In our recent article we talked about the commercial advantage to be gained by using automation in conjunction with outsourcing. In this article, we share 4 tips from our clients who are enjoying the financial benefits of using automation and outsourcing.
Use existing ‘plug and play’ tools wherever they are available
Whilst it can be very tempting to think about creating bespoke software packages with custom integrations between add-ons and systems, this can end up being very expensive and time-consuming. Ideally wherever possible you want to build any software bundles, that are used with clients, e.g. Xero + receipt bank + chaser + spotlight, so that no bespoke integration for your clients is needed. After all, it just takes one software vendor to do an update and this could break your bespoke software solution.
Be prepared to ditch timesheets
Typically when you transition to a business model where you embrace outsourcing and automation, the billing structure is typically based around a fixed fee. After all, you are paying a fixed fee to your outsourcer (well you are if you are using us!), so you no longer need a timesheet to record how long it took you to do the year-end accounts. It may take some time for your fee earners to get used to quoting upfront a fixed fee on the work you do for your clients.
Don’t bet your business model on a young software house with a great add on
The current ecosystem of add-ons for Xero and Quickbooks is expanding massively by the day. This level of rapid expansion is similar to when social media started to go mainstream. As a result there was a explosion in social media related software products to help you manage your social media better. Fast forward 5 years and nearly all of these early software houses have gone out of business or been bought by bigger players. There is a strong likelihood that something similar will happen with the add on community. There will be a consolidation of add ons and not everyone will survive. Therefore, make sure that any business critical add ons looks like it will stick around for the long term.
Keep it simple when it comes to add ons
The current add on ecosystem is the equivalent of going into a sweetshop. There seems to be so much choice. This can make it tempting to want to build a custom set of add ons for each particular client you look after. The last thing you want to be doing is introducing vast amounts of complexity to your automation and outsourcing. Choose at most a handful of add ons which will do what 80% of your clients want. Get this suite working well together and use these to sell as a solution to clients. Only once you have got your core suite working well consider variations on this for particular industry sectors which you look after.
When it comes to taking your first steps into automation and outsourcing keep it simple. Choose reliable add ons from reliable software providers, such as spotlight reporting and receipt bank. Get these integrated and mastered first before looking to extend the range of add ons you offer to your clients.