go to clients for e-signature. When they e-sign the client retains a copy of the signed documents. There is also an audit trail that shows the devices used to send and sign the documents. Even our older clients are getting used to e-signatures at this stage. We only have one client that doesn't have an e-mail address and she's not for changing. Benefits with this we have seen are

  • No need to print documents to view or sign them
  • Our clients save time and don't have to print, sign, post, or drop back to the office
  • Once our clients e-sign, they and we get a signed copy with an audit trail
  • Can edit pdfs, make comments and send for comments
  • Can print, sign, e-mail, and edit within Adobe
  • Saves time and money on printing and postage
  • Extract pages you need from a large document and save or send to a client
  • Converts pdf docs to word and excel
  • Cloud space available to store documents
  • Take pics of documents on phone and save to cloud server - useful for when a client gives you documents

Zoom

Oh no, we are back there again! Zoom pints and quizzes for the next six weeks. More tucking your work shirt into your tracksuit bottoms! Despite people being all zoomed out this is an excellent piece of technology for people to stay in touch. We have been in the office for 3 weeks since mid-March. Team and individual meetings have switched to Zoom as have client meetings. We weren't complete zoom novices before Covid. We had been using it a bit, especially with clients who are living abroad where we look after accounts and taxes. Never has this been so important and Zoom will go down as one of the most important technologies of the pandemic.

For us, it has been vital for the day to day running of the business, but also for training too. Much of our training on Receipt Bank, Surf, GDPR, and Adobe has been on Zoom. It helps maintain that personal touch with the team and clients and is a must for winning new business. It ensures you stay in close contact with clients. This is very important for new clients as you are building a relationship.

You can share your screen so can go through numbers and analysis with clients. While the numbers are important what's more important is how the client is doing. After working together for years, you know about the client’s family and pastimes. It's a good way to catch up and maintain a close relationship.

Some downsides

Covid has brought about the need to change and we will be always changing. It has been a revolution of disruption. We have to be aware of the downsides and look to improve in those areas. We also can't use technology for the sake of using it. It has to be beneficial for us and clients and the key for us is to be good at the technology we use and know it well. We can have too much and be a master of none. We have to ensure the team here and clients are not cut-off and have to look after elderly clients too. With IT there are constant changes and there are many frustrations too. We have to use Zoom outside the cloud and “Teams” doesn't work well inside the cloud for meetings. It doesn't all flow as it should sometimes. Training and more training and being curious is important. Practice and using the software grows confidence. Also, be mindful of the cost. It may now always be the next shiny thing but could be more training on existing technology.

Summary

The above is a flavour of some of the technologies that we use. We use Go Proposal for pricing and Receipt Bank and Xero & Surf for cloud accounting. We will talk about these more in future blogs. We are by no means experts in this area and the purpose of this is to give you an idea of some of the things that have helped us. The reason is to help our clients and help ourselves too. Plus, it's very interesting to learn new things and get outside your comfort zone.

Need help with your business? Call Deirdre on 051396703 and she will point you in the right direction. Or Click here to contact us



 

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