At the recent Reckon Conference in Sydney we caught up with Dyean Moodley, advisor to PwC’s Private Clients business, to get her thoughts on cloud accounting and to share some advice on how she chooses the right technology solutions for her clients.

Dyean won an Apple watch with her answer to our conference competition question: What has been the biggest acheivement in your business journey so far?

The landscape in Australia offers a number of cloud accounting solutions. How do you choose the solution that’s best for your clients?

It takes me back to when I migrated to Australia some 14 years ago. On my first visit to the supermarket, I remember standing in the bread aisle, looking at the number or choices available and thinking, what would be best for my family…Sandwich or Toast, White or Wholemeal?

Accountants find themselves in a similar position today and our clients are privileged in that they are spoilt for choice. This poses as incredible opportunity for accountants and as Reckon Managing Director Sam Allert said at the Accountants Technology Showcase Australia 2015 (ATSA) “This is the greatest time to be an accountant”.

There are a number of cloud based software solutions in the Australian market and it is up to the accountant as the trusted business advisor to suggest which solutions would be most appropriate for their client. With choice comes the requirement for the accountant of today to be product agnostic, something that aligns with our strategy at PwC’s Private Clients.

As I did all those years ago and continue to do with my family today, we need to consider what solution would best suit the purpose for which it is needed by the client. In the case of my family, was the bread to be sliced for sandwiches, rolls or the thickness of toast? Every client is different, with different needs so the accounting product needs to satisfy that need in order for the client to have a good experience.

So, how do you assist your clients in determining what solution suits them?

Having a good knowledge of your client’s current workflows is a good place to start. Determine what the pain points are in their current systems and how these can best be addressed. Consider their legacy systems and how adaptable they are to change. Identify opportunities for business process improvement through automation and consider whether data feeds are available to reduce manual data entry.

Once you have this synopsis of the client’s situation, it’s a good foundational start to determine the general ledger that would be core to the eco-system build. Next step is to unpack the various processes around the GL and consider the various tools and which would be appropriate for their need.

PwC’s Private Clients works with a large spectrum of clients from fast growing start-ups to established intergenerational businesses so having access to online accounting systems that can best support these clients is essential.

There as so many accounting solutions out there, how do you keep up to date?

It is a huge investment on the part of PwC’s Private Clients business to be product agnostic and remaining relevant to our clients and their needs is core. As you would have seen from my Twitter activity, I have been attending all the major vendor conferences in recent times looking at the roadmaps of the vendors but also paying attention to the exhibitors.

Typically, a requirement from a segment of our business or a client need would drive contact with a vendor.

I would organise a demonstration of the product or get one of my team members to sign up for a free trial. Most SAAS based models cater for a 30 day free trial and this allows us to test and learn the functionality of the product. Next step would be to conduct a due diligence around the product – number of users, length in business, storage of data and review of customer testimonials and experience are a few things I consider.

I also use social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up to date as well as build advocacy and knowledge throughout the business.

So, you were recently at the ATSA 2015, what was your greatest take away?

I am thrilled to see the innovation by and commitment from the various vendors to improving their products with a big emphasis on development of open APIs. APIs allow for cloud integration and being able to collaborate with our clients in real time and seeing this eco-system build out over the next year excites me.