It’s not often that you see a huge supplier to your business sector subliminally promoting you. Maybe that’s stretching the facts but I was amused to see a recent post on the Sage One blog titled: TrustMark.

TrustMark is a Government backed quality scheme that is intended to signpost people to reputable local firms and expert tradespeople working to Government-endorsed standards.

Why am I referencing TurstMark here? Partly because I found the post on the SageOne blog, partly because it sounds like an encouragement to recognise my integrity but primarily because of an analogy that I hope you’ll find useful.

It seems that TrustMark was launched 10 years ago, which means I should have come across it previously. I’d have thought I would remember, but it seems not. I would imagine that there was a bit of a fuss about it when it was launched. Since then it has been partly superseded by better known and better funded alternatives eg: Checkatrade, TrustedTraders and TrustaTrader – even though they are all quite different.

Something similar has happened in the world of bookkeeping and accounting software. I read recently that Sage has reached 100,000 Sage One subscriptions in the UK. Few of the alternative suppliers have the same pedigree and yet we often hear more about them than we do about Sage. Why is that I wonder?

I’m not a tech blogger as you know. My focus is on helping individual accountants (and other professionals) to STAND OUT from their competitors, from their peers and from the crowd. The accounting and bookkeeping software houses have to do this too. I imagine they all seem pretty interchangeable at first glance. But I understand that there are some quite significant differences in terms of functionality, price, support, ease of use (for you and for clients) and all sorts of other factors.

If you have yet to choose a preferred solution you need to be careful to avoid simply following the herd. What suits other small practitioners may not be ideal for you and your client base.

Indeed there are plenty of accountants who are, effectively, software agnostics. They are happy to use different software for different clients. If this approach resonates, what will be your policy when you learn that a prospective new client uses a bookkeeping package that is new to your practice? Is there a limit as to how many different packages you will allow your clients to use?

Now that you have the facility to run these programmes in the cloud one key reason for limiting the number of different packages has gone. Cloud based software doesn’t require you to install regular or even annual updates. In theory therefore there is no need to limit the number of different packages that clients use. That is unless you have learned from experience or from other accountants of limitations and irritants that you wish to avoid.

But I am now in danger of over stretching my ability to comment on these systems. I like to limit myself to those topics about which I can speak with some authority – whether on my blog, in workshops or on conference stages.

Three years ago I spoke at the Sage Accountants Roadshow on the #FutureOfAccounting. The focus of my presentation was how accountants can use social media. As ever, I debunked some of the hype (much of which exists to this day). I love doing this and my enthusiasm for doing so probably comes across even stronger now than it did in 2013.

I used an analogy back then comparing social media to a car. I suggested that some accountants who start using social media are like people who get into car and try to drive without first understanding anything about the clutch and the gearstick. It wouldn’t be a very comfortable journey and might well put one off driving. Many accountants who try out social media are in much the same position. They don’t find it useful or helpful, principally because they have bought into the hype but don’t really understand what they are doing.

Does the same sort of thing happen with some cloud based bookkeeping and accounting packages? As we move into 2016 I suspect that we will hear more about which suppliers we can really trust. What do you think?

This blog post was kindly sponsored by SageOne.