Today, there are plenty of tools available to help you run your business—from cloud-accounting, payroll and time-recording to payment solutions like GoCardless and Stripe. Yet, until recently, while many businesses were willing to allocate budget to websites and digital marketing, in my experience they were often slower to recognise the benefits of adopting digital tools to assist with other business functions.
COVID-19 changed things. The pandemic really brought home the advantages of cloud-based technologies as business owners saw that the cloud could enable them and their employees to work remotely.
While accounting solutions like Xero and SortMyBooks had gained traction in recent years, the pandemic dramatically accelerated adoption of technologies like Zoom, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Slack.
Digital payment solutions
With more business taking place online, one of the most interesting trends to follow has been the development of digital payment solutions. Recently, I have been using GoCardless which provides tools that enable businesses to receive and manage recurring payments through direct debit. This is a great way to save time on debtor management as it can effectively eliminate late payments.
GoCardless is just one of a number of digital payment solutions gaining popularity. Stripe, founded by the Collision brothers, has revolutionised online payments while Revolut has reportedly signed up 1 million users in Ireland.
Solutions that help with business administration
As an experienced bookkeeping service provider, I always recommend that clients use cloud-based accounting. It is not just that this makes issuing sales invoices, record-keeping and running the business easier, it’s the 24/7 access from anywhere that is really valuable. When you understand how to interpret and use the financial information that your cloud-accounting system provides, you can set realistic targets and monitor progress towards achieving them in realtime. This can be a game-changer when it comes to streamlining processes, eliminating waste and improving profitability.
Digital solutions can also enhance personal effectiveness. I use the MyHours time tracking solution to identify my most valuable work and help me eliminate time-wasting activities.
 Ciara O’Brien, “Revolut says it has signed up a million users in Ireland,” Irish Times 13 May 2020.
What to consider when selecting digital solutions
When selecting digital solutions for accounting, credit control, payroll or digital payments, I always suggest checking what your accountant recommends. Key questions to consider include:
- What is your budget
- What do you want the system to do for you?
- Who will use the system?
- What knowledge do they have of accounting and bookkeeping?
- What training will they require?
- Is the system user-friendly?
- Where will your data be stored?
- Will your data be safe and secure?
- How will your data be backed up?
- Does the system comply with relevant industry standards and regulatory requirements?
- Is the system capable of growing with your business?
- Can your accountant’s system support the accounts solution?
- Can the system take feeds of relevant data from your bank?
- Will the solution integrate with your HR, CRM and payroll systems?
- What is the pricing structure?
- What support is available?
- Does the system have a mobile app?
- Does the system provide you with reports your business needs?
What if I don’t have the necessary skills/capacity to use the system effectively?
Often, due to lack of time or because they have grown to a point where they can no longer keep up to date with administration, businesses either need to hire additional staff or outsource some administrative functions to a specialist service provider. Outsourcing is usually a smart, cost-effective option for a small business but it is very important to choose your service provider carefully. As with any decision, you need to examine the business casebefore making your decision. You also need to ensure that the potential payroll or bookkeeping service provider is properly qualified and invests in the ongoing training necessary to keep up to date with changing regulatory requirements so that they can operate your processes correctly.
Whether you are a sole trader, an entrepreneurial start-up or an SME, GroForth can help you identify and select tools to make your bookkeeping and payroll more efficient. We will help you implement reliable systems and procedures so that you can be confident you always have accurate, up-to-date information available. Check out our bookkeeping and payroll service web pages for details.