Remember how we used to work?
We may all harbour some nostalgia for memos, pigeon holes and printed ledgers, but probably not for the 12-hour days and insomnia-inducing deadlines. Accounting technology has made life easier and more transparent for both accountants and their customers. But are we really making the most of it?
Just think for a moment about the incredible impact technology has had on the way we work over the last 20 years.
When I look back to 1999, I was working for a FTSE250 Property Group.
Our office had one email address. The MD’s PA was in control of it and we had to ask ‘nicely’ if we needed an email sent ‘on our behalf’ to someone!
Correspondence was by memo (remember those?) and internal mail was collected in ‘pigeon holes’.
Accounts software was a horrendous bespoke package which was slow and difficult to wade through – one tab at a time. Month end reporting had to be completed within 3 days of the month end, usually involving two or three 12-hour days to get it done on time.
Added to all that we had the threat of Y2K and the fear that computer systems would shut down on the stroke of midnight between 1999 to 2000.
Our team in Accounts had to print off the company’s detailed sales and purchase ledgers for the previous three years. For a business with a £100m annual turnover, that was a lot of paper.
It took one member of staff more than a month to complete this mind-numbing task – on top of their normal workload.
All because of a threat that never materialised!
Looking back it hardly seems fathomable that’s how we worked.
Today with cloud technology; emails, accounts software, app integrations, we are able to achieve so much more in much less time.
You’d think that everyone in the accountancy world would have grasped this opportunity with both hands.
There are still businesses out there struggling with outdated desktop software and receiving limited advice based on out-of-date information (last year’s annual accounts, anyone?)
While its fair to say that not every business needs more real time support and advice, I’m pretty sure most would like the choice.
‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them’
Steve Jobs bang on the money again.
So, for any accountants who haven’t ‘embraced the cloud’, is this because you haven’t changed the way you work or do your clients really not want that option?
Remember, just because you’ve always worked a certain way doesn’t mean you still need to, or that you should.