As a huge advocate of the Xero software and cloud accounting, widely respected UK chartered accountant Alistair Hayward Wright underlines why working in the cloud could give field service businesses and the self-employed a big advantage during and after the crippling COVID-19 crisis.
Working in ‘the cloud’ is a term first introduced to the commercial world in 2006 by then Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. Almost 15 years on and it has changed forever how we work and provided flexibility and data security like never before. Cloud-based solutions have simplified both our personal and our professional lives. And in today’s uncertain climate, that is nothing but a positive.
At Hayward Wright, we have been using the Xero software for a number of years and I am proud to have seen so many clients prosper after making the transition and transforming their financial reporting. It has given them up-to-date and accurate information to help their planning, provided them with the ability to automatically chase outstanding invoices and use live financial data to track cash flow at any minute of the day. These are the kinds of benefits which many field service businesses have seen.
The Xero system has been a game changer for all types of field service businesses. With some add-on applications, it can allow plumbers, electricians, security, fire and facilities management companies to focus their efforts working on the business rather than in the business. Using job management software like simPRO assists field service businesses with planning, tracking engineers out on the road and generating accurate stock updates on supplies and materials. Some field service businesses are also integrating Xero with their CRM system or pulling customer information from simPRO so all customer information is available in one place. Some are also smartly integrating with their CRM systems so customer information is available in one business package.
The data security which cloud accounting can offer is also second to none and now gives people the peace of mind they need – with many overcoming the sceptical view of a few years ago that data outside of local networks is not secure. A password-controlled cloud system is probably the safest of them all.
Stepping away from the general business and security benefits, cloud accounting has also helped me. More than anything, it has given me the opportunity to have regular and meaningful conversations with my trade business clients. We can work off real-time data, interrogate quickly where problems are and identify where efficiencies can be made. That can all be done online which removes the need for travelling for shorter face-to-face meetings. So, it’s been a game changer for us too.
At the time, when we were all unsure of when full lockdown measures would be lifted, and when office staff were working from home, cloud accounting really came into its own and offered greater visibility and control for the future.
In the weeks following the introduction of lockdown measures, it has been incredibly important for people to access their files and systems as we all adjusted to a new way of working. It has certainly not been easy for any of us, myself included, but having the comfort that systems are reliable and accessible has helped millions of people, especially trade businesses, cope with what is an unprecedented situation.