Educating clients in the use of their systems – a need to educate the staff first?

I was setting up a client on a cloud system this week for the first time and whilst clicking around he saw a Quotes option. That was of immediate interest to him – he was currently doing quotes in Word, typing them from scratch each time. I showed him how he could quickly add an “Item” – a short code which could then populate a string of text, together with a selling price etc. Whilst this was not intended to be part of the initial implementation, it was of real benefit to him.

I then looked at another client in a similar industry; one we had only recently taken on from another practice and were still trying to “tidy up”. They also were not using the quotes part of the software.

There were lots of other very manual or time-consuming processes that could have been addressed too. There were no “bank rules” set up; an example of Artificial Intelligence in the accounting function whereby a certain transaction could be automatically coded.

This is an example of the “it does not take very long” syndrome……this might be true, but if one click can suffice to deal with a transaction instead of typing in the payee name, then clicking on a dropdown arrow, scrolling up and down (and often back up and then down again!) the list of account codes to find the required code to which the transaction needs to be allocated, over a period of time this could result in some not insignificant time savings.

On looking at the Bills (purchase invoices) screen, there were over 10,000 lines in a 6-year period – average around 1500-2000 each year. All of these had been manually keyed in by the bookkeeper. Had any of the data extraction products that could take away a lot of the manual work been discussed with the bookkeeper or business owner? That remains to be ascertained. Need to look at a particular invoice? It’s filed away in the filing cabinet – whereas it could be attached to the transaction in the software, again saving time when having to retrieve any from storage.

A list of customers – over 500 – had the same name with different codes for different jobs they had had done over the years – what about archiving those no longer needed to make it easier to identify the “current” jobs?

This prompts lots of questions….

These are fairly “basic” tools but are all staff identifying areas where these sorts of thing could be implemented? And, once identified, how are they communicated with the client and followed up?

Are all staff actually aware of the various tools, products, etc. that could make a huge difference in some cases?

Does the “time clock” get in the way, or is this outside the scope of any agreed fee in place?

Should a “cloud champion” or “cloud expert” perform a “review” rather than leaving it to the account manager to progress?

Any thoughts on these points?


  • I encounter a fair amount of (accountant) scepticism about cloud accounting platforms which has lead me to the mantra

    "you can't treat them the same as the traditional platforms, you'll just end up with all of the negatives and non for the benefits"

    For me the cloud platforms work well when you go all in, use all of the tools available in concert and you can drive some really exciting change. If you treat them like Sage you just end up with a very slow data entry system with errors that are difficult to track.

    I think, cue the vomit, that the "cloud champion" approach is the right one - how can everyone be expected to keep on top of all the technology changes? Even just Xero has had a myriad of changes over the last (and every) 12 months let alone everyone else and that's not even thinking about the ecosystem around them.

    That said I think everyone should at least have a sense of what's possible so they can have a "I'll get back to you" moment - like when a tax question sets the spider sense off.

    PS I love "it does not take long syndrome" how many wasted hours are lost to that each year? I know I'm guilty of it!