Accountants need to use OCR and reporting tools: Interview with Amplify Advisors

The most underrated accounting apps available to SMBs and enterprise-level businesses include optical character recognition (OCR) and reporting tools. As part of an interview series we’re running with a range of accounting technologists listed on the Amaka Advisor Directory, we spoke to Jamie Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Experience Officer at Amplify Advisors.

This is number two of five snippets we’ll be releasing over the next couple of weeks with Jamie, exploring the way her team at Amplify have adopted technology across their practice to maximize efficiencies and convert leads. She worked in the accounting profession for about two decades before founding Amplify Advisors. Below, you’ll find the recording of the interview snippet, a summary of key points and the full transcript.

Key points on the most underrated accounting apps

  • Accounting integrations that automate data entry and reporting are key for SMBs
  • OCR apps such as Dext are a quick win to increase margins and avoid having to hire more
  • OCR apps allow you to, “take a picture of an invoice, do the fetching of the emailed PDFs and have automatic journal entries, which reduces data entry significantly”
  • Real-time reporting tools such as Fathom allow you to automate the reporting process and customize reports to each specific need
  • Reading classic financial reports can feel like reading a different language whereas reporting tools can offer all kinds of visual graphs, tables, bullet points, etc.

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Full interview transcript with Amplify Advisors

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

Hi, everyone. My name’s Gian Ottavio. I’m the Strategic Partnerships Manager here at Amaka. Today I’m joined by Jamie Smith, the Co-Founder and CEO of Amplify Advisors. Amplify Advisors is a full service accounting practice and also a growth consulting firm based out of Calgary, Canada.

Jamie’s team at Amplify offers a holistic accounting and finance service ranging from Outsourced CFO, CPA recruitment and consulting to technology and business strategy. They cater for small, medium businesses who typically utilize Xero and QuickBooks, as well as more enterprise-size clients who leverage ERP systems such as NetSuite. So, Jamie, thanks for joining us today.

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Gian Ottavio (Amaka)

All right. So, look, we’re moving to, I guess, the five fireside questions. You serve not only the small medium businesses, but also the enterprise clients. Those two types of clients have very different needs from an accounting perspective and also taxation.

So since starting Amplify, I know you guys would have implemented an array of different technology across the firm. What apps in your time, I guess, of owning Amplify, have you found the most underrated or under-appreciated across the accounting sector?

Jamie Smith (Amplify Advisors)

Yeah, so I would say that if I looked at all sizes of business from small medium to scale up in enterprise, probably in the accounting department, especially the most important apps to a large degree would be your optical character recognition and your financial reporting. So those are the two that I’d have a hard time picking.

So at the small medium level, which I know a lot of a lot of your audience would be focused on are OCR choice is Dext and really that allows us to take, you know, take a picture of an invoice, do the fetching of the emailed PDFs and have automatic journal entries, which reduces data entry significantly.

So when you’re a growing company, if your transactions obviously grow with your revenue and with your costs. And if that means adding a body because there’s more data entry that eats away at your profit very, very quick and it’s not scalable. Right. So OCR is a quick win. It’s incredibly easy to implement. And for our enterprise clients, we also look at OCR options for them and make sure that they’re choosing an app that can integrate with their ERP.

And so there’s a number that integrate with NetSuite that we look at and pick according to the client and then for the clients that are on other ERPs, there’s always options out there as well. So that one’s a quick win and it literally reduces costs because with growth comes more transactions. And if you don’t have to add bodies, you immediately see a cost impact, which is a positive one.

And then the other one is reporting and so our go-to is Fathom. And then within that suite there’s actually dashboards that are real time reporting right within the system. And so both of those allow for visual opportunities to do reporting. And so I always say, you know, if your CEO is an engineer, he or she needs a waterfall graph, right?

If you’re looking at trying to get sales to understand their numbers and what they’re trying to do with their numbers, your chances are you need a visual graph for them. Meanwhile, if you’re talking internally to all our CFOs and all our CPAs, I like a table. I want to see everything in a table. Right? And those are very different things.

And with the right software, which Fathom has, as well as NetSuite’s dashboards, you can take that same data and with a click of a button and show it in a way that’s audience specific, because so often CPAs spend incredible amounts of time doing financial reporting in that classic balance sheet, income statement and cash flow and certainly for credibility and compliance, there are many reasons you can’t stop doing that.

But the actual truth is very few people in business know how to read those statements. And so they are meaningless. And I don’t like to say that because most of my career has been doing meaningless work then. But the reality is that it is like giving someone a book that’s in a language they don’t understand. They don’t get it.

You have to actually put it in a form they understand. So whether it’s a graph, whether it’s KPIs, whether it’s a table, whether it’s a written narrative or bullet points, all of those things have to be on the table for consideration. And you need software to help because if you’re recreating all of that in a PowerPoint that becomes a full-time job very quickly in any decently growing business.

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