Adding new power to your cloud accounting solution

Accounting in the cloud has become more and more commonplace. But few people know just how much extra functionality you can build into a cloud based accounting package, argues Emma Woods.

In the past few years, there’s been a significant shift towards cloud-based accounting, with a number of accountancy firms demonstrating the benefits to their clients. There are many advantages, of course, in terms of efficiency and with HMRC pushing ahead with its ‘Making Tax Digital’ agenda, many more businesses will inevitably be required to get on board soon to meet their obligations.

Xero has been the package that most people have been talking about over the past few years however Quickbooks Online are making a big push now in the UK.  Xero and Quickbooks are very good at the essential back-end book-keeping but another advantage is the large number of software add-ons that are available to integrate with these packages. At the moment, there are between five and six hundred add-ons offering different types of functionality.

So what kind of add-ons might you choose? Well, it really depends on the type of business you’re in. Those in the retail or hospitality trade could benefit from Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) tills which can feed data directly into Xero or Quickbooks. Let’s imagine you’re a hotel, for instance. You can easily compare wet sales against food sales or how one bar is performing against another, as well as keeping control of your bar stock and ensuring that it’s always replenished efficiently.

Dental practices could benefit from a patient appointment booking system which automatically creates the fee for the patient once the work has been completed and sends the data straight into Xero or Quickbooks.

There are also job management add-ons to allow employees to input their timesheets, record materials spent on a job, along with performing a whole host of useful functions that can really add value to your business.

Whilst choice is a great thing, picking your way through all the different add-ons can be a real headache. The online reviews of the add-ons can be a good starting point to narrow down the selection. Most accountants and professional advisers can’t afford the luxury of constant experimentation so finding an accountant who has relationships with the add-on software developers is key.