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How to effectively respond to future COVID-19 outbreak?

Author: Harry Hoang

During the COVID-19 restrictions, I believe micromanagement at work is ineffective because it involves spending a lot of time and effort while receiving few gains. This reminded me of my early days as a bookkeeper when my manager would get us to enter every single piece of information from the invoices into our accounting system manually. The desktop-based accounts system did not allow for remote access, making it impossible for users to log on if they chose to work from home. This tedious and time-consuming experience made me wonder how such organisations could survive the COVID-19 crisis when all office rules and regulations were suddenly disrupted. 

Businesses can now afford to let their accounting and finance staff work from home as a result of the technology advancement of online cloud-based accounting system products. Most business owners considered these products as a good return on investments (ROIs) since accountants or bookkeepers can easily access the daily accounts and deliver their work whilst their workplaces remain closed. 

Additionally, most bookkeepers prefer using cloud-based accounting systems such as QuickBooks or Xero as they provide benefits including the ability to share and collaborate with ease. The old desktop approach gave employees limited access to accounts, making collaboration with colleagues and advisers difficult. 

In the last four years, with the onset of cloud technology which has automated data entry and basic bookkeeping, moving to online accounting systems has proven to be a good investment for business owners. One example is the development of Receipt Bank to scan and analyse bills and receipts, meaning bookkeepers do not have to spend 15 minutes or more entering detailed information manually from paper into a computer. 

Customers are also able to see a copy of each receipt when it is attached to transactions in accounting systems like Xero or Intuit QuickBooks Online. This allows businesses to save at least $100 per month on database storage management. Another advantage of cloud accounting is that it gives business owners, employees and customers real-time access. My clients can access receipts from the past three years of car insurance payments with one click while negotiating with their insurers, enabling them to make informed decisions on the spot.

Now we must have a contingency plan to mitigate the risks of business disruptions. The COVID-19 has permanently changed the way businesses and companies operate. Create a simple business plan that covers the following key areas:

  • Online timesheet and rostering plan for your staff 
  • Accounting plan for online sales (if you must close your premise)
  • Communication plan with clients

Micromanagement of finances is becoming outdated and less popular, and business owners should expect their bookkeepers to use cloud technology to ensure that bookkeeping is done effectively and efficiently. The “new normal” post-COVID-19 restrictions are likely to stay for at least another year. Reducing your costs with cloud-based accounting systems is a good choice, allowing you to protect the health and well-being of your staff. 

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