From paper bag to paper-free – switch to paperless accounting

It’s the old accounting nightmare – the client brings in their records in a carrier bag or shoe box, dumps it on the desk and says “Here you go –  can you get my accounts / tax return done by the end of the month, please?”

We don’t see it happen very often but it happened recently with a new client.

One carrier bag containing a lever-arch file of purchase invoices and a box file full of bank statements and cash receipts. The previous accountant is no longer in business but there are accounts from two years ago we can take as our starting point.

Paperless accounting – the tools you need

The two pillars of paperless accounting are a document management app, such as AutoEntry or Dext, and cloud accounting software such as Xero or QuickBooks.

Document management apps

These apps read the data in documents, such as invoices, bank statements and receipts, and convert them into a format that can be sent straight to your accounting software – along with the PDF of the document.

With one client, we had to scan the 35 pages of bank statements for the financial year and upload them as PDFs to AutoEntry.

The next day AutoEntry had crunched the bank statement data into one file which we downloaded as a QuickBooks compatible CSV file and 950 receipts and payments were ready to be imported into QuickBooks.

Cloud accounting software

Essential for paperless accounting is cloud accounting software.

Choose your software and connect it to your business bank accounts so that all your bank transactions automatically appear in the software to be accounted for.

  1. Set rules so that when a particular customer or supplier name or reference appears on the bank statement the correct accounting entry is automatically made for that transaction
  2. Even without rules, your accounting software will start to remember transactions and suggest the accounting entries for recurring customers and suppliers

There are other apps that you can connect to your accounting software, but be careful – they’re not all as helpful as they seem.

Paperless accounting workflows

Workflows change in the paper-free world.

Transactions land in your accounting software every day and should be accounted for as often as possible.

There is little point in doing the historical accounting without keeping the books up to date going forwards.

And there’s little point in keeping the accounting up to date without producing and sharing financial information and reports across the business – and acting on them!

This blog is mainly for people running their own business. New technology is sweeping across the accounting profession like never before and the question for you is whether your business is benefiting from the best and most appropriate tech available.

If so then you will have at your fingertips the financial information you need to grow your business and improve profitability and cashflow.

Can we help you go paperless? Give me a call on 020 7125 0270 or email me at

Michael – @bluedotmichael

Related links:

Bookkeeping for business

Xero training

QuickBooks training

Blue Dot Consulting Limited