Desktop accounting holds SMEs back in digitalisation era

Cloud-based accounting tools help small business owners to become more efficient, increase productivity and save time.
Colin Timmis
By Colin Timmis, South Africa country manager, Xero
Johannesburg, 29 Jul 2022

Technology adoption and digitalisation rapidly increased over the last few years, changing the way we live and work, driving efficiencies and making our lives easier.

Businesses and industries have adapted to a changing world by making their processes and customer interactions more digital. The main form of doing business is now online, and those that aren’t online are quickly falling behind.

Yet there are still many small businesses slow to adopt cloud technology. In a recent survey from Xero, half of small businesses said they use spreadsheets to keep track of their accounts, while 43% said they use a pen and paper.

It pains me to think about the amount of time small businesses are spending on these manual ways of accounting. There is a better way!

Cloud accounting software takes the heavy lifting out by automating manual processes and storing all financial data in one easily accessible, secure system.

Cloud-based tools help business owners become more efficient and have the potential to increase productivity.

The recent State of South African Small Business report shows cloud adoption has accelerated during the pandemic, with 51% of the small businesses surveyed now using some form of cloud technology in their business.

Of those that have adopted cloud technology, 30% say it has enabled them to reach new customers, and over a quarter can point to improvements in their processes.

Streamline financial processes

In the report, nearly a third (31%) of the small businesses have used cloud technology to simplify their financial processes, leaving them with less admin work. A further 28% say cloud technology has improved their general business operations.

Cloud-based tools help business owners become more efficient and have the potential to increase productivity. They’re saving business owners’ time – the ultimate non-renewable resource – and freeing them up to focus on other aspects of their business.

Once financial data has been pulled into and stored in the cloud, it’s much easier to identify areas of improvement, whether it’s removing unnecessary resources or directing more resources into opportunities for growth.

It also helps small businesses with key challenges they face, such as cash flow and getting paid on time.

Cloud accounting enables them to implement online payments to make it easy for their customers to pay them, and has the ability to gain deeper insights into how the business is performing through smart dashboards and reports.

Connect apps to help run your business

The beauty of cloud technology is that it’s able to integrate with other apps that solve issues for other areas of running a business beyond core accounting.

The pandemic has encouraged more small businesses to experiment with digital tools and adapt to new ways of doing things. Many are rethinking how they spend their time and what’s important to them, and are starting something new or trying something different.

We are mindful that technology alone isn’t going to solve all the challenges faced by small businesses in the country; however, it can alleviate many of the constraints that are holding them back.

The world is changing and those who embrace technology are going to find it easier to stay ahead, and have more time to spend doing what they do best.