Gloucestershire-based BookCheck helps customers grow through clever bookkeeping and management reporting – and its expertise at moving customers to the next generation of accounting software is proving to be transformational for the businesses it works with.
A whole new sister company, BookCheck X Ltd, is being launched to deliver the specialist service of migrating businesses accounts to the industry-leading cloud-based Xero platform, which the Five Valley’s firm says will save businesses money, remove IT issues and deliver better management information, too.
About the expert – BookCheck
Gloucestershire-based BookCheck was founded by Anthony Pilkington in 1994 and has grown to become a major force in the delivery of transformative bookkeeping with management accounts services for businesses UK wide.
An increasing number of businesses are also now benefiting from its ability to make their accounts digital, using the firm’s Xero Migration plus Add-on Development (MAD) service – with new company BookCheck Xero MAD Ltd being formed to specialise in this subject, led by newly-appointed general manager, Keri Baker.
Why is Xero BookCheck’s preferred accounting software for clients?
We grew up with Sage software from 27 years ago, but it’s had its day. In our opinion Xero is quite simply the best accounting software for our clients – and for BookCheck. That’s why we decided some years ago to be exclusively Xero, apart from a few clients left on Sage that we would expect to migrate.
As well as being easy for clients to understand and use, it’s naturally very efficient and time saving for them – having things such as automatic feeds of information from banks. There is a great list of useful features inbuilt.
In addition, Xero add-ons (apps) provide a massive range of complementary help, such as order processing; stock control; linking to web sales; payment systems; credit control and debt chasing; expenses; forecasting and more. In fact, there are 1,000 add-ons to choose from.
Being exclusive to Xero enables our whole team to be totally focused and fully trained, rather than being spread thinly across multiple platforms – so we’re significantly more efficient and cost less.
What are the key advantages of moving a business to Xero?
In short, significantly lower staff costs and it’s much easier to use. Xero costs only about £30 per month, which is really nothing. The staff cost savings can be substantial as it automates many processes, such as a manual bank reconciliation. It would not be unusual to save say £10,000 to £15,000 per annum, plus benefiting from much quicker and easier to obtain information.
A key benefit is that Xero is cloud-based and it works really easily. There are no IT issues affecting its use, compared with likely problems with other accounting software, including Sage cloud.
Access to Xero add-ons can literally transform a business, at the very least significant efficiencies will be achieved. We have one client whose turnover has quadrupled in the last two years. It simply would not have been possible to cope on the old Sage system, at least not without a huge increase in staff costs.
Now the critical Xero add-ons for complex stock control, production and order processing are at the hub of the company’s systems, with a whole range of staff interfacing. This massive improvement will be worth some tens of thousands per annum in cost savings.
A not-so-obvious benefit is that, quite simply, the whole business just feels an awful lot better using good systems and software. It reduces stress and simply makes everyone feel in control – that’s worth a lot.
How long and involved is the process of migrating a company’s accounts and can businesses expect a smooth transition?
The migration moves all the accounting data such as full details of the sales ledger and all the transactions for years past. The task varies from fairly straightforward to complex and demanding.
If it’s not handled properly then problems and errors will be caused. It’s false economy not to handle this one-off task professionally. The actual migration will take a very short period, like a few days. BookCheck will handle the whole process to a clear timetable and that will definitely be smooth, as it always is in our experience.
Will a company’s staff need lots of training to cope with the new system going forward?
No. Xero is very intuitive and easy for clients to learn and use. It’s lovely software, designed for non-accounting trained users. Surprisingly it’s fun to use, too. We will naturally support and train clients on their Xero work, it’s very straightforward.
BookCheck has just launched a stand-alone business, BookCheck X Ltd (MAD – Migration & Add-on Developments). Why is that?
The new company is exclusively focussed on just two services that we call MAD: Migration to Xero and assistance with Add-on Development.
On the migration side, we handle the whole task of moving all the accounting data from any system to Xero. Often this is tricky and demanding, but as we do everything, the client doesn’t need to worry.
Add-ons are like apps on an iPhone. They are extra features which plumb into Xero. This includes stock control and order processing going beyond the basic Xero. Other examples are purchase invoice processing; paying suppliers; credit control and debt chasing; processing of expense claims; forecasting and so on.
All add-ons improve efficiency – some massively and some are transformative. Our role is to check the client’s specific requirements then shortlist maybe three options, together with a summary of pluses and minuses. Then we assist the client in making a decision.
We then onboard the add-on data and plumb it into Xero. Sometimes the client assists with this workload but mostly we handle the whole task.
How future proof is Xero? How will it cope with a fast-growing business – and will a company’s preferred accountants will be familiar with the technology and onside with the move?
Some sceptics, including some qualified accountants, wrote off Xero as ‘only good enough for the corner shop’. How wrong they are – and worse, as it’s denying benefits to be gained.
We have clients of £20 million turnover using it without restriction. Accountants generally will have no problem at all with Xero. It’s very quickly taking over from what was the market leader, Sage.
What is clear is that the only important party to consider in this choice is the business, not the accountant.