- Developments now happen so quickly that it’s worth regularly checking in on new software and technology solutions.
- An issue that was a problem just six months ago, and a barrier to using new software, may well have been solved.
- Legislative and regulatory changes, such as Single Touch Payroll, are an opportunity to update technology and processes.
QuickBooks advertising feature
Way back in the 1960s, Moore’s Law predicted that processing power would double every two years. Today, technological innovation accelerates at a similar rate of knots. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, conversational UIs [user interfaces] and machine learning – to name just a few ‘recent’ developments – show how innovators are harnessing this increased processing power. They are bringing to life ideas that once were limited to works of science fiction.
Of course, accounting practices exist on a spectrum. They range from progressive practices that see adopting new technologies as giving them a competitive advantage and helping future-proof their practice, to the more risk averse who take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to tech evolution.
Those who are slower to adopt new technology do so for perfectly valid reasons. They may have security concerns about moving from on-premise solutions to the cloud, concerns about downtime due to internet outages, and worries about the added load on employees who need to upskill to keep up to date with new software. There is also the time and costs associated with system changes.
As Stuart Spalding CA states in his The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the Australian Accounting Profession report: “This lag is typically caused by a combination of factors within a firm, some of which can be summarised as:
- No investment in training and awareness in how to fully utilise new technology;
- Absence of appropriate reviews as to the suitability of existing processes to work in harmony with the new technology; and
- Negative mindset towards the urgency for change at all levels in the firm.”
‘Kicking the tyres’ of innovative technology
However, with innovation moving at such a fast pace, what might have been a barrier to adoption six months ago, may no longer be an issue. That’s why, irrespective of where you see yourself on the spectrum, ‘kicking the tyres’ of new solutions may result in some unexpected ‘aha’ moments.
Software that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automation and APIs [application program interfaces] is reinventing modern accounting. With it comes a huge potential to improve processes, reduce the need for time-consuming manual data entry, better utilise time and complete tasks more quickly and accurately. Technology is fast helping ‘tune up’ modern accounting practices and is driving efficiencies that only a decade or two ago seemingly existed only in the realms of science fiction.
A case in point is the launch in Australia of QuickBooks Tax powered by LodgeiT. QuickBooks now has another turnkey example of a product that leverages AI, machine learning and clever automation facilitated by APIs, to help remove inefficiencies and eliminate frictions within the tax prep, review and lodgement process.
Even if you are content with your existing tax solution, it may pay to have a peek under the hood to see how QuickBooks is innovating in partnership with LodgeiT to give Australian advisers a seamless, end-to-end tax compliance experience.
The opportunities of Single Touch Payroll solutions
In addition, there are other developments that could (and probably should) trigger reconsideration of cloud-based solutions such as QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Online Accountant. That includes, for example, legislative and regulatory changes from government and the Australian Taxation Office.
One such legislative development is the launch of Single Touch Payroll (STP) compliance. Billed as the biggest change for small business since the introduction of GST, it is easy to look at STP as an additional administration burden requiring some serious time and energy investment. How do you convince your clients, who have been doing something the same way for years, to embrace change and move with the times?
”How do you convince your clients, who have been doing something the same way for years, to embrace change and move with the times?”
To answer that question, perhaps the most important consideration is that of perspective. Head on, STP might seem like an unnecessary layer of administration that creates more work for advisers and clients alike.
But viewed from a different angle, it looks more like opportunity knocking. In this case, complying with STP regulation is the perfect impetus to introduce the benefits that a cloud solution with integrated payroll can provide your less progressive clients, with the added benefit of helping drive digital transformation for your practice in the process.
There is no doubt there will be more developments around the corner.
Irrespective of whether you are an early adopter or feel more comfortable being part of the ‘wait-and-see’ majority, taking out your proverbial boots and doing some tyre kicking of new technologies on a regular basis will always be time well spent, and could benefit both your practice and your clients.