How cloud accounting helps you grow your business with less admin

Imagine that you needed separate mobile phones for separate apps, and that each time you wanted to call someone you had to do it the old-fashioned way and dial out each digit (and correct your mistypes).

It would be, in a word, inefficient. We take it for granted that our apps are integrated and that routine phone tasks are automated.

But countless businesses today follow an inefficient, outdated business model: their apps are disconnected, and their admin is manual, repetitive, and time-wasting.

These businesses put up with daily thieves of time and energy, and over time this adds up to wasteful costs in revenue, innovation potential, opportunities, and energy. A few examples:

  • Manually stitching together reports to get a clear picture of your finances, your teams’ progress, and your resources available, rather than having it all in front of you with a few clicks
  • Disjointed, poorly connected systems such as different apps and databases for your accounting and customer data
  • Excessive admin, such as manually processing payments and invoices, filing and processing tax forms, and other important but time-draining tasks that detract from driving profitability and gaining new customers
  • Desktop-focused applications, which limit your ability to work away from your desk

But the times are changing. The standard way of doing things with all its associated delays and inefficiency is giving way to more a automated, sanity-sparing approach driven by the cloud. The vision this is driving towards is one of “invisible admin”, freeing up entrepreneurs and business-people to focus on what they do best.

Cloud-based technologies are leveling the playing field: they’re making it cheaper, easier, and faster for people to set up and run a business, and to potentially out-compete long-standing competitors who’ve been rendered lumbering and inflexible by red tape.

For larger, more established businesses, cloud-based applications are helping them gain the forecasting insight and flexibility to steer clear of the looming “Kodak moment”, that is, the spectre of obsolescence.

Most businesses go this route (in the last 25 years, over 75% of the total Fortune 100 companies have disappeared). They stayed the same while the market — the unpredictable demands of customers — changed around them.

General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, pithily summed it up:

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”

To keep up with the pace of change and to deliver in-demand services to the market, business owners can gain a tremendous advantage with these 3 strategies:

  • Focus on innovation and value-creation, and minimise the time spent on admin and red tape
  • Get real-time analytics to get full visibility into their business —into their cashflow, sales, inventory, customer data, and finances — to make evidence-based decisions and guide profitability
  • Adapt quickly to changing market pressures and client demands

How much of your time and money is lost on admin?

As a smaller business you could get away with having disjointed systems, but it’s devastating for larger businesses.

Meet Sage Live.

Sage Live is an advanced accounting solution that gives you a secure portal to your mission-critical data, which you can access on any authorised device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, smartwatch) — bringing applications, operations, and people together.

You can choose from among thousands of professional business apps from the Salesforce AppExchange and the Sage Marketplace to create an individualised solution for your business.

Sage Live was developed with the flexibility of your whole business in mind: you get simple, intuitive accounting, real-time dashboards, collaboration tools, rich configurability, an enormous variety of apps, and continuous upgrades, feature releases, innovations, and improvements to the User Experience and functionality.

Who are Sage and why Sage Live?

Sage provides easy-to-use technology to help people build profitable businesses that last. As of writing, Sage has over 6 million customers (and growing) across 23 countries. In Britain more than half of the total businesses use Sage.

Sage Live is a partnership of two market leaders: Salesforce, who provide cloud solutions for customer success, and Sage, who provide solutions for Financial Management, Payroll, and Business Management.

Sage Live is built on the Salesforce platform and comes with predictive analytics (Salesforce Einstein™) to give businesses an in-depth, connected picture of their customers and finances. It gives businesses the tools to manage their entire business from one platform.

In June 2016, Sage Live won “Best Cloud Application” at the World Cloud and DevOps Awards in London.

Sage Live is currently live in 7 major markets (the USA, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, and South-Africa).

Four ways Sage Live accelerates business growth and efficiency

In marketing parlance, Sage Live “smashes silos”; in English, it gives you fast and easy access to the data you need. Here are four ways Sage Live does this:

1. Flexible, simple customisation: Connect thousands of business apps from the Salesforce AppExchange

Customise Sage Live to your unique business needs by instantly and easily integrating third-party apps, such as apps for banking, inventory, supply chain, and document management. (These are deployed instantly, and removed just as easily.)

It also comes with a range of apps for improving the flow of information across your business; for example, using the collaboration software Chatter your team can communicate together while making changes to files and records, or update sales opportunities, create private groups (which can include customers), and much more, all updated in real-time.

2. Unlock customer and business insight: Get real-time data, intuitive dashboards, and analytics

When you’re asked questions about any aspect of your business, you’ll be able to respond quickly with accurate answers.

All your key financial data and business transactions are displayed in one centralised hub. No delays, no errors, no manually stitching together reports.

In an instant you can see the ROI of your projects and clients, along with the financial and analytical insight to see exactly what’s working and what isn’t. This helps you continually focus on what works best, such as improving customer segmentation and prioritisation. The data include:

  • Real-time billable time tracking
  • Resource forecasting and management
  • Data into areas for margin improvement
  • Real-time insights into projects, clients, teams, project profitability and more

Information is updated in real-time (including your Payroll, Invoicing, Expenses, Inventory, Bank Feeds, and CRM*) and the dashboards let you easily track the profitability of each customer and project. The real-time analytics give you the insight for effective forecasting, and the customisable dashboards give you the visibility needed to ensure profitability.

3. Greater convenience: Connect your financial and customer data in one intuitive, powerful, secure platform

Integrated data gives your team immediate (but controlled) access to the information they need; they never have to waste time switching between systems, and they can work from anywhere.

Have a few minutes to spare while waiting for a train? Just take out your phone or tablet and manage your daily tasks in real-time, whether that’s approving expenses or accessing customer data.

Rather than letting admin turn into a mountain to be summitted when you get back at the office, you can take care of admin — through a highly automated, convenient design — from anywhere.

When trading overseas, Sage Live ensures you’re automatically compliant with local legislation, giving you the peace of mind to do what you do best, and further shrinking the bureaucratic mountain.

Sage has worked closely with Apple to revamp the user interfaces to be as intuitive and convenient as possible.

4. More productivity and time saved: Automate repetitive admin

Using predictive automation you can eliminate spreadsheets, paperwork, and tedious admin (such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, expense reports, invoicing, receipts, payments to suppliers, and bank reconciliation).

By unburdening your team from admin, you can focus more on decision making, innovation, strategy, and growing your business, to say nothing of getting more enjoyment from your work.

(You can browse the full features here, and view a growing list of case studies here.)

Making new sense of the business landscape

From the Gutenberg printing press over 500 years ago to open-API software today, the freeing of information has resulted in enormous leaps forward in innovation.

Bill Gates summed it up 1999: “Power comes not from knowledge kept but knowledge shared”.

Major trends enabled by technology are shaking up the business landscape, and the choice is to “pivot and adapt” or keep doing what you’re doing and risk falling into irrelevance.

In short, the trends are towards

  • Integrated systems and easily shared information, not disconnected, fractured information
  • Automation to free up creative focus, not draining human capital on repetitive tasks
  • Real-time analytics and clear, actionable insight, not playing catch-up with a hodgepodge of post-hoc reports
  • Mobile, collaborative, flexible working, not bureaucracy-laden, desktop-limited work
  • Streamlined, efficient, convenient systems, not a mire of unnecessary complexity and clunky outdated software

Sage Live helps you transform the typical byproducts of growth — fragmentation, complexity, and inefficiency — into consolidated, intuitive data that you can grasp at a glance.

The dashboards give your team everything they need to pull together towards shared KPIs, to get actionable information in real-time, to easily manage and share this information on-the-go, and to take advantage of the best-available smart technology to make all of this as uncomplicated as possible.

You can take a free tour of Sage Live here.