Adrian pearson is A VETERAN UK CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT AND the founder of ledgerscope - A SOFTWARE COMPANY MAking great tools for accountants in practice.

Mobile accounting app or voice?

I read with interest Dennis Howlett's piece this morning discussing the adoption of cloud accounting in the UK. What caught my eye in particular was his assertion that:

"the user experience of the future is going to be dominated by what can be delivered on smartphones and tablet devices"

Now, I can agree that "consumer" software vendors need to have a strong strategy for mobile devices. I am less convinced regarding accounting software - at least when we are considering anything other than the smallest micro-entities (e.g. one man band limited companies).

Of course, cloud accounting software vendors need to have mobile capability, because in certain situations, such as expenses management, there are clear advantages in being able to process transactions "on the go". However, I believe that only a small subset of the functionality of an accounting application needs to be available to mobile users.

The reason I made my distinction between very small businesses and larger ones above, is that, once we get past the one man band stage, the business will have other members of staff - typically helping with admin.

In my experience the owner of a small business will be much more likely to telephone the office and ask if a customer they are just about to visit has paid their last invoice, rather than fiddle around looking that information up on their mobile phone. Likewise, if they are just about to go into a meeting with the bank manager, they would call in and ask their bookkeeper what the current, reconciled bank balance is first.

In any but the very smallest businesses, there are other members of a team "back at the ranch" available to be called upon to answer accounting queries quickly and easily. The small business owners I have worked with over the past 20 years are skilled at getting the information they need from their people in this way.

So, yes, I think that some accounting functionality makes sense delivered via a smarthphone but I think the scope of such functionality should be quite limited.

Smartphones have a ubiquitous, really neat app called Voice - and we should recognise that in many cases it's the right tool for the job.

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