For the last two years, finance teams have faced challenges on both fronts: helping clients navigate, survive and thrive, while attending to their own business operations. When looking at accounting firms and bookkeeping businesses of all sizes that have come through this the strongest and continued to drive efficiency, there is one common denominator: they have embraced artificial intelligence and automation.
Why should accountants and bookkeepers care about AI and automation?
Technology helps eliminate the need to spend time on tedious, non-income producing tasks such as manual data entry and review, document collection, and even reporting. And it’s absolutely key to helping scale your business in a sustainable way.
If the intense nature of the last 18 months has taught us anything, it’s that embracing AI and automation are the best ways for bookkeepers to free up billable hours and increase revenue potential. This is true for Michele Grisdale of Rainforest Bookkeeping, who tripled her client base in just 12 months by implementing smart automation tools in her business.
“I was working in desktop bookkeeping, using 5 different accounting platforms, was buried in paper and saw no way out,” Michele said.
“When introduced to automation, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and I started planning my way out. Within 6 months I had moved all of my one-day a week clients to cloud apps and was ready to take on more.”
"I know how to do my job."
A common reason we hear from bookkeepers as to why they have not looked at AI audit or set-up automated bookkeeping workflows is the simple fact: you know how to do it. You’re so great at your job that you know the process like the back of your hand. And you’re a perfectionist, so there hasn’t been a need to document or implement an official workflow.
However - if your business goals include being more efficient, having a better work/life balance, scaling your business or even selling it, it’s time to think about having a safety net across your data and getting those processes and checklists out of your head. When you can begin to automate your data review and your bookkeeping processes, you remove a mental weight. You can start to onboard clients and new staff with ease, rather than with a sinking feeling it’s not being looked after the way you would. And you create an effective and more scalable business.
Sumi Suvalingam of First Class Accounts Doncaster says it wasn’t until she got serious about implementing AI audit and automation that she felt 100% confident in growing her client base and her business.
“Since I have started using XBert, I have started onboarding more clients, because I knew I had the mental capacity to cope with the workload. It was no longer overwhelming, because everything is systematic and organised in the one system. And it’s so easy to see where your staff are up to at any given time,” Sumi said.
“If you’re thinking of growing your business and taking it to the next level - and not be afraid to onboard more clients, or even take on more staff - you have the perfect tool to manage your business and manage your staff.”
Take the complexity out of compliance
With the huge shift toward cloud accounting, online services and shopping - the volume of transactions on each client file grows. As the volume of online transactional data increases, so does the potential for fraud, manual accounting error and dishonest payments. This has made compliance a lot more complex – but AI can review the data at speed, in almost real time. Detecting anomalies like duplicate invoices or bills, unusual spending, billing or transactions, GST anomalies, coding errors, ABN checks (even across the attachments on your bills and invoices) – these all save your reputation as a bookkeeper, and both you and your clients’ time and money. Not to mention avoiding the headache of finding these at a late stage - or when it’s too late.
Sumi finds having a neat and easy-to-find audit trail on every task is another level of security and peace of mind as the business grows.
“Having audit that instantly picks up all the discrepancies saves me so much time. It would take me a lot longer if I had to run through the file myself. That’s one of the great highlights.”
Work on your terms - work/life balance
During times of challenge, that elusive work/life balance so many strive for can seem like a pie-in-the-sky ideal. But not when you have audit and automation working for you.
Zander de Klerk, Managing Partner at Xeta, implemented automation systems from the outset of the firm. In just three years, they’ve managed to triple their business each quarter and grown to the size of a firm 20 years strong.
Using smart technology solutions, including Xero and XBert, has been crucial to their ability to deliver high quality results for their clients and scale the business rapidly, all while maintaining work/life balance for their entire staff.
“We’ve broken it down into sectional areas; we’ve broken it down into internal controls... and we have the ability to balance everyone’s workload to make it very easy. When your XBert’s are under control and your tasks are ready and set up the right way - that means you can work from the beach...or wherever you want to be, because you’ve got a simple dashboard that tells you what’s working and what’s not working and it’s easy for us to manage our own time.”
Finding your ideal balance
Whether you’re at the start of your journey and building the foundations for business growth, or you’re currently looking to streamline the way you work and manage a team - the first place to look is AI audit and workflow automation.
XBert works tirelessly to help you meet your business goals. If you’re interested in how we can help you, go ahead and start a free, no-obligation trial here.