Prime Blog

February 2012

More time on the beach for clients

Cloud accounts systems like Xero have a lot to answer for.

Back in the old days of accounting you had one accounts department and things were straight forward. You took trainees on with A levels or a degree and they worked their way up through semi-senior, senior, supervisor and manager, hopefully qualifying along the way. Some moved on into industry others stayed and became partners. We all understood the structure.

Then ten years ago we increasingly found ourselves preparing management accounts for some of our accounts clients, which was a bit of a nuisance. You wanted the same person to do it each quarter for continuity but then would find out that they were out of the office for a week on audit. So someone else did it or it had to wait - neither option was ideal.

So the management accounts department was born with one person in it who was office bound and provided continuity. Increases in demand for this work led to more staff being taken on in management accounts and moving backwards and forwards between there and the accounts department as they progressed with their studies.

Then new software companies go and spoil things by breaking the mould.

Using Xero, Dropbox, Compello, Spindle and BACS, clients find out we can do a lot more and start demanding more. 

They want us to be their complete accounts department, cheaper and better than their traditional model of hiring a bookkeeper.

In the meantime we have renamed Management Accounts as the Business Services department and created a Payroll department, to acknowledge the wider range of services. We have customised our practice management (PM) software to control everything, emailing reports to directors and managers automatically using an Orbis engine built onto our SQL PM database using Crystal to design the reports (they don't include this stuff in your Chartered Accountant final exams)

But now we have to split out a new department known as VAO - Virtual Accounts Office, because some of the Business services team spend time out at clients preparing management accounts and the VAO service demands staff being 100% available in the office taking calls from clients and their customers and suppliers on dedicated direct dial phone lines for each client.

So now we have a new department with three teams, new titles such as VAO team leader and are looking for more staff to keep up with the demand.

We do things like download sales data from client websites, create and email purchase orders to suppliers, pay bills by BACS, create and send invoices to customers, send statements out, do credit control, reconcile bank transactions daily and put some accounts together along the way to show clients how they are doing.

I reckon some of them are just sitting on a beach somewhere looking at our reports on their iPad.

it may have been easier in the old days but I must admit its more fun now.

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