By Richard Woolgar, Management Information & Systems Manager, Armstrong Watson LLP

 WHETHER you complete your financial record-keeping yourself or have a finance team, technology provides some great opportunities to make this task more efficient.

Addressing the accounting systems you currently use and making sure you get the most out of them can help reduce the headaches keeping financial records can create.

Most cloud-based accounting systems have a function to download bank feeds through online banking, meaning you don’t have to manually enter them. They will appear every morning and then it’s simply a case of allocating the transaction to the right heading or invoice.

Invoice scanning software such as AutoEntry can automatically enter supplier invoices into your system simply by taking a picture or scanning invoices. You can also provide a “magic” email address to your suppliers so that any supplier invoices sent to this email address will automatically appear on your financial system.

Another useful function of cloud-based accounting systems is that they have a facility to set up rules, meaning any recurring transactions – paid every month or quarter to the same suppliers – can be treated consistently. For example, with BT bills, rules can be set up to claim 20 per cent VAT and post the net amount to telephone costs.

You’ll also need to ensure your chart of accounts provides sufficient detail – but not too much. Having too many headings can lead to transactions being misallocated and can take time to correct.

Other time-saving functions include performing a pay-run directly from your financial system and the facility to automatically chase customers with debts outside your credit terms. They can also integrate with systems you use for day-to-day operations, such as hotel booking systems or website sales systems, meaning data is transferred automatically.

Finally, having a dashboard of live KPIs and financial headlines, which can be customised on most cloud systems, helps business owners focus on what is important and take immediate action where necessary, limiting the extent of emerging issues before they grow.

Armstrong Watson can perform all or part of your business’s finance functions. You may be surprised by how competitively priced this appears compared with the salary cost of employing someone. 

If you would like to discuss your current accounting system and how you can improve efficiency to save you time then please email us at or phone Richard Woolgar on 0808 144 5575.