The professional bookkeeping industry is currently changing very rapidly. Data entry is being replaced by automated technology, such as online invoicing, bank feeds, smart phones, document scanning and the automatic categorization of receipts.
The hourly billing practices of the past are now being challenged in favour of value-added pricing models, and here in Canada, professional bookkeeper standards and continuous professional development are being implemented by The Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (see www.ipbc.ca) .
It is indeed an exciting time, and one that all professional bookkeepers should acknowledge and embrace. With the current deployment of internet enabled software, which can save data entry time, we can redirect the time that is saved to value-added bookkeeping services for our clients.
Think about it, – we have been here before.
In the early 90’s, I remember a billboard advertisement “Mind Your Own Business” and many bookkeepers in Canada will remember a software name change from “Bedford” to “Simply Accounting”. QuickBooks also advertised their software as built for the small business owner. All were affordable, user-friendly, desktop accounting programs for small businesses. These software packages impartially stated that they saved you time; that you did not need to understand Debits or Credits; and that with one push of a button you could produce your own financial statements.
Well, those changes have resulted in Bookkeepers being closer to their clients’ businesses more today than ever before. Desktop software did not take business away from professional bookkeepers – in fact, it secured our positions with small business owners. Our roles became wider and more innate, and we are now a trusted advisor working in the day-to-day operations alongside our customers.
We embraced the desktop software options and learned them all. We began to offer needs analyses and help move businesses into the right software solutions for their specific processes. We became experts in setting up the desktop software and providing onsite training.
Desktop software elevated our roles. The software has never been who we are, but it is what helps us do what we do – nothing more, nothing less. How the software delivers what it does has changed, but not the core functions, – nor what we deliver to our business clients today.
With all the advances there have been in medicine, are Doctors worried about their positions? The current and upcoming generations of various software options has led to greater marketing of the various solutions, making business people and bookkeepers reconsider what they have been providing and how they have been delivering those services. This evolution helps remind us to see the real value that we provide to our clients.
Is it our professional goal just to post receipts? Or is it the value-added insight we provide, helping them make informed business decisions and growing their businesses with accurate up-to-date information?
The cloud does not magically assume all of our knowledge around accounting principles and best bookkeeping practices just because we can now drag and drop expenses in an online environment.
It is just another filing cabinet, albeit online. It does not come with a financial background or bookkeeping knowledge and skills. Compliance, processing and appropriate record keeping are not built into the cloud, no more than they were built into our previous desktop applications.
Using internet software does not mean that businesses will no longer need to collect money, work with suppliers, engage with and pay their staff, or prepare business records for tax accountants. We will always be required to rectify and re-class posting mistakes and submit sales tax. It is the Canadian Bookkeeper that can best manage the day-to-day cash flow of start-ups.
What new revenue streams have opened up with this technology change? For one, managing and tracking our client’s on-line security as well as password monitoring. Another is to help our clients with implementation of cloud-based products. We can provide more value through increased automation and tighter integration between various add-on systems. Also, we can assist in improving corporate culture by moving companies into a paperless – and more environmentally conscious – corporate citizenship model.
Cloud-based software provides the opportunity for bookkeepers to offer a higher priced value with real-time faster service. New opportunities can be acted on right away and necessary changes made immediately to the bookkeeping system, no longer waiting until the next visit. Bookkeepers are no longer restricted to the geographical location of where they or their customers reside. We will share real time data, allowing us to work even more as a team.
Moving out of Isolation
As the saying goes, “No man is an island”. Professional business people do not thrive when they are isolated from colleagues. Regular interaction leads to learning, personal growth and career progression. Bookkeepers are often isolated and struggle with keeping abreast of technology and professional changes. This, too, has changed with a solution that provides more interaction with others in your profession thru a specialized association.
HERE FOR YOU
The Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC) www.ipbc.ca was created by bookkeepers to help the bookkeeping profession become more successful and gain better recognition within the accounting and financial industry. IPBC provides resources its members need to develop excellence in bookkeeping through certification, continuous professional development, education, networking, advocacy, information and research. An annual IPBC book keeper’s conference is held yearly for a face-to-face pier interaction learning experience.
IPBC is Canada’s largest non-profit bookkeeping association. “The Bookkeeper’s Advocate tm” delivers value to its members, who see every dollar they pay in dues as an investment in their own – and every – bookkeeper’s future. It is when a profession unites and collaborates that their voice will be heard, making a stronger profession.
The history of bookkeeping starts sometime around 4000 B.C. At that time, the established way of keeping track of business or transactions was done with tokens instead of written forms.
Business has come a long way since the earliest history of bookkeeping and those days of tokens being used. An appreciation of the history of bookkeeping can give reassurance that the underlying skills are fundamentally unchanged since the creation of double entry bookkeeping in the 1400′s, but there are special and extensive learning’s required to cope with today’s business models.
The bookkeeping industry with professional bookkeepers along with bookkeeping associations like IPBC will never become “redundant”! So I say embrace the changing world of bookkeeping and continue to do what bookkeepers have done forever – help small business flourish!
Dianne Mueller, CPB- Certified Professional Bookkeeper is the owner of Soma Small Business Solutions in North Vancouver, BC Canada. Dianne is a passionate, proud Canadian Bookkeeper and the co-founder and current Chair of Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada (IPBC) www.ipbc.ca