Say goodbye to spreadsheets

Many myths surround the value of spreadsheets for small businesses rather than adopting online cloud-based software.

An accountant and their client sit in front of a laptop using cloud-based software to run through business information.

‘My clients prefer them’, ‘Everyone understands spreadsheets’, and ‘Spreadsheets are more secure’ are just a few misguided assumptions that stop the way accountants and their clients evolve with the technology available to them.

The truth is that clients don’t prefer them, they’re just used to them. Given the choice between saving time by simply scanning and importing documents – linking them directly to a given project in Xero – or doing it manually with a greater risk of mistakes and hours lost, most would choose the former. The only way to know for sure is to ask them.

Everyone being aware of spreadsheets and having some basic knowledge on how to enter data isn’t the same as fully understanding them. Even within the industry, there’s a lack of comprehension about what can and can’t be done with spreadsheets, let alone for clients whose main focus is making a success of their business. Jonathan Bareham, director and co-founder at Raedan, recalls the pivotal point at which he decided to start his own firm centred around cloud-based accounting.

“I tried to create a clever Excel workbook for our firm,” Jonathan says. “Lots of macros and hot links and stuff to navigate through. The idea was that it would all be done on screen. It’d have PDF copies of bank statements in the workbook, and it would all be there. We did it all, we took it to the partners and they said, "Ah, great. Now, how do I print it?"’ He laughs at the memory. “It was one of those pull-your-hair-out moments; we'd spent months building this thing with the IT guys at the firm. I said, "You know what? I've had enough. I'm going to leave."

If you’re running or working in a spreadsheet-heavy practice you don’t have to take such drastic action to step away from spreadsheets – you can convert to being fully cloud-powered in one push, or take a more gradual approach.

If you’re an accountant in a firm, sign up to the Xero partner programme, where you’ll get the tools, resources and dedicated account management to help get your practice and clients set up. Find out more about becoming a Xero partner or email to get started.

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