Tomorrow I head off on a two month holiday to Alaska, Canadian Rockies and east coast USA. Whilst two months does seem like an extravagance, one of the benefits of cloud accounting is the anywhere, anytime, any device concept which means that I can continue to stay in touch and assist clients if necessary and I don’t need to work around the huge time difference. However an additional benefit that has been delivered to accountants is the consolidated accountant’s view of client data. Prior to cloud accounting, having an up to the minute single-page view of the status of all clients just wasn’t an option. Accountants made the best of working on historical data as and when the client provided and gave assistance as best they could within those limitations.
This all changed once businesses started to adopt cloud options for their accounting solutions. Their accounts became available anytime, anywhere and the introduction of bank feeds meant they were always up to date. It became more relevant for accountants to access and review their client’s accounts on an ongoing basis and thus the new requirement for an integrated view of client accounts was recognised and delivered by the software suppliers; and this will certainly make my life easier while I am travelling.
Xero has long provided and enhanced ‘My Xero’, the dashboard for accountants to access their client files. Intuit for a while had a fairly rudimentary accountants view and recently rolled out the full blown QuickBooks Online Accountant which provides a plethora of helpful features for accountants. So this last post before I head off is a brief comparison of the two products. They have many different features but both will help me quickly and efficiently look after my clients while I am away.
The basic requirement of a consolidated accountants view or dashboard is to have a list of all clients and be able to move quickly and efficiently between with one or two clicks but it is the extra bells and whistles that differentiate the products.
My Xero has the following features on the accountants dashboard:
- Ability to create Groups of Clients and access from the group
- Ability to ‘star’ nominated clients and again go straight to all starred client
- Displays the number of unreconciled transactions in the client file
- Show who last accessed the file and when
Once I am in a client’s file and want to go into another, I can directly access any of the last five that I have previously accessed via a drop down option otherwise I need to go back to the My Xero screen
QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) has some different features:
- Although I cannot ‘Star’ or Group client files I can sort the client list by any of the column headings to assist fast access.
- The accountants dashboard displays when the last banking download happened or if it failed.
- I can go directly from the accountants dashboard either to the client’s file or to a client dashboard where I can see additional data including when each individual account was reconciled, client document requests etc.
- Once I am in one client’s file, I can move directly to any other client file from a drop down list.
- I can send requests to clients from the accountants dashboard.
- I now have access to the Document Sharing and Collaboration functionality provided by Box.
- I can also create a Client or User from the accountants dashboard.
There is a wealth of functionality now in QBOA and it has truly become a tool that delivers a lot of efficiencies for the accountant both for reviewing data and managing clients – I will definitely be maximising this potential while I am away.
Just in passing, I find accountants and bookkeepers have often become so used to the benefits of cloud accounting that they quickly forget some of the pain associated with desk top products. One of the enormous benefits of cloud accounting is that no annual or bi-annual updates need to be installed; clients are always on the latest version and always have the current tax tables for processing payroll. Every year in July I am doubly thankful for this and for sure this year with the huge pressure of completing all year end work before the deadline of my flight this has been a huge relief.
So with my trusty Microsoft RT in my bag, I am ready to depart the cold Sydney winter for warm(?) Alaska skies, knowing that I can look after my clients (apart from those on Reckon Accounts and MYOB Account Right that is). And looking forward to seeing what developments there may be in cloud accounting software in the next two months.