Small business owners today have a magnitude of demands to contend with day-to-day; economic pressures, restrictions caused by red tape; time-consuming and cumbersome tasks, such as company accounts, can all distract small business owners from their core business activities.
Business research specialist, Trends Research, is one small business which has found a way to free up time and ease the struggle of mundane daily activities, through a cloud-based and flexible solution to manage its accounts. After struggling for a number of years with rigid accounting software, the company moved to KashFlow and immediately saw value from the flexible accounting system.
Moving to the cloud
Trends Research is a firm advocate of the cloud, as Richard Alvin, group managing director at Trends Research, says, “The cloud offers a flexible working pattern that desktop systems simply can’t compete with. In 2009 we made the decision to begin shifting our IT systems to the cloud. It soon became apparent that making all aspects of the business cloud-based would provide complete flexibility. By early 2011 the only part of our business that wasn’t on the cloud was our accounts, and so this became the final piece of the jigsaw.”
At the time the company was using QuickBooks for its accounts; a system which the company inherited in 2008 from the previous owners. However after four years of struggling with the software, Trends Research made the decision to find a more flexible solution for its accounting system.
Richard Alvin says, “One of the biggest problems we had with our previous solution was that it was only compatible with PCs, but 80 per cent of our business works on Macs. In addition, the software didn’t have the flexibility that we needed; our bookkeeper, financial director and myself all need to access the company accounts on a regular basis and at the time the only way any of us could do this was by physically being in the office.
“We initially looked at Sage, and had a trial of the system, but found that it lacked some basic functions that the business was looking for. As a business research specialist, we often hear of business services and the name of KashFlow was regularly mentioned.”
A flexible accounting solution
For Trends Research, the most important consideration when it implemented the KashFlow accounts system was the flexibility that the cloud-based system provides the business with.
Richard Alvin says, “For us, the key success measurement of KashFlow is the agility of our company’s accounts. This means that as a workforce we are able to be as flexible as our accounting system.”
This agility proved to be particularly pivotal to the business when its bookkeeper, Laura Levy returned from maternity leave, and due to childcare needs could only be in the office for two days a week.
Laura Levy, bookkeeper at Trends Research says, “Planning to return to work from maternity leave was a worrying time; I knew that I wanted to work full time, but was aware that childcare arrangements could make this impossible. Moving our accounts onto the cloud has provided me with the flexibility to work as normal for five days a week but I only need to be physically in the office for two of those days.”
“If we didn’t have KashFlow we potentially could have lost a valuable member of staff”, adds Richard Alvin.
With the flexibility of an accounting solution being such an important factor for Trends Research, cost wasn’t a consideration when choosing the software; the company cared more about the value that it would receive in both the short and long term. However the agility of the system has also enabled Trends Research to see an immediate reduction in its cost base and overheads.
Richard Alvin comments, “In terms of the bottom line, KashFlow provides us with an annual saving of £15,000. And because the solution is designed to speed-up, simplify and automate the accounts process, man hours have also been saved. For example the direct post feature of the system has enabled us to eradicate the time we were spending completing a mundane weekly invoice run. The task had previously taken us 20 minutes, so 17 hours a year, which equates to over two working days, were being spent just running, printing, folding and franking invoices. That time has now come down to zero, meaning that those two days can be spent getting on with business.”
For Trends Research managing the accounts is no longer a headache, meaning that time can be prioritised to more important activities – such as growing the business.