There are many types of cloud accounting and bookkeeping software out there, all with their pro’s and con’s, and best case uses. But, they all have one thing in common, lots features to make the life of a business owner (or their trusted bookkeeper) easier. Let’s take a look at the typical features you should be using.
Apps! Lots of apps
Because the very nature of cloud bookkeeping software means you can access you data from anywhere with an internet connection it’s only logical that there is an app to make it easier to access your bookkeeping from a device other than a standard computer desktop browser. These apps are optimised to make navigating the software simpler within a phone or tablet. This does come with some caveats, meaning some areas of the software just can’t be accessed from the app, usually because the device simply has too small of a screen to be able to cope with the information that would need displaying. For the most part the day to day bookkeeping can be completed entirely within the app. Great news for the busy entrepreneur.
Some of the major players in the cloud bookkeeping software world have diversified their app offering to include apps for specific areas for their software, such as payroll or expenses. As an example, there is no way the creators of Xero could fit the whole Xero Projects area into the main app, so rather than not offer it in an app they created a dedicated app for Xero Projects. Meaning you can use the full projects area from your mobile phone. There are actually extra features in the app compared to the desktop version, by utilising the built in GPS in you mobile you can have the app add time spent at a project automatically based on the fact you were at that location! Genius.
Bank feeds – an ever-expanding availability
When bank feeds were first introduced it was a game changer for bookkeepers. It meant no longer waiting a week or two after month end to receive the paper bank statement through the post to complete the reconciliation. Without getting too technical about it the new EU open banking regulations brought into effect from September 2019 mean that the banks had to standardise the API to allow easier yet more secure connections with external software. For business owners this meant it became much easier to connect your bank account to your bookkeeping software, now the bank statement syncs daily to your software for up to date reconciliation in almost real time.
Tiny robots inside the computer to do the data entry
Well almost. Depending on which software you have chosen will determine if you have inbuilt data entry features or if you need an addon, either way you can snap a picture of your expense receipt and it magically appears in your accounts as a fully coded transaction with the photo you took attached for prosperity. So, go ahead, bin that receipt. No more chasing round the foot well of the car or the bottom of your coat pocket for missing receipts. A change of habit to take a picture makes the bookkeeping much quicker, and it’s no more difficult than taking a selfie.
Integration of other business software used
What about the other software that is integral to the day to running of your business? Appointment booking software that automatically invoices your customer when the job is complete. A till system linked to you stock management to automatically keep track of which products you’ve bought and sold. Onsite project management recording every single part used on a job for accurate invoicing. Online website or marketplace sales. All these different types of software, and more, can be integrated (fancy word for synced) with your bookkeeping software. The benefits of this are numerous. A single point of data entry reduces the risk of human error as well as the risk of intentional data manipulation, not to mention the time saved by only typing in the information once. Also, by having the different software’s integrated you can be sure that no matter which software you are looking at you are reviewing the correct information.
Now if we were to detail all the different ways cloud bookkeeping software could make your business life easier, we’d still be here in a few more thousand words. So, some of the features you should consider are:
Payment services – popping a button on your invoice so that your customer clicks the button and pays your invoice by card. This reduces the risk of them paying the wrong amount, or paying the wrong person, and has been proven to speed up how quickly they pay your invoice. in turn, this then automatically marks your invoice as paid in the bookkeeping software. It’s a double whammy!
Repeating templates and rules – If you do the same thing over and over set up a template or rule so the software can do it for you!
Invoice reminders – remember those robots… they can automatically send emailed reminders to your customers about overdue invoices that they’ve forgotten to pay.
Direct debits – get your customer to set up a direct debit mandate with you, so every time you invoice them the payment is automatically collected on the due date… neither you nor the customer needs to do anything after the initial set up!
Invoice fetching – more robots! Give the software your login credentials for your supplier accounts. The robots login each day, check for new invoices and download them directly into your bookkeeping as a coded transaction with a PDF of the invoice attached.
Are you getting the most out of your software? If you’re not using lots of these features the answer is no. Spend some time learning how these features work and setting them up now, to save time over and over again in the future. You’re already paying for most of these features, you should be using them.