Once a swirling black hole of time and energy for the nation’s SMEs, the end of the financial year has been reduced to a far more manageable milestone by the expanding use of technology.
Although many operators will still face sacrificing at least some of their leisure and family time to meet their compliance requirements, the good news for local SMEs is this year around half of all local small business people will manage the reporting season with minimal additional effort.
This is thanks in no small part to the growing use of business and accounting technology, and the increasing collaboration it allows with accountants.
According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey, 10 per cent of SMEs moved this year from a desktop to an online accounting software package in order to reduce the time it takes to get their business ready for the end of the financial year.
The take-up of cloud technology – accounting for over two thirds of new product registrations for MYOB last year – has marked a significant shift in the approach of many businesses.
Rather than seeing the end of the financial year as a major reporting hurdle, it is now more a matter of compiling easy-to-access data from a constant flow of business intelligence provided by smart systems.
With the evolution of accounting software, businesses now have information available on a real-time basis. This means no longer waiting until the end of the month or even end of the financial year to see how the operation has tracked against goals and targets.
This constant – and empowering – feedback cycle, has helped more businesses shift from an ‘as required’ approach to reporting, to regular and largely automated data management.
In particular, the increasing use of secure and accurate bankfeeds has made a major difference to the reporting period.
By matching bank transactions with sales, expenses and payments, accounts are kept constantly updated, while businesses are largely freed from manual data entry and the attendant potential for inaccuracy.
At the same time, the available technology is helping shift the relationship between the accountant and their SME client.
For many businesses, the end of the financial year was the only time they saw their accountant, when they visited their office to deliver anything from a USB stick of accounts to a shoebox stuffed with receipts.
Now, accountants or bookkeepers and their clients can collaborate on a single set of accounts online, and in real time.
This provides many more opportunities for any issues to be addressed as they arise, ensuring accounts can be downloaded in good shape and in a timely fashion at the end of the financial year.
With the advent of online accounting software designed to make technical compliance much easier, SMEs can use the time gained from increased productivity to work with their accountant on planning for the coming year.
And ultimately, those hours saved – and focused on greater business success – can make a major difference not only to individual SMEs but to the wider economy as a whole.
By Scott Gardiner - Sales Manager, MYOB New Zealand