Excel has had its day. A wonderful and powerful tool to those who unlocked its dark and mysterious powers. An unholy source of frustration to those who hadn’t. Never the less, when it comes to accounting and business running, it seriously needs to be ditched for something that is actually fit for purpose. If your clients are still languishing on spreadsheets and are yet to join the future, what can you do? As an adviser, bookkeeper or accountant you already know the benefits of getting business owners onto online accounting technology – so how do you convince those who are reticent?

Single Touch Payroll will necessitate the move

If your clients are paying staff, this reason to move off Excel will be a no brainer. As you know STP will require the use of online accounting software for submitting payroll information. Whilst smaller businesses under 19 employees are not yet affected – next year they should be. Remind your clients that from the 1st of July 2019 the scope of STP will grow to include smaller businesses such as them so they might as well make the switch before getting forced to. This is still pending current legislation but all signs point to imminent implementation. If your clients will need to submit payroll digitally – they might as well move the whole lot over from Excel in one go.

They are missing the big picture and jeopardising their business

Sure your clients can create pie charts from their Excel data, but who actually does? Ask your client if they can tell you, right now, who owes them money and how much? Ask them if they can tell you immediately what their cashflow is? If they are on Excel they will have no idea. If you want them to see the big picture, hours sifting through and analysing data manually is the only way to hopefully pinpoint red flags. Using accounting software, it’s all done for them:

  • See their cashflow in real-time with dashboard charts.
  • See who owes them overdue invoices instantly.
  • Monitor the reports that matter to you most.

They are wasting serious time

Excel is not fit for purpose – it is a static un-automated dinosaur of a tool that wastes serious time and is incredibly error prone due to manual input requirements. Convince your clients, many of whom find Excel ‘easy’, that they are mowing their lawn with a pair of scissors. They are  missing out on data feeds, back-ups to the cloud and syncs with other business apps. Excel doesn’t even come close to online accounting software in terms of speed, accuracy and automation. Furthermore, to help convince them your clients should understand the pitfalls of Excel version control vs the ability to simply give you (as an adviser) access to the necessary data in the software to do your job. They don’t have to do anything.

They are creating errors and silos

Your client probably has a sheet for payroll, a sheet for collections and another for expenses for example. Wow, that’s just the basics and it is already complex. These sheets do not speak to one another, each must be maintained manually within its silo and the data will never be fed to relevant places nor updated automatically nor show them connections that would be otherwise invisible.

They need to know that with accounting software, they can synchronise and integrate data feeds and reports. For example, your client can feed their bank statement data directly into their accounting software which will update expense reports with your latest outgoings automatically. Outline to them how they will be able to invoice their clients directly from their timesheet without the need to manually cross-check a tangled host of spreadsheet data.

When it comes down to it, compliance, automation, accuracy, synchronisation of reports and ease of adviser access should be enough to convince the hardiest of Excel stalwarts to move to purpose built online accounting software. If not? Well as tax becomes digital, the time will soon come when the decision is unavoidable.