The one thing accountants and bookkeepers are always short on is time. Balancing client work, advisory, admin and growing their own teams, all whilst trying to run a profitable practice.
This can take its toll on accountants, with our recent State of Accounting research in South Africa revealing that two thirds (64%) experience stress as a result of work and face continued challenges like loadshedding (75%) and economic instability (71%).
We spoke with a partner who has been able to significantly boost productivity and reduce the admin burden over the last year – freeing up almost a day of time a week – by adopting new digital tools. This is giving them time back to focus on growth, value add work, invest in skills and take time back for themselves.
Barbara Mundell, the founder of Vision Business Consulting – a firm based near Johannesburg shared some insight on their digital journey, the impact it’s had on their efficiency and what’s next for the practice.
Adopting new technology
Vision Business Consulting started using Xero last year. “One of our biggest clients wanted to move software, which opened the door for us to consider using Xero. We started testing it and the more we used it, and our clients experienced it, the more we loved it. The thing we love the most is the simplicity and the great reporting functionality on the Xero platform,” Barbara commented.
“It’s always daunting adopting new technology, especially when you have to bring clients on that journey with you too. But it’s great to see them embracing change too. In fact, one of our clients said to us recently ‘our cash flow has never looked so good’, since they started using Xero,” she continued.
For Barbara and the team, it’s not only enabled more collaboration with clients but has significantly boosted productivity. “On the first client we moved to Xero – an IT solutions business with 38 staff – we’ve now freed almost a whole day a week from one of our junior team members.
“We’ve used Xero alongside tools like Hubdoc to ease the admin burden around supply invoices. That means one member of the team saves a day of admin time a week because of the productivity saving, which is huge for us!” Barbara continued. This is putting the team in a position to have better, more meaningful conversations with clients and act as true business advisors.
Cultivating skills for the future
These productivity savings mean the Vision Consulting team is able to invest time back into the future of the practice.
“This time saved has meant we can put the most junior member of our team in training courses, so we can invest in his future too. It’s really important to upskill our team, we want them to be more tech savvy. In fact, when we hire we often look for more digital skills than traditional accounting skills to help drive innovation and embrace software,” Barbara continued.
Barbara is not alone in this outlook. Our State of Accounting research found that the top areas accountants plan to invest in this year are upskilling current staff (66%) and 78% plan to allocate budget to train teams to better utilise new digital tools.
Continuing the digital journey
Looking forward, supporting small businesses in the ecommerce space will be a big focus for the Vision Consulting team. “Ecommerce is a big passion for me, and I’ve helped a client build an online store before. It’s such a fast growing area of our economy and the role that digital tools can play in supporting it is massive,” Barbara continued.
“Tools like the Shopify integration with Xero make it so much easier for these businesses to streamline operations and finances. I’m part of a number of ecommerce support groups, so we’re really looking forward to growing our client base in this area and helping them to innovate.”