My call out for 2015 was that client accounting services would grow substantially within all firms, and it has. A record number of firms have crossed the threshold and are moving their client’s accounting and bookkeeping functions to the cloud. In fact, Intuit’s® QuickBooks® Online subscribers increased to over 1 million by June of 2015. This trend will continue at a rapid pace, as more and more businesses are starting up, and accountants, bookkeepers and advisors are utilizing the cloud connectivity to be able to provide more advisory services and real-time data.
My predictions for 2016 revolve around workflow and automation:
- Workflow and Automation tools will eliminate data entry on the front end of all accounting systems.
- Firms will offer more Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) & Advisory Services.
I predict the intake process will change from one of manual data entry of transactions to digital capturing of invoices and receipts through auto fetching, via a Hubdoc-type of application or the capturing of an invoice through one of the tools listed below. Choosing one over the other is based on personal user needs.
Using Hubdoc, ReceiptBank, Expensify and Tallie, you pick and choose based on the services you are rendering for your client. If you need to obtain approvals before invoices are paid, you could add in another tool, such as Bill.com, which slashes bill approval and payment time by 50%.
In the diagram below, data funnels into QuickBooks Online (QBO):
While in QBO, the accountant can turn on the options to:
- Automatically schedule and send transactions
- Generate automated invoices for electronic dispatch
- Get your client paid faster via ACH or credit card payment
- Do auto bank feeds (real time bank transactions)
- Auto feed credit cards transactions and auto reconciliation
- Automatically share strategic reports, even to users not in QBO
- Generate checks automatically, in addition to many other options for automation, based on the niche need
This automation addresses the problem that firms are facing, in that they can’t find employees to do this low-level data entry work. At the same time, this digitalization of the practice makes it easier to change to value pricing and add in advisory services. As information comes out of QBO, it’s also feeding the business intelligence and analytical funnel. The various tools that are automatically receiving this information include the following:
- Qvinci: Click on this video that explains it.
- Fathom: Click on this video that explains it.
- LivePlan: Click on this video that explains it.
These tools actually automate the advisory services end of the business because they give you the information necessary to make the decisions to assist your client.
There are many other automation tools that work with the QuickBooks Online, such as TSheets, which eliminates manual functions. They are adding scheduling to their tool as I type this.
To reiterate, it is all about putting the right tools together to work with the accounting system’s platform to automate what we, as professionals, used to do manually.
Let’s see if I am three for three at the end of 2016 with my predictions, predicting that workflow and automation tools will eliminate data entry on the front end, and that BPO and advisory services will become major revenue streams for firms.