Three of New Zealand’s leading cloud service providers for SMBs outline the benefits of the cloud platform for driving business efficiency and savings.
Let the Cloud do your accounts for you
In an ideal world, your monthly accounts would simply do themselves and leave you and your employees free to focus on your core business.
Even in the age of automation and the rapid development of AI, that’s not likely to happen any time soon.
However, if your Cloud accounting software systems are set up properly it can do the majority of your checks and balances throughout the month – and year – to allow you more time to run and grow the company.
Kay Smart, of Smart Accounting Services, which service the Bay of Plenty region, says it is important for SMEs to get things right from the start, and keeping finances and records up to date is essential for growth and development.
“You want to future-proof your business and make it the best it can be. It’s all about redefining and taking control of your accounts, and investment in the Cloud is something that will pay off now and in the long run,” she says.
Smart assists many companies in the Bay of Plenty with their accounts using Cloud accounting software company Reckon NZ’s products Reckon One and Reckon Hosted.
She says the beauty of Reckon One and Reckon Hosted is that as well as being storage platforms for all financial data they also act as a pivotal point for a company’s entire ecosystem.
“The Cloud is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere and from any device. Online Cloud accounting means small and medium business owners stay connected to their financial data and their accountant – it’s right at their fingertips,” she says.
Reckon’s products allow SMEs to easily manage everything from basic business practices such as invoicing, GST processing, and accounts owing, through to integrating specific industry applications needed for your business.
Features and processes aside, Smart says cost is also a serious motivation for her clients to move to the Cloud.
“The majority of my clients are small businesses and the introduction of either Reckon One or Reckon Hosted is proving a real winner as far as cost is concerned.”
Smart has been working with emerging Whakatane-based business, Diverse Graphics, which started out three years ago and wanted to get things right from day one.
“The owners had never owned a business before, however they realised the benefits of using an accounting system that could automate simple tasks, such as invoices, and do a lot of the work for them,” says Smart.
Diverse Graphics, which was highly commended at the 2016 Eastern Bay Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, use Reckon Hosted to enable both the owners and Smart to log into their file, track the company’s performance, and fix any issues that may arise.
“It allows us to have easy access to the most up-to-date information when it comes to tax planning and major financial expenditure decisions,” says Smart.
“The owners simply enter the bills for accounts owing and for invoicing and at the end of the month I do the bank reconciliations and the GST return.
“It means we’re keeping a close eye on how the business is progressing but also leaves the owners free to do what they are good at – running their business.”
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4 ways Xero works for your business
Cloud technology has completely transformed the way small businesses work.
When it comes to accounting, small business owners are increasingly favouring online platforms as, with access to real-time financial data, they can accurately identify opportunities, make strategic decisions and improve business performance.
Xero, with more than one million subscribers globally, is one of the world’s leading cloud accounting platforms. A powerful online accounting system at its core, Xero provides a growing family of connected solutions to help small business owners manage their cashflow, get paid, run payroll and more; all in one intuitive and easy-to-use platform.
Here’s how Xero works for small businesses:
- Manage cashflow
Xero’s intuitive dashboard enables users to see, at a glance, how their business is doing, in real-time. Rather than getting caught up in spreadsheets and complicated calculations, the user can see, by way of graphs and charts, what cash is due to go in and out of the business each month based on bills and invoices entered into Xero. It’s just one of the ways Xero uses automation to give back valuable time to the business owner, to focus on more important things.
With Xero’s dashboard, a business owner can see not only this but outstanding invoices, budgets, custom metrics and more, helping them track their finances easily.
- Get paid
Time spent chasing invoices is harmful to any business, and can potentially cause a knock-on effect. Online invoicing is one of the most effective ways to help mitigate late payments, and Xero’s invoicing feature enables the user to send an invoice from anywhere on any device.
Invoices are customisable, and the optional ‘Pay Now’ button enables recipients to settle immediately with a debit or credit card or PayPal. Invoicing promptly, as well as automated invoice reminders (another Xero feature) are useful ways to help stay on top of invoices, save time and get paid faster.
- Find the right technology fit
Given that what works for one business might not work for another, it’s important to provide businesses with choice, rather than locking them into a one-size-fits-all approach. Xero’s App Marketplace, featuring more than 500 app solutions, provides business owners the option to pick and choose the technology that best suits their needs. A one-stop shop, Marketplace covers everything from document management to time tracking to HR. Searchable by industry or app function, and featuring peer reviews, Marketplace makes it easy for the user to create an online accounting solution that works for them.
- Do it all from anywhere, securely
Perhaps one of the best parts of cloud technology is the ability to log in wherever there’s an Internet connection. With cloud accounting software, business owners can check their cashflow on their way to a meeting, or do their bank reconciliation while waiting to pick the kids up from school.
Not only is cloud technology convenient, it’s secure. Every small business owner wants to be assured that their sensitive financial data is protected, and cloud apps have teams of security experts working around the clock to protect their users’ information.
The vast majority of small business owners have an accountant or bookkeeper they lean on for advice. Operating on a single online ledger with Xero makes it easier to collaborate with an advisor, with the ability to bring up reports instantly and discuss how the business is running. This gives the business owner the ability to choose an advisor that’s right for them, rather than just one that’s local.
Let Xero start working for your business. Start your free Xero trial at xero.com
What to look for in cloud payroll
The adoption of cloud-based services is no longer a new business trend and has become an established way of delivering applications and services to businesses across all manner of different industries and sectors. For most businesses today, it is not a question of why should you be online, but rather why are you not already – and which digital channels are you using?
Datacom Payroll has been delivering cloud-based solutions for many years – providing New Zealand’s first online payroll service NetPay, targeted at small business, and DataPay for its larger enterprise customers.
“In our experience, a significant decision to move to cloud-based systems occurs when business owners realise the hidden costs in maintaining and looking after in-house systems,” explains Datacom Payroll’s manager strategy and compliance, Chris Mar.
“Cloud-based solutions provide shared infrastructure, backup, disaster recovery and resilience that would otherwise need to be paid for individually in a desktop in-house solution. “Additionally, the capital tied up in building and maintaining the equipment to run the in-house solution is eliminated. There is just a simple monthly fee based on paying for what you use, all in all reducing your total cost of ownership.”
Of course, not all cloud providers are equal, and owners looking to adopt cloud solutions should look for ones with an established track record, especially in mission critical systems like payroll. “A true cloud application is one that is designed for a cloud environment from the bottom up and is not simply a traditional application that is hosted in a cloud environment,” says Mar.
“It will be multi-tenanted, meaning that the same application is used simultaneously by all customers (or tenants).
“This means there is a single application to manage, upgrade, or integrate with external systems. The important difference to you is that the overall cost will be lower and you’ll get upgrades for free,” Mar says.
Check what kind of mobile strategy your vendor has, if any at all, adds Mar.
“Mobile continues to grow as the platform of choice in the connected world. The proliferation of smart yet relatively low cost devices means that people are more accessible than ever, and with this they expect to be able to interact whenever and wherever it makes sense for them to do so.”
Mar says mobile applications like Datacom’s MyPay allow employees access to payroll information when they need it, whether they be at a meeting with a bank manager applying for a home loan, or sick in bed requesting leave.
“The key here is being able to help someone do what they want to do, when they want to do it, rather than constraining them to having to remember to fill in a form or get back to a computer later.”
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