What’s in it for you?
I’m an Accountant too and both I and my clients who use Central Accounting ERP have found the following advantages:
- Client Profitability – we record hours worked on a client file directly into our system and can quickly produce a profit & loss statement for work done on any client
- Instant Access – I can access my clients’ data from almost anywhere and if necessary advise on, or correct, an issue before it becomes a problem
- Real Time Accounting – the application employs ‘real-time accounting’ where the financial transactions are created by the application in the background as my clients process and record the day-to-day events in their operations, greatly reducing the need for traditional bookkeeping
- SaveTime – I’m also spending less time correcting client bookkeeping errors since the majority of transactions types have their own templates, which is particularly important when operating a fixed price services contract as we do
- Always the Latest Version – I’m not having to invest in the latest version of whatever software the clients use in order to accommodate their backup files for review and period end processing as I work directly in their system and any corrections I make are incorporated immediately
- On-line Filing – I don’t need to invest in additional software to file clients’ returns on-line with HM Revenue & Customs (*)
- Commission – where my client is billed direct for the software, I get a commission from having made the introduction, and because Central Accounting is a cloud based SaaS (Software as a Service) business application, clients essentially rent the application, and as long as they continue to rent, commission continues to be payable on the rentals so I have an ongoing revenue stream
- We all Save – where the software charge is included in my fees to the client (generally for the smaller clients), I can take advantage of the ‘multiple business discount‘ arrangement (the practice pays £14 per month plus VAT per 5 user client installation based on £35 list price less 20% commission, less 50% multiple installations discount) which means that I can pass some of that saving onto the clients
However, perhaps the biggest advantage of all is that the client gets the software it needs to improve its business efficiencies and productivity, and we as a service provider, can focus on supporting their business rather than simply producing numbers.
In our view, this ‘business partner’ approach is where all accounting practices should aim to be, as we believe it generates a better return for the client, greater job satisfaction for the accountant, and improved business performance for both, and that this holds true whether you are an external service provider such as ourselves, or an internal employed resource.
This view is supported by research carried out by CIMA in co-operation with the UK’s University of Bath which shows that momentum towards positions of greater responsibility is likely to continue for accountants the world over. While more analysis remains to be done, initial findings suggest a movement towards roles that add value beyond traditional financial recording and reporting: “In June 2010, the survey conducted by CIMA and the University of Bath showed that financial professionals around the world are embracing the increased responsibilities that come with a more strategic role. Generally, they view this shift as necessary for both career progression and personal job satisfaction.”
Who are you?
You are an accountant is practice, or accounting services provider, looking to distinguish your offering from others by providing your clients with a distinctive and high quality service which takes advantage of the productivity gains which new technology can deliver.
You are engaged in providing services to small firms of up to 50 staff, and who need more than just a basic bookkeeping application as they have more complex requirements such as stock control, or a need to plan their production or projects.
What is Central Accounting?
Central Accounting is a cloud based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) application – see www.centralaccounting.co.uk/erp-software for a guide to ERP, and www.centralaccounting.co.uk/features for the main features of the Central Accounting application.
Central Accounting has been developed in response to the lack of a viable, cost-effective solution for small firms from the main ERP application providers – see www.centralaccounting.co.uk/linkedin.
The main advantages of our application can be summarised as follows:
- ‘cloud’ based so no expensive hardware or networks to set up and maintain
- secure remote access from (almost) any location making it ideal for multi-site, and flexible home/ office working
- Software as a Service’ (SaaS) which means no expensive up front investment in specialist software or updates to the latest version
- includes payroll so no additional cost for payroll software, and labour costs can be captured and analysed by department, project, or job
- bookkeeping is being done in the background in ‘real time’ so accountants can spend their time focusing on the business instead of number crunching
- designed for use by non-accountants with templates for common transactions to reduce error, routines for creating accruals and prepayments, and depreciation
- on screen resource scheduling so work can be planned more efficiently and the impact of changes on other orders and jobs can seen immediately
- on screen requirements planning shows not only what purchases or production is needed, but when, so there are immediate cashflow benefits
You might find the short online demonstration Accounting Aspects helpful to understand just what Central accounting ERP can do for you and for your clients.
The main disadvantages of our application can be summarised as follows:
- real time accounting means that it is not well suited to batch input of large quantities of documents, so it would not be suitable for bureau-type operations
- it relies upon good access to the Internet, and so would not fare well in remote regions or areas where access is poor or unreliable (though this is becoming less of an issue in our view).
Of course not all small firms, and particularly very small firms, require the level of sophistication that an ERP application can deliver, and there are a number of similarly priced online solutions available that can handle basic bookkeeping. However it would be a mistake to assume that Central Accounting is only useful for manufacturing operations as it includes functionality which in addition to reporting on the performance of the whole operation, can also report by jobs/ projects, and departments, and is therefore useful for project based operations.
Uniquely it also includes ‘overhead recovery’ functionality which allows Charities and Voluntary Sector Organisations (“VSOs”) to report on a ‘Full Cost Recovery’ basis as required by guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Executive Officers in Voluntary Organisations (“ACEVO”).
(*) Note(1): current functionality includes payroll end of year online filing; VAT, Corporation Tax and Partnership Tax Returns are scheduled to be live from end of 2013.
Note(2): where an accountant, bookkeeper or other service provider uses the application as part of his or her service offering to clients, then he or she will also have access to a dedicated installation for his or her own use; it is the service provider’s choice choice whether this is used as a live installation for their own accounting requirements or as a test system for client support and training.