Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere, and it is rapidly changing the very nature of many businesses and jobs across the globe. While the transition from manual to automation may sound like a daunting hurdle to cross, it is generally accepted enthusiastically as it opens a whole new range of opportunities for business growth and services offered.
Within the accounting profession, businesses can no longer just sit idly by wondering whether to jump on the AI bandwagon. It has become a necessity if companies want to stay relevant and keep up with competitors. In our August blog ‘Why should accountants embrace digital transformation?’, we discussed the results analysed in a study by Sage for its Practice of Now research report. Of the 3000 accountants who were interviewed, 55% plan to make use of AI within the next three years and 53% have already adopted cloud-based practice management.
Switching to AI is one thing, but the effectiveness of the software really depends on the manner in how it is used. Not fully understanding the program you’ve signed on for can lead to complications, major confusions, and inefficient use of the services that you are paying for. We’ve listed out the top three mistakes new AI users tend to make when switching to a cloud-based software. If you’ve got plans to transition, or if you’ve already halfway through the crossover, then this article will be useful in the process with minimal to (hopefully) zero hiccups along the way.
MISTAKE #1 – Not trusting the software
You’ve been running your business for years, so we don’t doubt you know what works. However, because of one’s familiarity with the usual system, it often becomes difficult trusting someone else to run the show on your behalf. Some continue with paper records while also using the cloud, doing double the work. This could lead to some serious discrepancy in records with many costs unaccounted for, damaging to your clients and business in the long run.
A survey by Cleardata shows 66% of businesses in the UK are at risk due to mismanagement of paper documents and unorganised filing. The study reveals that some businesses require an average of 5 to 6 working days to retrieve documents, while others require a week or more.
As with everything new, it will take a while to adjust to the new system. Give yourself and your employees ample of time to familiarise with the program and tighten any loose ends before going live.
MISTAKE #2 – Not having the appropriate backup strategy
Perhaps the one that’s most crucial but often overlooked is backing up your data. If the nature of your business relies heavily on the data stored on the cloud, back it up as often as you can. Thankfully, systems and apps these days are set up to run a scheduled auto-backup every few days. However so, it is important that the software you employ not only meets the expectations of your business, but also the backup facilities its able to provide.
Here are some ways that you could potentially lose your data:
- A random server failure rendering your data unrecoverable
- Stolen computer or laptop from a break-in
- Overwrite or accidental deletion of data (or deliberately deleted by a disgruntled employee)
- Virus, malware, or ransomware
- System hack-in
With clients’ information constantly being updated, it is wise to have an action plan handy if the unsuspected were to happen. Unfortunately, no system can promise complete protection against any of the above, so it is up to you to ensure a backup file is created and stored safely on the cloud, locally, or using an online backup service.
MISTAKE #3 – Using multiple accounting platforms at once
There could be more than one system that will match the needs of your business. Some businesses are even subscribed to three software at once to compensate for the functions lacking in others. The downside is that the more platforms you are on, the more costly it gets, and the less efficient your day-to-day operations are. Unless these programs are from the same supplier, they are unlikely to communicate and sync with one another. You would then need to engage the support teams for each individual system, and your staff will have to split their focus between the programs instead of mastering just one.
You might be thinking that your business has been working off several platforms for years now, and your clients are comfortable with the system. You could be worried that making the switch might just cause them to leave. According to accountants who have gone through this process, the best method to deal with this is to know your clients as well as possible.
In an article by Xero, accountants and bookkeepers are seen as the most trustworthy financial professionals of all, and as long as you assure your clients that the cloud is a system your business trusts, most of them will be happy to go along with the transition. For those who need a little more persuasion, you can always offer them a trial run of the system and support them through it until they are confident on their own.
FlexiFund It is a cloud-based fund collection software that will provide your clients with flexible payment options while securing the full payment for your professional services. The software automates your entire funding and payment process, allowing you to control more transactions in less time and with less effort.
If switching to a cloud-based system is something you’d like to do for your business, get in touch with us and learn more about our easy-to-use solution developed to serve accountants and accounting practices.