Time to get your head in the cloud

Rohan Brown

What an interesting and fast moving time we are currently living in. Technology is very quickly evolving and providing us opportunities that just a few years ago we could only dream of.

Just today when I met with a client who is a sole trader in a trade-related business we looked at three great opportunities.

Our discussion was started from a comment about the pricing increase from MYOB for their AccountRight Live application. Their AccountRight Live software is installed on a Windows computer with the data file stored in the cloud. Bank feeds are connected via MYOB for efficiency.

From this we had a look at the Xero software package which in his circumstances is cheaper. We spent some time looking at the opportunities offered by fully cloud-based applications. The first thing which grabbed the client’s attention was that he could use Xero on a tablet device, in his case an iPad.

He already has good internet accessible from his mobile phone and has a SIM in the iPad providing mobile internet as well. This removed the need to take a PC-based computer out in his work vehicle, but rather take a much smaller, more portable iPad instead.

Simply complete a job, grab the iPad and enter the details there and then. The bill can be reviewed with the client there and then which helps with acceptance of the fee. The invoice can then be emailed directly right then. He would also be able to attach documents to the invoice such as compliance certificates or photos of the task. This would save administration time later, cut postage and was timely for the customer.

This brought us to looking at add-ons. Our first point was Receipt Bank. This is great for those on the road or who regularly make payments via credit card at the shop front. Simply scan a photo of the receipt and presto, Receipt Bank reads the receipt, taking the supplier details, amount and date and imports them, together with a copy of the invoice into Xero. A saving in time and effort, no need to store paper invoices and makes month-end book work a breeze when it matches to the Bank Feeds.

Further to our discussion about emailing invoices directly to the client, what could be better than being able to take payment from the client on the spot too? That brought up the thought of Square which is a little white block that syncs with your smart phone and allows you to take debit and credit card payments with either chip, swipe or tap-n-go. If a PIN is required the customer enters that via the phone app for the Square. Next day the funds are in your account, again Xero matches the bank feed with the entered invoice.
What is the catch with all of this? It is cost. Xero is a monthly subscription, Receipt Bank involves a monthly fee and Square charges between 1.9% and 2.2%. But weigh up the efficiency they add. Either you can get more chargeable work done or simply work in the cost to your charge rate. If it provides more time after work to spend with your family, what is that worth?

The example of these three applications make business seamless, improve cashflow and saves huge amounts of admin time. They are just three examples of current applications that are doing things that just a few years ago seemed a dream.

For more information jump online to the Xero Marketplace or MYOB Add-On pages and check out what opportunities exist for you.