JEREMY HAGUE (ACMA, CGMA)
Jeremy Hague, from Cloud Accountancy, has recently recommended Re-Leased to one of his key property clients. Thanks to Re-Leased’s integration with Xero, this is becoming a more and more common occurrence. To understand fully the motivations and requirements of our present and potential clients, we asked Jeremy a few quick questions.
It was in a meeting with a regional commercial property consultancy - a large investor and developer - mainly commercial. We were just chatting about a mutual client when they mentioned they were using new software to manage clients’ service charges.
They told me the property management platform was fully integrated with Xero (cloud-based accountancy tool); that platform was Re-Leased.
When a product like this comes recommended by a property professional, I am far more likely to take the time to have a look for myself.
The property side of their business has grown rapidly over the past 3 or 4 years. When they engaged us to work with them, they didn’t have any real systems in place. Initially, we tried putting some spreadsheet based reports in place but, while these worked as a short-term fix, it quickly became apparent that this method was not appropriate as along term solution, ensuring data integrity, as well as updating reports with new figures, was proving difficult to the property focused users.
It became apparent that a ‘proper’, more property-friendly, system was required. This way, the property team would be able to manage each minutia of their portfolio whilst always maintaining good governance with the wider parent charity organisation.
With Re-Leased, all information is stored in one place; this means that, from that one place, everyone can access exactly what they need, exactly when they need it; maximum efficiency. More importantly, the team has access to a singular source of truth.
Because the client was currently managing its accounts on spreadsheets, it was paramount that they be moved onto a robust accounting platform; Xero is the perfect option. When I discovered that we could get Xero alongside Re-Leased, fully integrated together, it was as if the stars were aligning for us.
Put simply, Re-leased ticked all the boxes. More importantly still, the property team like it and understand it; the user-friendly interface means that the team can constantly maintain and update that all important data.
I think these are one and the same. On our end, we are adding great value to the client; in this case, that’s being done through improving their workflows and systems which, together, completely rejuvenate the concept of ‘best practice’.
It is this benefit to the client that is the biggest benefit for us. As a firm, we do not simply focus on our own job creation. If that was our goal, we would have encouraged the use of messy spreadsheets because that system relies heavily on our input and expertise.
Instead, our goal is to make life better for the client; if we do that, it’s job done for us. We become a trusted partner who they are likely to call on for their next project. This type of loyalty and returning business is our ultimate goal and Re-Leased adds enormous value by aiding this.
As well as that, let’s see...direct integration into Xero is saving huge amounts of data entry time; Property and Accounts now see and share the same information which means no more reconciling between what Property thinks and what Accounts thinks; all parties have far better visibility of information; perhaps most significantly, the client now has the robust, integrated finance and property platform that they badly needed (educating them on “needing” this did take some gentle pushing).
Re-Leased automatically does the background processing for finances and then pushes through into Xero. This means that the property user is doing a lot of the financials/accounting for their business without even realising it.
On a side note, the client co-incidentally changed statutory auditor this year, and one comment they received was that they needed a proper finance system......imagine the contented smiles on the director's’ faces when they were able to tell them they were already in the process of implementing both a robust, and integrated, finance and property system!!
This implementation wasn’t primarily about cost reduction or savings, it was about data integrity, visibility of information, and showing robust governance, all of which are very important for Trustees of the parent charity.
By providing the business with a robust system fit for purpose, covering both finance and property, there will be time savings which will encourage a more forward-looking mentality, and less time spent reconciling what happened in the past.
Very good; the entire system up and running in a few weeks.
As with any implementation, the main constraint is how much effort and time the client can spend on it; Re-leased let the property team move at a sensible pace, offering support and encouragement when required.
They provided a good template on which the property team were able to record all of the information to be uploaded to Re-Leased. Integration to Xero was very easy, a lot simpler than I thought, and the Re-Leased team were prompt in answering any queries or solving difficulties. The training provided was good and followed a practical, logical pattern.
The fact that Re-Leased is Cloud based is obviously the big big plus. You can see info in the field and share with others as required.
Similar to some accountants, property professionals can be quite entrenched in traditional, paper-based processes, but the business world is constantly moving on into a more technology driven environment. Those that embrace technology and the benefits of better integration, gain much broader, real-time, knowledge and insight into their businesses. This is a huge competitive advantage.
Also, as Millennials start to come to the forefront, businesses that embrace technology will be better placed to attract and retain key talent.