The cloud’s first victim – the data-entry bookkeeper

<!–:st–>An end to the QIF download. <!–st:–>

One of the amazing features of cloud accounting software is that most of them automatically import statements from your bank every day. Log into your cloud accounting program through your browser and there are all the transactions for the day before.

For business owners who have had to download QIF files on an irregular basis it’s hugely rewarding and can save buckets of time.

But what about the bookkeeper that used to check your paper statements against your totals in your accounting program? Is he or she now redundant?

When I wrote up a story on this topic earlier this month it received a huge response from accountants and bookkeepers.

The eventual consensus was that bookkeepers were likely to lose a substantial amount of data-entry work.

<!–:ct–>Some businesses will think that they can get away without hiring a bookkeeper at all.<!–ct:–> The options for paying electronically keep expanding; credit and debit cards, EFTPOS, direct debit, e-commerce, PayPal, and so on. Receipts for many of these transactions can be received electronically; either way they will show up in your bank statement.

For all those that don’t pay everything in cash the need to hire someone to shuffle through tiny, faded slips of paper is thankfully on the way out.

Bookkeepers – if your skills don’t stretch further than the monthly “bank rec” you should start looking to broaden your horizons. Highly skilled bookkeepers have told me they are very happy to say goodbye to data entry.

Hamish Edwards, founder of New Zealand-based cloud accounting program Xero and a chartered accountant himself, says there are two types of bookkeeper.

“You get the ones that have the helicopter view who say, ‘This is what we need to do and this is how we can improve the process’. The other ones just know how to use the software. In my opinion they shouldn’t be involved,” Hamish says.

Some businesses will think that they can get away without hiring a bookkeeper at all. But they might save on a bookkeeper’s wage only to spend more on an accountant who has to double check the boss’s figures.

For all the magic of daily statement updates, cloud accounting software can’t chase debtors for you, respond to creditors, carry out general ledger coding, reporting, do quarterly tax reports, run the payroll and answer a thousand specific questions from the business owner.

And these are all great reasons to employ a bookkeeper.


About Sholto Macpherson

Sholto Macpherson is a business technology journalist and analyst specialising in cloud accounting software. He lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Disclaimer: Sholto has written white papers and conducted surveys for accounting software companies including Sage and Xero.

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