Many SME’s are outsourcing their bookkeeping and BAS tasks to professional bookkeepers. This frees them up to get on with running their businesses and gives them peace-of-mind that their bookkeeping is correct and compliant. It’s a great thing to do especially if you loathe bookkeeping! While some SME’s prefer to employ an on-site bookkeeper, many are turning to virtual bookkeepers for assistance. So just what is a virtual bookkeeper and how do you work with one?
A virtual bookkeeper is someone who works remotely, utilising current technologies and the internet to complete bookkeeping and other tasks for his clients. Virtual bookkeeping is not location-dependent. A virtual bookkeeper can offer services to clients Australia-wide (or perhaps world-wide), without leaving his office. The internet, current technologies and cloud services all make this possible.
Some business owners are hesitant to use a virtual bookkeeper because they just don’t understand how the whole process works. They can’t get their heads around using a bookkeeper who lives in another town or state for their bookkeeping needs. So just how does this virtual thing work? For the virtual relationship to be successful and beneficial, the virtual bookkeeper must have a proven system in place which nurtures this success. Here is the virtual bookkeeping system we use at e-BAS Accounts:
After the initial contact with a new client, an appointment is set for the first consultation. This meeting can be held via telephone, Skype, Go To Meeting, Hangouts (Google+) and other video conferencing apps such as Vyew or Any Meeting. At this meeting the client’s bookkeeping assignment is discussed in depth and created.
A client and confidentiality agreement is drafted and sent to the client via email, mail or fax for signing. Once the agreement is signed, the bookkeeping can begin! Some practices call this an engagement letter.
Clients can choose between desktop-based platforms like MYOB or QuickBooks and cloud-based software like Xero, Saasu or MYOB Live Accounts. Desktop data files can be emailed (file size dependent), shared via Dropbox, uploaded to our secure online storage facility and/or sent via mail on usb drive or CD format. Cloud-based software files are shared with us via an invitation that the client sends to us to become a user of their file online.
Firstly, we send our clients a checklist to help them prepare their source documents for us. We list all data required and provide guidance on how to organise this data before sending it. Clients use various methods to send their bookkeeping documents to us! These include:
Once we receive the client’s documents, we get to work! We will process the data into the client’s chosen accounting software whether this be cloud-based or desktop-based. Clients are kept up to date with the progress of their bookkeeping assignments on a regular basis via email and/or telephone.
Once all bookkeeping is complete, we process various financial reports for the client. We then send these reports via email or share them via the client’s chosen method e.g. Dropbox.
Every client is required to attend a monthly meeting at which the previous month’s bookkeeping is discussed. This is compulsory as communication is the key to a successful virtual bookkeeping relationship. Because we do not see or visit our clients regularly (sometimes never!) in person, it is possible for the virtual relationship to fall over – “out of sight, out of mind” as the saying goes. Not only are these meetings necessary to ensure that nothing is forgotten or misinterpreted in relation to a client’s accounts, but they also ensure there is a personal level of contact maintained between the bookkeeper and client, something that no amount emailing and texting can accomplish!
Data which is posted to us is posted back to clients at no cost to them. Data which is shared with us via Dropbox (or other sharing app) is retained in the shared folder at the discretion of the client and data which has been uploaded to our secure online storage facility remains in the client’s account until such time as the client may wish to terminate the bookkeeping agreement.
So that’s how we make virtual bookkeeping work at e-BAS Accounts! Does this work 100% of the time? No of course not! Things do go wrong but most of the time this system is fail-safe. It allows us to operate a successful virtual bookkeeping business which is not location-dependent all from the comfort of our lovely seaside office here in Torquay, Victoria! Perfect!