Ask the Experts

PwC Partner Scott McLiver РJanuary 2016

I am using a cloud accounting package but a friend of mine has mentioned there are great apps which plug into these accounting packages and are really helpful. What are apps when talking about accounting systems?

The amazing features that come with having a cloud accounting package (for example Xero, MYOB Live or Quickbooks Online) are just the tip of the iceberg.

Once the core accounting information has been processed, third party applications, or ‘apps’ or ‘add-ons’, open up a new world of possibilities thanks to open application programming interface (APIs).

APIs allow your cloud accounting package to send and retrieve information to and from other cloud apps.

The ability to share processed information within a cloud accounting package means that cloud apps can be designed specifically to be more helpful with managing specific areas of a business.

The following are some core apps that your business may find useful which I encourage you to explore:

– Payables and expense apps automate the processing of business invoices into your accounting package.

You’re now able to take a picture on your smartphone, forward an email or scan expense receipts and invoices and then log into your accounting package to see a draft expense payable awaiting your approval.

– Expense apps take key information from receipts such as date, supplier name, amount and GST treatment and will automatically enter the data to create the transaction for your approval.

– Receivable apps facilitate faster collection of outstanding debtors, which in turn improve cash flow for your business.

By integrating with your accounting package and extracting information stored in the aged debtors listing, receivables apps can prepare comprehensive payment reminder emails or text messages to be sent to customers.

Custom templates can be created and will remind customers of any outstanding debt due with invoice details and an attached customer statement.

Receivable apps are now beginning to collaborate with debt collection agents to integrate automatic application for debt collection with a press of a button.

– Forecasting apps extract your reconciled general ledger information and automatically create financial forecasts on the fly.

There is no need for maintaining messy spreadsheets that require significant time to update and check for accuracy.

All you need to do is sync the app with the latest reconciled data from your accounting package and enter key financial assumptions to alter your financial projections.

Forecasts models that used to take several hours or required significant costs to build can now be prepared in a couple of hours.

In addition to these basic apps there are other cloud apps to help businesses work smarter such as inventory management, timesheet entry, payroll, business analytics, job costing, workflow allocation and many others.

Cloud apps are even being developed with industry specific features for businesses involved in transport, professional services, construction, automotive, property, retail and many others.

Just as users of smartphones use apps to help manage their lifestyle, cloud accounting apps help manage the many different aspects of a running a successful business from simple receivables and payables to complicated forecasting, inventory and job management, increasing automation and giving you more control of running your business.

So if you’re not already using apps, I would recommend you should try them to unleash the full power of your accounting package.

As published by Fairfax in December 2015.

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