IFAC (the Irish Farms Accounts Co-operative) was formed in 1975, not long after Ireland joined the EU (then the EEC) and Irish farmers were first required to produce annual accounts and be tax compliant.
IFAC was established on the principles of harnessing accounting technology and best practices, and helping the Irish farming community to be tax compliant, profitable and in control of their finances.
As you might imagine, this is a major undertaking, and IFAC has over 15,000 clients across the country. It needs software that makes data entry more efficient, and is compatible with their bespoke accounting software.
AutoEntry automates data entry, and is used by accountants and SMEs across the world to streamline the processing of receipts, invoices and bank statements.
“We trialled AutoEntry in one office initially,” says Edel Connolly, Bookkeeping Services Manager for IFAC. “Prior to that, everything was manual. We have in-house designed software. AutoEntry is compatible and agnostic, so it sits well with this in-house package
In 2013 we went nationwide with automation. Now, I imagine most offices wouldn’t function without it.”
IFAC offers two levels of service regarding their financial records, one being providing a trained on site bookkeeper, which suits large enterprises; and the other where clients leave their records to the local office annually, suiting smaller or part time enterprises.
“Many clients are agricultural, and they prefer to deal with their accounts annually,” Edel says. “Offices could have hundreds of these clients, and so were investing huge numbers of skilled labour hours doing manual data entry.”
Edel maintains that AutoEntry has been instrumental in fast-forwarding many tasks. In fact, she says “In many cases, 4 hours of data entry was reduced to 4 to 5 minutes. “It’s just allowed for so much productivity. Errors are few and far between and the customer service experience has been great.”
IFAC had 15,000 clients in 2020, so this time-saving has wide-reaching implications.
It also meant that the company’s educated and knowledgeable employees were spending time on more valuable tasks.
Getting buy-in from new staff is easy: “We’d ask trainees to enter data manually at first before introducing them to AutoEntry!” says Edel. We do this to ensure a solid grasp of bookkeeping principals, but also so they can see tangible results in automation and time saved Most staff now are coming to IFAC with degrees, so the quicker they can take cases to higher value work, the better we can utilise our talent.
“Then, with automation, we can put them to higher-value work. It’s a waste of time, expertise and money getting people to do it manually. And they’re very much on board [with automation]: Staff would leave now if they had to revert to manual entry!”
Automation also changes the conversation with clients. “Time is now spent advising,” says Edel. “And an advisor should be spending their time on planning and reviewing; not looking where a lodgement came from.”
The conversation, so, is not spent talking about the filing of events that happened in the past; but on current and future dangers and opportunities. Or as Edel puts it: “This efficiency lets us look at the client's present year, not the previous one.”
Anthony Mulligan, business development officer, UKI, for AutoEntry, said: “IFAC has a huge roster of clients, so, naturally, they can't afford to lose out on countless hours of manual data entry. I am delighted we've been able to help them grow by automating all of their data entry and look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship."
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