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How to Automate your Accounts on Autopilot
Welcome to age of automation handling regular business routines. Automation is application of the 20/80 rule in live business operations.
So spending the weekend or wee hours of the evening is when most business owners get to the accounts.
We get it. As business owners, we’ve of a similar mindset in terms of prioritising the product, customer service and raising awareness.
That doesn’t mean we have to leave the upkeep of the our accounts until a wad of late fees are piling outside the door.
Welcome to age of automation handling regular business routines.
Automation is application of the 20/80 rule in live business operations.
That is, a focused efforts providing a recurring ROI based on the initial effort in implementation.
There’s plenty of cases for business automation already in effect:
Marketing – Drip campaigns, social media campaigns and even chatbots can be pre-programmed months in advance.
Booking matching schedules – Calendly links our schedules together, eliminating 3-5 emails correspondence in between.
Bookkeeping – absolutely, there’s a whole raft of apps for business to trial with.
Accounting tech has also come a long way since the cloud revolution.
Thankfully we longer have to hand type bank transactions, bug the bank for statements and maintain paper ledgers in already filled filing cabinets.
Today, our desks can be practically clear except for a laptop and high speed internet connection.
The power is all there pre-programmed, designed for maximum utility and versatile enough to employ.
Automating the accounts is about leveraging the right apps & systems.
We’re a big fan of the Xero ecosystem at Fullstack – being Gold Xero Accountants and all – for several reasons. It’s super client-friendly, report-friendly and therefore accountant-friendly.
It also allows us to employ the power of automation to the max and reduces the time spend on our own accounts to a few minutes a week.
So how do we do it?
Accounts System Setup
We’ve used over 6 accounting systems and have run workshops on several.
Xero is the automatist’s choice here because of its fluid interface and quality app ecosystem which is not too dissimilar to Apple’s.
Bank Feeds Setup
Next step is to have your bank and accounting platform speaking to each other.
Bank feeds reduce double-handling of your information and lets your accounts receive daily updates across your bank, credit card & PayPal accounts.
Bank Rules Setup (optional)
Xero employs AI so that it learns to how to reconcile transactions as you go – practically helping you automate your accounts.
If you want to speed up the process, you can set out bank rules that recognise given suppliers and assign data to it based on your instructions.
Setup Receipt Bank
Receipt Bank is a master of recognising data from your bills; be it a pdf document or even a photo from your smartphone. It’s OCR technology in practice.
Bills in this format can be emailed across to Receipt Bank which assigns information to the expenditure.
Setup Payment Gateway
As for income, you definitely want to direct customers to a smart payment gateway which facilitates payment, issues an invoice and pushes the transactions across to Xero.
Depending on your industry, there’s usually a gateway for you.
Service-based – Practice Ignition is your best bet which offers monthly recurring fees as well as one off projects.
SaaS-based – Most tech enterprises utilise a combination of their own developed API as well as a payment solution like Stripe.
Product-based – An e-commerce outlet like Shopify or Squarespace have e-commerce facilities straight out of the box.
Retail-based – Vend offers the best facility for retail store owners wanting a point-of-sale solution.
Implement an Accounts Procedure
To co-ordinate the bookkeeping and manage expectations you then need to setup an effective accounts procedure for everyone involved – the bookkeeper, the finance manager or CFO and the business owner.
Our accounts procedures usually cover off on the following.
Task – The part of the bookkeeping cycle – payroll, BAS, reconciliations, reimbursements or other.
Frequency – How often you address the given task
Person Responsible – Bookkeeper, admin staff, CFO and yourself should also feature here (unless you are confident in everyone performing the accounts departments
Accounts Procedure champion – Schedules & personnel will change and when that occurs, changes should be routed through the champion to advise everyone on next steps.
Implement Xero Super
The traditional task of paying everyone’s super used to involve logging into each staff’s individual superfund, setting up accounts, determining the amount payable and repeating this every quarter.
With Xero Super, super liabilities are calculated automatically alongside the payroll. When ready to settle your employee’s liability, just click beside the relevant liabilities and authorise payment all within the Xero platform.
Caveat - even 100% automation requires some oversight
Accuracy, speed, reliability and frequency are the hallmarks of a well-automated system.
It’s when changes occur that our oversight is required.
So whilst current tech is not fully there in terms of being 100% hands off with the accounts (particularly where new suppliers & new employees appear) with a combination of the right apps and expert oversight you can drastically improve the efficiency & autonomy of your accounts workflow.
Which means we can get back to other aspects of the business with more confidence!
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Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech companies, agencies and entrepreneurs.