On a recent road trip to Dubbo Zoo the kids’ Nana thought it would great for us all to visit a museum and show the youngsters a bit of history. After about half an hour into our visit I found this old accounting machine, which really got me thinking about just how much the job has changed!
This ‘bookkeeping machine’ was basically a calculator and printer all rolled into one, built specifically for doing things like payroll and company billing. Machines like this were everywhere from 1900 right up until 1980, when the first computers started to take over.
When I first started as an accountant, we didn’t use these (I’m not that old!) but everything was still very long winded. We used to write up everything in ledgers, reconcile and cross check, and then post a journal to the accounting program.
Today, we use Xero, which basically does all those jobs in a split second.
Xero is a software program that has direct feeds from whichever bank a client uses. Our clients use it in conjunction with us, so it has really changed the way we interact with them. We can now do realtime accounting on a daily basis, and they can access exactly what we can see, all live on their computer or even their phone. I’m always on my phone with clients, analysing what happened last month and forecasting the future.
The software memorises every single transaction. It can match up income and expenditure, and basically reconcile the whole lot for you, just pending your approval! It even suggests where things should be coded and posted to, and gets smarter as you use it.
Xero isn’t the only thing to have changed the way we do business. All our documents and files are now scanned in electronically and stored in the cloud, so as long as I have an internet connection these days I can work as if I’m at my desk in the office – no matter where I am in the world. When I’m out seeing clients, I have a ‘magic’ book and pen that I write up notes with and it scribes it back to my laptop or iPad, which is then easily converted into typed up notes which I can email to clients or staff for the next steps in the project. Makes my life a lot more efficient!
I hadn’t really considered how much the job had changed, until I saw this accounting machine. It’s not even that old, it was first used only three years before I was born! I think the biggest change for me is how much more time I get to spend actually talking to people nowadays, giving them quality face to face time and being able to actively research things for their businesses, instead of being stuck inside reconciling, cross checking and double handling data!