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How one SA accounting firm is halving the time spent on manual tasks with Xero’s digital tax tools

Posted 2 weeks ago in Advisors by Colin Timmis
Posted by Colin Timmis

Over the last 18 months it’s been great to see so many accounting firms in South Africa innovating and embracing cloud technology whether that’s moving from desktop or further expanding the digital tools they use. 

We’ve seen the transformational impact this can have on practices. It’s helping them to streamline processes, save time so they can step into more of an advisory role, and provide better support to the small business community. 

We speak with two firms about the digital journey they’ve been on. For Cape Town based MGI Bass Gordon, the pandemic accelerated their move into the cloud, but now they are embedding it even further to save significant time. 

For Pietermaritzburg based VHA Accounting, moving to the cloud in 2020 has helped to accelerate their growth and expand their services. 

Taking back time and driving efficiencies

Since moving to Xero, MGI Bass Gordon have seen a positive impact on the business operations and efficiencies. Susan van der Valk says: “We’ve been tracking some of the time savings, and it’s helping us to significantly cut the hours we spend on manual tasks. This means we can invest more time in the more important things like winning new clients.”

And they can see these time savings reflected in the numbers. Susan continues: “We’ve been tracking the hours spent since using Xero versus what the hours were like on our old software and the results are really impressive. Using Xero along with Swift CSV to streamline the process of importing statements has reduced our hours significantly, despite the number of transactions we’re processing going up. 

To put this into perspective, we have more than halved our hours on manual tasks for some clients. For example, we were spending 58 hours manually handling transactions for one client, this is now just 29 hours since moving to Xero fully.”

The team has also been further embedding Xero tools over the last year, like Xero’s VAT eFiling tools. “Since we started using Xero’s VAT tools, it’s taken away the room for error. 

What we really like is the peace of mind knowing that you get the correct information into the SARS system each time. Let’s be honest, there are few things as frustrating as submitting incorrect information and then trying to deal with SARS to correct it. So these tools reduce the risk of penalties or interest.” adds Susan.

Stepping into the cloud

For VHA accounting, moving to Xero from desktop was a big transition. However, it’s one that’s paid off. Reflecting on the transition, Vidyanth Bhola from VHA Accounting says: “When we first set-up Xero it was quite overwhelming and we were worried about getting all our team up to speed on the technology and able to use it effectively.

But after connecting with our Xero account manager and working closely with them to help realise the full potential for our business, we haven’t looked back. Since then, we’ve grown from having 44 clients using Xero to over 150 today. We have opened a new branch in Umhlanga, hired more staff and have plans in place to open new offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town in the future.”

Vidyanth credits some of this growth to working with the Xero team to harness the full power of the platform. “We’ve worked really closely with the Xero team to look at ways we can boost efficiencies and improve our services. Connected tools in the Xero ecosystem like Hubdoc, Swift CSV, Analytics and connections with capital providers like Bridgement have helped us digitise nearly every aspect of our business.”

Building an ecosystem of connected tech

MGI Bass Gordon have been using Xero’s App Store to support clients too. “One of my personal favourites is Hubdoc. I love being able to show clients how seamless it is – a quick photo from your phone and then the receipt information goes straight into their accounting system. It makes clients feel more engaged and part of the process,” Susan comments.

“We’ve been working closely with clients to recommend apps that will work well for their daily business operations. We’ve added Syft Analytics to our app stack for many clients as it’s such a great reporting tool. The fact that it feeds off live information from Xero helps us to have meaningful conversations.” Susan concludes.

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