My Comments on Doug Sleeter's "Xero" Entry Blog Post

May 26th 2011
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My friend Doug Sleeter of The Sleeter Group recently put a post up on his blog related to Xero, the accounting software company from New Zealand, and how they are changing the process of accounting.

Here is my long-winded philosophical response:

It is true that the accounting space is changing rapidly! It’s almost hard to keep up with all of the changes. But technology is just an enabler to bigger philosophical changes as to how accounting data is processed. In the US we are used to processing accounting expenditures in our accounting software by typing into something that looks like a big electronic check (as in QuickBooks). But it took some entrepreneurs and designers at Xero (not accountants) to challenge us in our predisposition to processing accounting data.

How should we process accounting data in the future? Well, I can assure you that it will not be the way we do it now. With cloud tools, we are able to help out clients move into a world of managing “data flows” as opposed to doing accounting. They are snapping pictures of their receipts, scanning and emailing documents into systems, paying people electronically and managing “always on” perpetual bank reconciliations. And the best part is that all of this “data flow” automatically populates accounting systems better than accountants can do it. Bottom Line: we don’t need accountants to do accounting.

Technology is getting smarter, so it means the accountant’s job must change. MUST. It will HAVE to change. So the dude’s comments above about the “love fest with the cloud” are hilarious. I’m glad he’s not part of the accounting future too (that makes two of us!). Sheesh.

Anyway, since innovative cloud providers are building products that are challenging our beliefs on how to process accounting data, and are specifically challenging the paper-based system of businesses, we are going to see our views on accounting change.

The new breed of accountants will now be managing “data flows” among various disparate computer systems, becoming experts in how they talk to each other and how best to make them work together. Throw in the secure online cloud systems we are all moving to, and we now get to do all of this anywhere, anytime, and for anyone. Pretty cool. Our firm has heavily valued (Rod Drury likes it when I use the words “heavy value” so I threw that in there for him) our ability to make systems talk to each other, eliminate manual entry and get rid of paper. Paper is killing our clients’ business processes, and now we can eliminate it for them. We are becoming the cloud solution providers, doing it all over the world and consulting on efficiency within business processes.

But this is a hard road to walk because the cloud is always changing, which means our consulting has to always include the latest products and how they now affect business processes. Whew. It’s fun, but time consuming to keep up.

The new definition of the public accountant: “Business and Accountancy Efficiency Cloud Solutions Integrators.” (try to fit that on your business card).

In summary, you’ll find Xero processes things differently. It’s not what we’re used to. But I like it because these systems are finally being built collaboratively with other systems in mind. The right systems are challenging the old out-dated way of doing things and proposing new ways to do it. Some won’t like it. But they can kiss my butt. I’m gonna hang with those who like it, because I’ve got a lot to learn.

I think I’ll get my PhD in Business and Accountancy Efficiency Cloud Solutions Integration. Do they offer that yet?


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