I found some good advice for accountants looking to make the transition to digital the other day. It’s from Damon Anderson, the affable director, partner at Xero. And it comes complete with a heavy nudge to get your act together (if you haven’t already)!
Damon says: “MTD will put many practices under pressure when it comes into effect for all VAT registered companies in April 2019. For those who haven’t started the transition, there are only nine months to go until the deadline.
“Moving hundreds of VAT clients to online software in under a year is an enormous task that requires a solid action plan.
“To ensure a successful MTD transition, getting your team ready is vital. With some careful planning and communication, it’s not too late to support your clients through their transition to online ahead of HMRC’s April deadline.” Here are four ways you can get your team and your practice in shape.
Damon has highlighted for ways to get your team and practice ready to go:
- Scope: Identify VAT clients so your team know how much work awaits them. “At Xero. We think you’ll need to allocate three hours per client when converting data from desktop software to cloud. You’ll then need to think about who’ll be responsible for onboarding and training clients, as well as providing them with ongoing support. It’s important that you consider how this process will affect your team’s current responsibilities and working practices.”
- Involve your team from the start: “Introducing new technology into a business is often a challenge. Change can be hard for some employees who are more comfortable doing business ‘the way it’s always been done’. Staff reluctance is nothing unusual – but it does need to be preempted so as not to delay implementation. Your team is your biggest asset in this process, so help them understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Communication is vital from the get-go. Guide your team through your thought process – a back-story and some context can be helpful for your team to understand the reasons behind the transition.
- Support: “Once they know the why and the what, they’ll want to hear the how. Provide a realistic view of how the transition will be made and how it’ll impact people’s current roles. The good news is that how your team currently operates will not change dramatically. But, how they actually do their job will change – make that distinction clear. For example, in many firms, client managers don’t go near the ledger. Typically, that’s the responsibility of associates. Xero doesn’t change that, but it does streamline the flow between these two roles. Associates focus on keeping the data clean and up to date, while your client managers interpret that data for client communication. It’s a bit different than before, but ultimately the job of each employee hasn’t changed.”
- On board: “There are two key concepts to consider when getting your team on board. The first is transparency and communication – which we’ve discussed above. The second is showcasing the benefits of the new technology for both the business and your employees. Your team will get on-board faster if they can see how the new software enhances their day-to-day work.”
For example it’s likely your team will be able to access client or practice information any time, any where, across any device.
Damon adds: “It also takes care of a lot of manual work, which frees up your team to focus on existing clients or new business. Essentially, staff can do more in less time which is a major boost for productivity.
“Managing change is about making sure your people are OK at every step of the way. Preparing your business for MTD is no different. Communication, transparency and an ability to deal with issues effectively as they arise are key.
“And with Xero on-side, you’ll have access to our partner program which provides a wealth of resources and support. There really is no time to delay, get your practice – and people – ready for MTD today.
More info can be found at Xero Central.
So why the picture of a Tesla electric car? Well, tax expert and lecturer Rebecca Benneyworth has put her money where her mouth is. Or rather was. At her Accountex keynote in May, Rebecca said that she had been so taken by the Tesla on show at ExCeL that she was seriously considering leasing one. Well she’s only gone and done it!
Incidentally, as well as amazing environmentally-sound performance, technology and design, the Tesla comes with the kind of financial benefits that would appeal to most accountants:
- 100 per cent first year allowance for business owners.
- UK plug-in car grant of £4,500.
- Reduced employer class 1A national insurance contributions.
- Fuel savings.
- Reduced BiK taxation for company car drivers.
- No road tax.
Congratulations to Rebecca. Enjoy your motoring… and the tax breaks!