How automated can your accounting records be?

Writing up the books and records of any business can be a
chore for some. A few choose not to write up anything at all and are still at
the carrier bag or shoebox stage.  For
others, such as bookkeepers, it provides a living. Are there any that really
“love” writing up their accounts, chasing in the debts etc?

The computerised accounts packages have over the years added
features to make it easier to raise invoices; the ability to type a short
product code or part of a code, select the correct item and have the full
description entered onto the invoice is just one simple example. However the
invoice still needed printing to paper and putting in the post – both a costly
and time consuming exercise. The ability to print to PDF and email the file
took away the postage costs from the equation – but still did not prevent the
recipient from deleting it (either on purpose or inadvertently) or claiming not
to have received it.

The invoice still needed making paid in the accounting
system when the funds were received into the bank.

So how automated can we make our systems now and is this
scenario below ultimate in writing up the books…..?

In many businesses, the model is for monthly regular
invoices. This may be for subscriptions, services provided on a quarterly/monthly
basis etc. It may be the accountant on a fixed fee agreement and invoicing on a
regular basis.

It is possible to set these up as recurring transactions
which are produced on the same date every month. It can be set so that approval
is required before sending but equally it can be set so that the invoice is
automatically generated and emailed out to the recipient. This will
automatically be posted to the sales ledger. The recipient clicks on a link to
view or download the actual invoice. If the recipient is using the same
accounting software it can appear as an invoice for approval in his purchase
ledger with the amounts etc already entered leaving him just to allocate to the
appropriate code.

The accounting software can be linked to an add-on which
provides direct debit facilities. The direct debit software can be set to
interrogate the accounting software debtors list on a daily basis, identify
those debtors where there is a direct debit in place and automatically collect
the funds form that debtor on the due date. It then takes it a stage further
and posts the receipt against the debtor on the sales ledger and the charge for
this service to bank charges.

The cash collected is shown as a “bank balance” in the
accounting software. When these funds hit the main business bank account there
is one click to confirm it as a transfer from the direct debit bank account to
the main bank account. The entry in the main bank account appears there from an
automated bank feed.

That is it – no manual intervention until the very last
stage and then just one click. The accounts are all up to date, the bank is
reconciled, debtors are under control – just set it up and forget about
it. 

We have clients already doing this ….! When I described this
at a recent presentation I was asked if it were possible for the software to actually
do all the work that was being billed for as well! I think that is a stage too
far…..

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