Accountants need data engineering and business intelligence skills: Interview with aVers

There’s a growing expectation for accountants to have basic skills in data engineering and business intelligence (BI). Typically, this involves understanding how to pull multiple data points in A to B in real-time and then being able to explain this data to clients. In doing so, accountants help their clients make the most of data apps and integrations.

As part of an interview series we’re running with a range of accounting technologists listed on the Amaka Advisor Directory, we spoke to Nick Dorogavtsev, Data Engineer & Accountant at aVers Cloud Solutions. This is number two of three snippets discussing the growing importance of data and software in the accounting profession.

Below, you’ll find the recording of the interview snippet, a summary of key points and the full transcript.

Key points on data engineering and BI for accountants

  • The team at aVers start with Xero at the core and work to make real-time data from all sources flow into it reliably
  • Accountants need to understand the basics of data engineering to some extent in order to understand how data flows from A to B
  • However, the role of an accountant can’t just stop at this point, there needs to be the responsibility of controlling the data, maintaining it and turning it into BI
  • Every additional app/integration comes with its own set of benefits but does the client really understand how to leverage it all? Accountants need to explain the BI to clients
  • aVers uses Amaka’s Data Studio integrations to simplify the process of gathering the data and being data engineers
  • From there, they have more time to dissect the data, figure out whether seasonality is affecting the cash flow, or referrals from Instagram are increasing sales, etc.

Full interview transcript with aVers Cloud Solutions

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Hey everyone. Today I am joined by Nick Dorogavtsev from aVers Cloud Solutions. aVers Cloud Solutions is a 100% cloud based bookkeeping practice that also specializes in cash flow management for small and medium businesses. Nick has over ten years of experience in the field as a certified data engineer. Combining his passion for accounting to deliver A-class cash flow visualization reports to clients.

Nick, thanks for joining us today.

Nick Dorogavtsev (aVers Cloud Solutions)

Thank you. A pleasure to be here.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

You said you have multiple different dashboards up and running and showing you your different clients and how they’re performing, not from the financial, but also sometimes on a process level perspective. That’s something that I’m actually keen to dig a bit more deeper on. So I know you’ve had over ten years of experience in this field, have you seen a shift in the hands on nature of these decision makers?

Do you feel that now they are more interested in the data and more interested in visualization tools that help them understand what’s happening on their behalf within their business? Because a lot of the accounting practices I’ve spoken to right, they’re moving beyond the archaic mold of accounting work and bookkeeping work and tax preparation to now also include, you know, advisory functions, which are a byproduct of having access to, you know, cash flow forecasting and data visualization tools.

Do you see this as a result of, you know, the demand of small business owners?

Nick Dorogavtsev (aVers Cloud Solutions)

Yes, because they see that it’s possible and software installed any type of software. They show all these groups and beautiful pictures and they try to engage with the emotional side because the majority of our decision making, when we buy something, it’s emotion, not logic behind it. But we all make decisions on the emotional level.

Yeah. So when that is purchased they then start to imagine things that software is not providing. And this in majority of cases is the swap that they had in their hand but they could never actually see. Yes. Point of sale systems provide you with a lot of visualization and a lot of reports and a lot of things. However, it’s only one point of sale or two points of sales or all points of sale.

But it’s not all of your business, correct? There’s more to the business than general sales. So there’s a lot of things that are involved. So here we are again trying to replace that part and make it happen. And for ten years I’ve been facing the same problem. So we started with Xero and we’ve always been working with Xero.

And this idea of real-time data was always not achieved because something is delayed constantly but slowly we made it work. And in addition to restrictions within the technology itself, which is slowly solvable, you get these gaps in the processes within the business and shift in the responsibility. So yes, this need for real-time data or data itself and reliable data is huge.

However, the process of going into the mode as an advisor and saying if a data is entered properly, it’ll be easy, that needs to be murdered because that is so not true nowadays. Yeah. Who now is taking the responsibility of controlling it and introducing the processes and explaining to the business and making sure that it’s flowing from A to B?

This is more important than just, okay, this is the dashboard, this is your visitors from Instagram and this is your number of deals that you will see. Yeah. And each of these elements even the visits from Instagram and then the client goes okay or what kind of visits. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. If I go from my phone and click it on the app and then I go to the computer, is that two visits or is that one?

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Yeah. Was it unique? How detailed is the visit? What’s the click through? Yeah.

Nick Dorogavtsev (aVers Cloud Solutions)

Yeah. Then you go a little bit further. Okay. Well within our sales process, you know, we have all these visits, but why are we billing only this amount? Yeah.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

What page are they clicking off at?

Nick Dorogavtsev (aVers Cloud Solutions)

So what’s happening in between. Yeah. So it might not be even a page, it might be something else because you might have self-service so you cannot track the whole thing. Are there any mechanisms in between? Then to financial sort of things. What is actually happening and how is it happening with purchasing stock or purchasing whatever software it’s related to? Because everything, every new piece of software comes with a huge benefit in the majority of cases.

But does the business owner really understand the advantages and how they leverage? Yeah, no, definitely. So I’m not trying to overcomplicate things. What I’m trying to say is that we now have these gaps that are empty, that they are automated, but there is no one to educate and tell the client what is actually going on in the client themselves.

In the majority of cases they don’t care because at the end of the day, if their sales go up, they start to care when something goes wrong and when something goes wrong, it goes.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Yep, yeah. For sure.

Nick Dorogavtsev (aVers Cloud Solutions)

Yep. So I think it’s a huge step and I was so glad to see that you guys started to do this little Data Studio integrations, for example. This is very important because I extract out the three API, I can connect to the API, I can run a code, I can extract it. I know exactly how frequently it’s updated, etc. However, the majority of accountants and they wouldn’t come and they really should.

And I would rather prefer not to. It’s much more cost effective for me to get a service like yours, get that data in. I know the ins and outs of it. And actually during the few integration processes that I had with you guys, I ask questions and the majority of sales teams, they can not provide you with the answers that you guys do because they are so focused on this emotional path.

Yes. I want to know the nitty gritty. Yeah. I want to know that this data is updated every 12 hours or every hour or every 15 minutes. What is actually happening? Yeah, what kind of so but basically, at any given point of time, you need to know that if someone pushes a button on that end, how fast it gets to the report.

Yeah. And now we have layers of things that are going in between. It’s very hard to tell if someone is making the decision based on the data that it’s flowing through. That needs to be clearly explained. And someone who advises on it needs to understand it. So the accounting paradigm is changing a lot because accountants are the ones who are taking over this role.

And my big message is you don’t need to be an IT specialist, you don’t need to be a programmer, you don’t need to be a data engineer, but you need to learn a little bit about data engineering. Yeah, and learn how that data flows through because when a client asks you or why on your cash flow prediction, there is a little bump here and you need to be able to explain that it’s the seasonality and it uses the data in this particular way from the previous period.

So it’s expecting so it will go up, maybe not to the exact formula, how it’s done, even though that’s what would be demanded by an engineer, for example, it was big thing when a whole calculation, for example, done and we used to do it by hand from beginning till the end of this system that is installed somewhere. But now, you know, software is used in real life and a lot of engineers in my generation start to come in for us.

Just a push button and someone old again. No. You will tell me what happened between here and here and here and here. Not because I’m picky. In some cases your life will depend on it. Yeah, no, let me deal with financial data.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

No, that’s exactly the point that I was actually going to lead to right. Accountants shouldn’t need to become data engineering specialists, but they definitely need to have a basic level of understanding. And I think it’s something, as you mentioned, that’s the current gap in the industry because the shift towards technology has been so rapid and the time in which accountants, bookkeeping professionals had to have had to adopt, learn and master these unique skill sets hasn’t really been available to them.

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