Embracing Change: The Clear Path for Success as a Bookkeeper
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about accountants is that we're boring and so is our work. I get it! Like any other profession, we have to deal with some preliminary tasks that can be mundane and dull. However, technology is increasingly helping us automate tasks like data entry so we can concentrate on to the more interesting and creative aspects of our jobs.
As repetitive and time consuming as it may be, data entry is a crucial part of what every accountant does. We have to be meticulous and timely in this activity. If we miss an invoice or enter an incorrect sum today, we may have problems compiling reports or preparing taxes later in the year. And if we put data entry off for another time, we may find ourselves overwhelmed as paperwork piles up.
But I didn’t become an accountant to spend my time manually entering data. I wanted to solve problems. Ever since my high school accounting classes, it felt like a game to me. Reconciling a financial statement was like assembling the pieces of a puzzle—something I had an aptitude for. I was always looking to fill in the big picture.
One of the biggest challenges in my field is accounting records. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business doing your own books, or a CPA firm with hundreds of clients. Whether you're balancing books manually, running QuickBooks Online, or using Excel to forecast revenue and growth, it all depends on maintaining proper financial records.
Managing these records can present quite a challenge. You can find yourself dealing with spreadsheets and boxes of receipts, bank and credit card statements, checks and ledgers, invoices and any number of physical and electronic documents. You have to enter all this data into whatever system you’re using. It’s time consuming, it’s boring, and the potential for human error is huge.
Building a QuickBooks Division
I’ve been with since 2007. Rodefer Moss is a regional accounting and consulting firm with over 50 years of experience with eight offices in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Our motto is “Listening Better, Trying Harder, Caring More.”
Our client base consists of individuals, public and private companies, non-profit organizations and government entities. Our clients are not concentrated in any one industry: we have numerous construction, public utilities, not-for-profit, financial services, manufacturing, real estate, and governmental clients. Our services include but are not limited to: Audit and accounting Services, Tax management, Financial Management, Strategic Management & Planning, Succession Planning and Valuations & Forensic Accounting.
About two months after I started working here, my boss suggested that somebody should be trained in QuickBooks. We had a lot of clients who used it, but nobody understood it. Somebody pointed at me and said, “Well, I think the new girl should do it.”
I really should thank that person.
I started working on the certifications right away. I went to every class I could find and did all the online training that was out there. I learned everything I could. Eleven years later, it has basically become its own division at Rodefer Moss.
Embracing Technology in a Conservative Industry
It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with technology, but it helps make my job interesting. I also understand people in accounting can be afraid of change, especially those who work for more traditional firms. They don’t want to try new things. They like their methodology, and they don’t want anybody making changes.
I realize it’s not just accountants. There are people in other industries who don’t want to try new things. They’re scared. They say to themselves, “If the technologies out there can make the work so much easier, why do they need us?” As professionals, we have to embrace these new technologies. We have to grow with them and adapt, because it’s the only way to keep offering value to our customers.
The key to everything we do as accountants is bookkeeping. It’s a huge part of all of our jobs, and it all depends on data entry. As I’ve already said, it can get tedious. Let’s face it; nobody goes into accounting to manually enter data.
I knew there had to be a better way to handle it. Our clients don’t want to do it for themselves, but they also don’t want to pay extra to have one of our CPAs do it for them.
Manual data entry can be a losing proposition for everyone involved. If we charge by the hour, we risk clients leaving because the fees add up very quickly since it’s such time-intensive work. If we charge a flat fee, we can actually end up in the red. There’s often more paperwork than we anticipated, and entering everything eats up the time we allocated for actual accounting work.
Moving to Automated Data Entry
I was on the lookout for a possible solution, but I didn’t know what it looked like. I like to keep up with technology. It’s a challenge that helps keep my job interesting. That’s why I go to the conference every year. It’s the number one event for QuickBooks ProAdvisors like myself. It has multiple tracks available throughout the conference including workshops, discussions about new accounting trends, and demos of all the latest software.
Every year I come back with new information, but it takes a while to process all of it, and to apply it to my daily work routine. At the conference, I discovered , which seemed like a possible solution to our data entry woes. But, ultimately, it wasn’t my decision to make.
I recommended it to my boss—who is one of the firm’s partners—but like many accountants, he was reluctant about trying a new technology. Fortunately, he agreed to go to a local conference, where he met Receipt Bank VP Damien Greathead, who showed him the app in action. That brief encounter answered all of his questions and calmed his fears.
“Let's just do it,” he said. "We can run a couple of beta tests and if it doesn’t work, we can go back to the old way.”
As it turns out, one of Rodefer Moss'affiliates, Epayroll Resource Group, LLC, was our first client and he is their managing partner. This was a fantastic opportunity to have him on the client side using ReceiptBank, and me on the administrative side. We added a few more clients shortly afterwards, and started building a process.
The first lesson we learned is that we shouldn’t do what clients want us to do. They need to understand that we are the experts and in order to be efficient, concise and accurate, we need to take the lead. We give them the applications that we recommend and work with on a regular basis in order to have more streamlined and standardized procedures providing them with an efficient cloud-based paperless system that simplifies the data-entry process.
The second thing we learned is that the real product we offer is time. By streamlining data entry, everyone can gain back valuable time and focus on more important work.
Saving Time and Earning More with Receipt Bank
Receipt Bank has literally given me back hours every day. Before Receipt Bank, if I got handed 50 invoices for a client, it would take hours to process. Now, I can do it 15 to 20 minutes. This newfound efficiency saves my clients money, but it also gives me more time to focus on other aspects of my job, like training. There’s less bookkeeping and more consulting. I’m available to work on projects and tasks that don’t involve data entry; the kind of things I love to do.
Receipt Bank is also helping our QuickBooks clients streamline their own data entry and storage. They’re not storing paper any more. Filing cabinets full of invoices and receipts are in our past. Some of our construction clients keep boxes of paperwork in their pickup trucks. At some point they have to enter the contents into a spreadsheet and give it to someone else to track.
That’s no longer the case. They still have those boxes in their vehicles, but now they photograph all that paper with their phones, and Receipt Bank converts it into data for QuickBooks. It’s easy. It’s seamless. They don’t have to think about it.
We can also now communicate with them through the app, too. If there’s an issue with a receipt or invoice, we can contact them right away. It’s so much more efficient than trying to contact them after the fact, when we’re the ones entering their data.
The other thing you have to consider is that our clients have businesses to run. Data entry is always a secondary consideration. Now, they can do it while on the go: at lunch or between pitches at their kid’s big game.
Another major improvement is the quality of the data we get by automating the capture process with Receipt Bank. We have fewer errors, better numbers, and more data earlier in the year. As a result, we have increased our ability to help our clients make wiser decisions about tax planning, and we can provide them with improved financial and strategic forecasts. This puts us a step ahead, instead of leaving us struggling to catch up with data entry.
Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud
If we are to continue to prosper and grow as accountants, we have to help our clients prosper and grow. We can do this by working as consultants, and by transforming our roles into business partners. But we have to recognize our clients may be as reluctant to embrace change as some old-school accountants.
If you’re looking to modernize your accounting practice through the automation of your business—along with the integration of a cloud- and app-based solution like Receipt Bank—the smartest move you can make is to cherry-pick your initial lot of clients.
Make sure their business models fit the changes you’re trying to implement in your practice. You don’t want to force a square peg into a round hole. You don’t want to struggle to create a false fit.
If you choose the right clients for your pilot, the results will be self-evident. Even the most conservative accountants will have to agree that streamlining the bookkeeping process with Receipt Bank will open up a whole new world of business opportunities.