The Demise of VT Transaction+ Spreadsheets: ExHell or ExHeaven?
If you’re an accountant and you read Accounting Web recently, you would have thought that the apocalypse had arrived. “I love this product, and now I have to work out what to replace it with” said one, “I do the vast majority of my clients’ bookkeeping so will now need to either switch and pay for other solutions!” complained another.
What had brought about this chorus of despair? VT Software had announced that it would be halting the development of VT Transaction+, a small business bookkeeping tool that often operates as a front end to their final accounts package.
Apparently many, many accountants were reliant on Transaction+, which allowed them to use Excel spreadsheets, desktop accounting software and Dropbox in collaboration with their clients.
VT Software wielded the knife because “the government plans that all VAT returns for businesses with a turnover above the VAT registration threshold must be submitted via MTD [Making Tax Digital] from April 2019. As a consequence, VT Transaction+ will no longer be suitable for these businesses.”
VT Software is not necessarily wrong in its judgement. Making Tax Digital will represent a significant shift in the way accountancy operates as a whole. However, the howls of despair from some quarters are not called for, as there are plenty of alternative software solutions out there that are relatively inexpensive and that improve accounting processes above and beyond what VT Transaction+ offered.
Many accountants who used VT Transaction+ were King Canutes wishing to hold back the tide of Cloud accounting and other modern practices, but tides unfortunately never retreat on command. Such ‘hold outs’ are also fundamentally mistaken, in that everything they were doing with VT Transaction+ was just badly replicating what Cloud accounting software does anyway. Indeed, by using tools such as Dropbox, they were using the Cloud to carry out their work. So why not make the next logical leap and just use purpose-built Cloud accounting software?
Well, the reason is cost. To be blunt, people begrudge paying for something that they think they can work around for free. While as a business person myself I can understand the need to minimise overheads as and when possible, sometimes one cannot avoid the inevitable expenditure that one has to incur to make a business function and comply with sector norms.
In any event, it is wrong to think that accounting software is wildly expensive, difficult to use and an additional burden to your business’s processes and bank balance. Actually, they offer an experience that is the diametric opposite of all those negatives.
For example, from just £10 per month, an accountant can use accounting software that not only replicates the functionality of VT Transaction+, but also easily supersedes it. Not only does most accounting software offer invoice generation that automatically emails the invoice to the customer and posts the bookkeeping transactions, it can generate all the graphs and tables you wish for (or actually need, which in my opinion is much less than some software offers) without cumbersome Excel formulae that invariably and sometimes horribly go wrong along the way.
Additionally, most Cloud-based accounting software is incredibly easy and intuitive to use, and all based on the same platform – in other words, no more downloading, uploading and using multiple programs to achieve a single goal, namely managing someone’s accounts. Modern accounting software is easy to grasp, with the margin of error minimised for both the client and the accountant. By being hosted on the internet, the information is securely stored in a central location where it can be viewed and added to by accountants and the relevant client. Cloud accounting is not some mysterious, insecure threat – accountants who rely on email and generic Cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive are in effect already using the internet. They are just using the internet in an incredibly cumbersome, inefficient and insecure way.
Modern accounting software is more than just software, and arguably more than just accounting. The various additional and automated features that accounting software provides for both accountant and client, such as the aforementioned invoice generation and aged debtors reports, remove costly and time-consuming tasks. Accounting software should always make you more efficient, not less, and by embracing it you’re saving money for your business, and not adding further to your existing overheads.
VT Transaction+ users should not despair; they should welcome this opportunity to modernise their existing practices so they’re fit for purpose in the age of Making Tax Digital.