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Xerocon 2016: What We Learnt About the Future of Cloud Accounting
Posted on 18th February 2016 in The Forecast
Written by Amy Harris
Last week we had the pleasure of being part of Xerocon 2016. The event is the best of its kind, bringing together the brightest and most inspiring people and brands from the cloud accounting sector. We’re not sure if accounting really sums it up though. If you haven’t been before, Xerocon is a brilliant business conference too.
It was a particularly exciting few days for FUTRLI. We were a Gold sponsor so we had the opportunity to catch up with lots of our customers and sign up some new ones too and that’s always fun! We also hosted a panel session with our customers about how they’ve turned productivity gains into profit. To top off a great event, we were thrilled to be named finalists for Xero’s ‘Add on of the Year’ award and recognised for the contribution we’re making alongside some of the leading talent in this industry.
Lots of viewpoints and advice came out so we wanted to share some of them with you. Here are our top takeaways from Xerocon 2016:
Data visualisation shouldn’t help you run your business in reverse
One of the advantages of cloud accounting is that it has created a real-time data core from a businesses financial information, which can be mined for intelligence. The data visualisation buzz is picking up speed and we’re, obviously, huge fans. If you can’t see something, then how can you act? But, visualisation makes the most powerful impact to a business when you can see what’s happened in the past, how you’re performing today and what is coming up in the future.
Simply visualising historical information isn’t hitting the spot for busy business owners that focus on today and what’s coming up. You have to look ahead and have the tools to help you plan, execute and, where needed, pivot.
Our panel agreed that while the cloud was the starting point for a new type of accounting, it is only part of the journey. Traditionally, accountants and business owners have worked together in a historical context. FUTRLI bridges the gap between the business owner and advisor and brings the entire business to life, past, present and future.
Accountants were voted the most trusted advisor
One encouraging theme from Xerocon, research and our panel was that above and beyond legal advisors, business consultants and more, accountants were the most trusted by business owners today. Cloud accounting combined with forecasting and reporting tools like FUTRLI are moving the accountant from the back-office to the front-office.
Now data is available, it is about making it accessible to the people that matter. Those working within a business that really make an impact to those figures. Using data for insight and scenario planning and then making it come to life for those that need it, with dashboards, make it a real, operational tool to drive the business forwards. It’s about thriving, not surviving. A great example of how to get it right is Mojo Bar, a 20 year old Bar Group in the North of England. They moved to Xero and explain how the insight and clarity FUTRLI has brought across their organisation has helped them to triple their profits in just 12 months.
Offering additional advisory services is (finally!) a no brainer
The panel agreed there is still a huge misconception that advisory services are too time consuming and expensive for most clients. In fact, with the cloud, the opposite is in fact true. A worrying stat was that 72% of businesses have no business plan and 40% are not asking an expert for advice. It’s a bad habit and linked to the fact that, previously, there were no tools to support accountants in offering more advice, such as scenario planning and cashflow forecasting, cost effectively.
Cloud accounting software offers huge time savings and efficiency gains. FUTRLI drives more automation in workflow (predictive alerts) as well as in the production of reports and forecasts. Now, it takes minutes, not days, to produce detailed forecasts or KPI reports, so that adding value to a business is effortless and there is time available to step into this advisor role. Time once spent on compliance can be shifted. Using tools like Receipt Bank and Xero is a way for accountants to drastically boost their own productivity, allowing them to use that extra time for their clients’ benefit.
Communicate that a pound earned isn’t the same as a pound spent
Angel investor Dale Murray talked about the value of conversation. She addressed simple but powerful concepts such as the importance of addressing the language you’re using with clients. Too often you can assume that the client understands fundamental economics. What do the numbers mean? What are the different types of profit? Where is their profit coming from? It’s a simple conversation but it can make a considerable difference to your relationship with them and, most importantly, their business.
Cash is critical. Are your clients prepared for the expected and the unexpected? 91% of SMBs invoices are overdue. Using tools like Chaser, who won Xero’s Add On of the Year (congrats again!), can make a dramatic impact to cash. What does this look like for the client if they can improve it by 5, 10 or 15 days? A business is personal and it requires lots of hard work and decision making. Support, advice and time savings supporting the most critical area, Finance, will only make you a hero. So ask questions and play what-if!
Bridging the knowledge gap Murray spoke of and using cloud tools to plan scenarios and talk around the figures can transition SMEs from saying ‘Let’s see’ and ‘I hope’ and instead have confidence in their precise decision making.
Bring on a fantastic 2016!