The paper-free accountant

The paper-free accountant can now exist because online services have fundamentally changed the landscape of how businesses can interact with their accountants. This change is set to continue.

There are several enabling technologies but also a tendency to lump them together and suggest you can’t have one without another.

That’s not true, so let us unbundle them and see how you can build a “mix – and – match” solution that’s right for your business and lets you choose a paper-free accountant.

Apps for paper-free accounting

Apps such as AutoEntry and Receipt Bank manage and store images of invoices and receipts and will push them, along with the correct accounting entries, directly into your cloud accounting software.

You forward emails containing the PDF of your suppliers’ invoices to these apps. Equally you can download a version of the app on your phone and capture an image from there.

Nothing is printed out and nothing needs to be physically filed. Workflows change and they change for the better!

However, it’s vitally important that the business has a full and reliable back up of these documents in case the primary source is somehow lost or damaged.

Also worth visiting is HMRC’s guide on record keeping – even they say “HMRC recommend you keep all the original documents you receive. This does not mean you need to keep them on paper.”

The times they are a’changin!


Accounting software and the paper-free accountant

The last few years have also seen the introduction of several cloud accounting services. They have advantages and disadvantages.

Amongst the advantages:

  • You and your accountant can both work on and access the data and financial reports any time and anywhere
  • You can be in a PC or a Mac environment and still use the software
  • The client is best placed to raise sales invoices and raising them in the online accounting system does the accounting at the same time, improving credit control and saving time and money
  • Apps are being developed for online packages all the time which help to integrate tasks and processes

Amongst the disadvantages:

  • Although it’s catching up, the online software is not as functional as the desktop versions
  • Pricing is a continuous subscription model whereas the desktop version can be an outright purchase which is likely to be cheaper in the medium term
  • With desktop software you can take and restore a back up which means you can safely test a new process or an upload of data and if you make errors you can always restore your back up and start again
  • Many online accounting software services are sold through an accountant (not necessarily a paper-free accountant!). But beware – down the line if you find that either the accountant or the software is not a good fit for your business then these arrangements can be difficult to disentangle

So you pays your money and makes your choice. But the choice of accounting software and online document management do not determine each other.

You can do either, neither or both at the same time.  Visit our dedicated cloud accounting service page to learn more about how we can work together.


Are you making the most of the digital age to save time, reduce costs, reduce the amount of space you need and allow your business to run more flexibly?

If you’re not then you should be.

Just don’t start from a blank sheet of paper!


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