The past 18 months have been defined by uncertainty and disruption, both economically and socially. While the world settles into a “new normal” and Malaysia begins to ease restrictions, it is time for businesses to realign their objectives and refocus on operations.

For accountants and business advisors, there is a huge opportunity to help clients plan for long-term growth and profitability through digitalisation. By leveraging data and insights through digital tools, businesses can develop greater resilience through the transformation of business operations and practices.

For example, Xero partner InTune Outsourcing switched to a remote working model to keep operations running within one day of the government’s announcement of the first MCO in March 2020. The cloud-based accounting and financial advisory firm asked clients to send their physical accounting documents via couriers to InTune Outsourcing’s staff, who were working remotely from home. Using a cloud-based data automation tool, employees then digitised and processed the documents, providing clients with the financial information they needed to keep their business running.

Digital tools also help free up time that could be spent on higher value areas like crafting business strategies, utilising the insight that these tools offer. A global McKinsey report revealed that SMEs spend up to 74% of their time on non-core business activities, of which banking is a primary one. By implementing cloud accounting solutions, bank feeds are directly processed in the accounting system, removing the need for manual data entry and bank reconciliation. SMEs and their advisors can easily access this data for greater insight on their cash flow and real-time visibility over revenue and costs. This in turn helps business owners identify opportunities and make smarter, data-driven decisions.

Navigating the world of digital solutions can be challenging. However, the benefits realised with the right combination of tools are clear. A recent research report from Xero showed that firms in Australia, New Zealand and the UK that used five or more business tools performed better than those with none.  At the height of the pandemic, businesses that used Xero and connected tools experienced less of a decline in sales compared to the year before (13% decline year on year), a considerably smaller impact than SMEs that had not adopted any digital technology to manage their business, which experienced a 21% decline year on year. Improved cash flow can also support business operations, like staff retention, that are likely to be impacted in challenging economic climates. The report additionally found that businesses which had digitalised downsized only one in seven jobs during the pandemic, compared to one in five jobs lost by those which hadn’t during the same period.

Digital accounting platforms can be game-changers for businesses — they improve efficiency while empowering data-driven decision-making. Find out more about how digital tools can elevate your practice and better support your clients by attending Xero Roadshow Asia, where industry leaders will share their expertise, learnings and best practices.

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