Supporting Howard & Co Accountants LLP – by supporting their client
The close relationship between us and our practice clients means that we have deep conversations about their direction of travel, and their clients. In this case study, Howard & Co managing partner Marc Howard explains how working with AdvanceTrack brought about an opportunity for us to help his client through an accounting tech migration.
Tell us about you and your practice
Marc: Howard & Co has been in existence for 40 years, founded by my father Tony Howard. He forged on his own for quite some time before I joined him 15 years ago. I’d come out of Deloitte’s grad scheme and wanted to support what is a local firm. We operate as a general practice; accounts, VAT, personal tax and bookkeeping. We look after family-run businesses, limited companies, sole traders and beyond – it’s a wide client base.
How would you describe the world that your practice and its clients are facing?
Marc: The accountancy industry is facing large-scale change; most of it positive. There is an abundance of technology available, but it does require our end-clients to also be tech-savvy and using systems that we can link and interact with. And with MTD for Income Tax Self-Assessment around the corner, we need to push on with our own digitisation.
We want to get ahead of the curve, but that means clients have to be as well – it’s both a technology and a human challenge.
What problem did your client need solving?
Marc: Our client had been an early adopter of cloud accounting technology, but their existing tech wasn’t fit for future purpose. We’ve been focused on assessing and improving the client’s gross margin. They operate in web development so they’re effectively selling time, through various projects. The software they were using wasn’t able to sufficiently manage and track multiple ongoing sources of work.
They took the decision, on our advice, to improve their project management capability by bringing in Xero as a platform.
Why did you approach AdvanceTrack to help?
Marc: We were looking for someone to help as data migration is outside our skill set – and AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth was endorsed by Xero; we’re doing everything we can to funnel our practice through Xero as much as possible.
Xero’s platform had the capability and would provide all the reporting that our client, and us as their advisers, would need. But how would we get from product A to product B? We all needed the pain to be very short. There would be some re-learning for the client, but the value and benefits would come through.
We brought in AdvanceTrack because we wouldn’t be able to simply end and begin everything again in the new system. We needed the data going backwards in Xero, not just the financials going forward – this was too technical and complex for us to deal with in-house.
How did AdvanceTrack help the client solve its problem?
Marc: After our initial chat with Vipul, describing what the problem was and the challenge to overcome, he took the time to chat through how AdvanceTrack’s team could get over the hurdles, and he gave us timescales and processes.
Vipul then allowed me to query him – it seemed a workable solution. He then invited me to a second call, but this time with my client present – which was really good – and he helped put the client at ease. We agreed the process and timescales.
AdvanceTrack gave us advice on how to tidy up the migrating files, and on an agreed date we stepped away from the software for a couple of days. Vipul’s team began the migration.
The next critical point was the client using the software. We were given access to AdvanceTrack’s portal to gauge the job, and had a contact within AdvanceTrack’s customer service team. It was so smooth, there was minimum input from me, just some confirmations on a couple of bits of data. We were then notified we were ready to get going.
We were given a list of things to check and double-check, which we did. My team then went into the client info first to review it, before signing the job off as done. It was seamless.
AdvanceTrack also gave us a period of mediation if we found any issues – another nice safety net. We gave the thumbs-up and then we just had to orientate the client with some training. Of course, it can be a major headache for a client to change software: ‘will everything be there how I like it, and how do I use it?’ But, after an afternoon of training, the client was off and running.
My firm is now better placed to provide our client with more up-to-date financials, and we can provide better and more timely client advice.
Does your client need help moving data to the cloud? Get in touch with the AdvanceTrack cloud team.