Done well, the virtual bookkeeping relationship can be very beneficial for both the bookkeeper and the business owner. Done poorly, the virtual relationship will fall over leaving all concerned a little worse for wear. So are there any pitfalls to virtual bookkeeping? Unfortunately yes, as with any system, things can go wrong. Here is our list of common pitfalls:
The client fails to communicate in a timely manner including not responding to email, sms or snail mail and/or cancelling his accounts meeting. This slows the virtual bookkeeping system considerably and causes us no end of angst! We spend a lot of our own time following up these types of clients - it can be very frustrating!
The client fails to provide source documents by the due date. Once again, a lot of time is spent following up this type of client and waiting for the documents. This totally disrupts our client work schedule and can mean that this client's bookkeeping assignment is completed at a later date rather than by the date first agreed upon.
The client provides incorrect documents or omits some important data. Sometimes the client doesn't read his checklist of documents (which we provide to every client prior to the beginning of the bookkeeping assignment) and either provides irrelevant documents or omits other important ones. This means that we have to wait until the correct data is provided, again slowing the virtual bookkeeping process considerably.
Misinterpretations - sometimes even though we do our best via monthly accounts meetings and constant email etc. information received by us and/or directives sent to clients can go awry. Basically, information is not understood correctly and misinterpretation can occur leading to incorrect outcomes. While this negative aspect is kept to a minimum, it does occur from time to time.
Files being corrupted or the wrong file being used - those clients using desktop software have to send us their accounting data files. Sometimes, clients mistakenly send us the wrong file to work on e.g. an old backup file or the file they have sent to us has become corrupt, making is unusable. Once again, this doesn't happen often thankfully but it is a possibility. (a great argument for using cloud-based platforms!)
Internet not available - from time to time depending on several variables, we may not have access to internet connection. This means that we cannot access clients' online accounting files (or uploaded source documents). While we always have other clients' work to go on with, this does present a problem especially if it is important to access client's data quickly.
Video Conferencing software - occasionally some video conferencing software/apps can provide a less-than-satisfactory online meeting experience. This can be embarrassing and does disrupt the virtual bookkeeping process significantly.
Communicating with accountants - occasionally, we find that some accountants can be very "distant" not wanting to communicate with us on a regular basis, if at all! This can be problematic especially as we believe that to be successful, the client bookkeeping assignment must include contact with his accountant/tax agent. This is made even more difficult when this type of accountant works in another state and cannot be easily visited in person.
These are just some of the negative aspects we have experienced when engaging in virtual bookkeeping. Thankfully, the positive aspects outweigh the negative ones and make working remotely a pleasure at e-BAS Accounts. What pitfalls of virtual bookkeeping have you experienced? Feel free to share them here.