Keeping an eye on the financial health of your business is easier than ever with the myriad of smart accounting software packages on the market.

But managing your money in the most effective way isn’t just about overcoming the challenge of choosing the best program, and then putting it into practice in your business.

Modern day accounting programs can perform a range of functions beyond the regular automated processes of invoicing, purchase orders and expense tracking.

Getting to know your software’s capabilities will transform the way you understand and interact with your financial data, while enabling you to reduce the time and effort required to keep your books in order.

1. Collaborate with your accountant/bookkeeper

The beauty of most accounting software programs is the ability they give you to operate within the cloud. Not only can you tap into your financial data from anywhere, you can also assign permissions that enable others to access it too.

Giving your accountant or bookkeeper access to your accounting software helps them to stay on top of your business and provide more timely advice. It also helps them to do their job more quickly and efficiently, which reduces your administration fees and frees up time to provide more valuable analysis and advice.

2. Use the mobile app

The ongoing development of smartphones, tablets and laptops has made all business practices more versatile and agile, even good old fashioned accounting.

Most accounting software programs these days also come with a mobile app, allowing you to manage your money on the go.

Bookwork no longer has to tie you to your office desk. You can send invoices, track expenses and keep an eye on your cash flow from a job site or the beach.

3. Take photos of receipts to avoid the paper build up

Keeping track of business-related expenses can be a real drag, especially for those that are on always the go.

Now accounting software programs and specialist apps allow you to take photos of and store your receipts online. Cutting the paper trail will not only make your life easier, it will also make your accountant’s job quicker, reducing your fees.

4. Learn to read your financial reports to identify trends and address risks

While your accounting software is beneficial for its ability to automate and make many of your day-to-day tasks easier, its real value lies in the myriad of reports it can generate from your raw financial data.
From sales reports to cash flow analysis, the software can help you identify trends and spot potential risks at a glance, allowing you to get on the front foot before any serious issues arise.

Getting to know the various reports available and reviewing them on a regular basis will enable you to see everything from the state of your current cash flow – and any issues that may arise in the near future – to the longer-term trends of declining sales, or changing demand for key products or services.

It’s a great idea to sit down with your accountant, review the available reports and determine those reports that are most critical to your business. With your accountant’s guidance you can understand how to read the reports and when to react.

5. Tailor your ‘dashboard’ to make sure it tells you at a glance how your business is going

As a business owner there never seems to be enough time in the day for all the tasks you need to complete. But taking the time out to properly set up your accounting software dashboard will enable you to get on top of your business at a glance.

By selecting what is on display in easy-to-read charts, graphs and tables, you can track everything at a glance, from the state of your bank balances and cash flow, to your total and outstanding invoices and upcoming bills that need to be paid.

If you aren’t sure how best to set up your dashboard, discuss this with your accountant. They will help you identify the key financial measures to watch and can set up the dashboard for you if you don’t have the time or inclination.

6. Explore add-ons and apps

Most accounting software programs come with the same basic functions such as invoicing and expense tracking.

Depending on the nature of your business, it may benefit you to add more functionality to your software by purchasing add-ons or setting up third party apps.

For example, if your business operates on a project or job basis, you may want to be able to clearly assess the profitability of each individual project. If you are using Xero, then you could consider adding on Xero Projects, which enables allocation of time and costs and invoicing to individual projects.

Job tracking can be taken even further with third-party integrations such as Service M8. This field service management app helps you to manage jobs, staffing and operations from initial quote to payment and synchonises seamlessly with most accounting software packages.

These are just two examples of add-ons and apps that can improve your business functionality. When it comes to ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of your operations and administration there are a plethora of solutions out there. The key is knowing what you need.

If you want to improve efficiency but aren’t sure where to start, sit down with your accountant and talk about what’s working and what’s not. Once clear about what operations are slowing you down or holding you back, your accountant will be able to help you identify add ons and apps that will move your business forward.

HQB Accountants, Auditors and Advisors proudly offers an Accounting Software Advisory Service. As well as being available to help you choose the best software for your business and get the basics in place, we are also here to help you improve, automate and enhance your system to ensure your business is operating to its full potential. Talk to us about how we can help.

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