For many small businesses, the bookkeeper is the glue between the office function and the personnel out on site, the sales team on the road, or the reason why a café owner can get some rest at night. The bookkeeper can keep abreast of the internal management tasks and day-to-day running of a business whilst the business owner engages in income producing activity. When you combine the perpetual development of software, the affordability of world-class accounting infrastructure and a new breed of multi skilled bookkeepers the bookkeeping space comes alive with a plethora of problem-solving possibilities.
With an emphasis on end-to-end solutions clients are expecting to be able to solve administration and bookkeeping tasks with the bookkeeping services they adopt. Depending on the size and demands of the entity, the modern bookkeeper can replace an administrative assistant who would traditionally manage accounts receivable, accounts payable and any finance-related communications. The modern bookkeeper can also replace the payroll officer, debt collection agency, and business systems implementation provider. The quality of a business’s bookkeeping is largely reflective of the efficiency of the business in general because of the way the bookkeeping function acts as a network within a business, connecting people, compliance, and financial management and ultimately setting the standard for business operations.
With a burgeoning “add-on” market place providing technological tools that literally replace archaic practices of carbon copies, paper management and paper storage, the seamless interaction between software systems and a competent bookkeeper can save businesses thousands of dollars in staffing costs, lost time and other critical resources. Where previously an electrician or fridge repairer, carpet cleaning operation or commercial cleaning business had no visibility on their workers across a city, in the modern age a bookkeeper can manage an “add-on” with Xero accounting software that synchs all day to provide clear information about where a staff member has been, which invoices have been sent or paid on the spot, who is running late, which jobs require additional parts and other critical information that would otherwise be reliant on internal management solutions. These sorts of tasks can now be managed by the bookkeeper just as well as anyone else as they have clear vision of the operations in product and service-based businesses that adopt the best software for their style of business.
A modern bookkeeper is someone who can do much more than data entry and file paperwork. Businesses across Australia are starting to realise they can outsource the bookkeeping function to a crack team of specialists who:
a) Really understand the challenges they face specific to their industry
b) Are masterful at streamlining the data collection process using state-of-the-art technology
c) Can manage a significant sized payroll
d) Have replacement staff ready in the event of illness, annual or maternity leave
e) Have access to a deep pool of resources when it comes to compliance and technical tax knowledge
It is not only small businesses that can benefit from an end-to-end bookkeeping solution. We are seeing increasing numbers of enquiries come through from much larger enterprises looking for a way to re-configure their finance departments. In some cases they need a payroll function solution or accounts payables or receivables, most want to examine how a full function solution would work for them and they are pleasantly surprised at the cost savings they can achieve by a simple restructure of how they manage their bookkeeping tasks.
At the end of the day, all business owners go into business to achieve a certain set of financial and/or lifestyle goals. More often than not the role that a bookkeeper can play is underestimated. A good bookkeeper will always perform a key role in any business's ability to grow and achieve the business objectives defined at the outset of any venture. The businesses that implement an excellent bookkeeper in the initial phases of development will undoubtedly always be in a position to make qualified decisions on the best way forward.
Isis Ashton is head of H&R Block bookkeeping services
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