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Cloud technology and the benefits of outsourcing

Mark Pullen, CEO at cloud-based finance software provider Xledger, explains the extent to which outsourcing can make businesses more agile, give them a competitive edge and boost resilience for a lockdown recovery

Lockdown restrictions plus virus uncertainty have prompted a change of mindset across businesses of all industries, not least in accounting.

Many businesses have had to take stock and as a result have begun to recognise that outsourcing core services can make them more agile and give them the competitive edge they need to compete in today’s market.

Recent research has found that almost a third of companies are looking to outsource at least one business area, as a result of Covid. It challenges the long-held tradition that when a business reaches a certain size, it insources as many functions as possible to allow for greater control when growing the business, only outsourcing heavy time-intensive tasks.

Accounting sector pain points

Client and corporate expectations are continuing to evolve and grow and with them, a new set of demands are placed on accounting departments and firms.

As a result, the need for value-added services on top of payroll and bookkeeping needs to be addressed, if firms are to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd. That provides a new set of challenges as the role of the accounting professional evolves, meaning that attracting and retaining the right talent is going to be a key business challenge in the years to come.

As client demands change, so do workloads. Accountants need to contend with ever-shifting goalposts which can be detrimental for keeping projects on track and hitting deadlines. Using multiple tools to manage projects such as chat tools, email and spreadsheets can lack opportunities to effectively communicate. These disparate tools can also foster misunderstandings and inaccuracies which can lead to greater challenges in the accounting sector.

What role can technology play?

Inefficient processes are prone to causing delays and errors which can have a huge impact on the bottom line when viewed at scale. They can also negatively impact the client experience, causing frustration with missed deadlines and mounting uncompleted tasks.

Technology is automating many of the daily, monotonous accounting functions such as bank reconciliation and invoice entry meaning that the nature of the work that an accountant provides will change. This presents a huge opportunity as accounting professionals could be involved in higher-level work. It can also provide a resource that gives real time insight, allowing for better strategic decision making.

Optimising the accounting function

Outsourcing high-value services within the accounting function can improve workflow by implementing defined and transparent process which streamlines operations. For a finance department, this can speed up areas that require internal controls such as expense reporting and cash release, but it can also speed up the full lifecycle of a project; from time tracking and resource to accounting and billing.

There is also a cost efficiency benefit when outsourcing, as management bandwidth is effectively increased by eliminating the need to be involved in many day-to-day processes. Instead this time can be focused on other business priorities and planning for future growth.

Outsourcing accounting functions to use bespoke and standardised technologies means data-led processes can be measured, optimised and benchmarked against in-house requirements. These processes can also be undertaken remotely, boosting the resilience of your business in a post-lockdown world.

 

Case study: Rob Howard, CEO, Accurise

As an accountancy practice, we realised that where the real value is in the market is the more complex customers that want something more than just having their statutory obligations met, such as VAT returns. We enable clients to scale up and maintain visibility and control while outsourcing their finance department by benefiting from Xledger, a premium accounting software package that they otherwise would not be able to afford.

In the UK, clients normally insource processes when they reach a certain size in order to maintain visibility and control. This opened my eyes to the power of collaborative cloud technology. If you allow your end customers to maintain visibility and control over their finances, there really is no value with insourcing.

Xledger’s integrated document management system gives customers enhanced visibility and control with access to in-system live-reports through budget holder dashboards, and budget holders can likewise gain confidence and understanding over their financials by drilling-down to the individual transactions.

Xledger is a one-stop solution covering expenses, approvals, payments and reporting, and all our customers can log in to one place. We can offer them enhanced visibility and control, onboard them quickly, and it is a larger, more scalable solution.

In terms of our day-to-day operations, not a single thing has been affected by Covid-19 and we have carried on working seamlessly. That is now a great discussion point when we are talking about our services with potential new clients, as we offer an uninterrupted service, even during the worst pandemic in a generation.

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