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Since accountancy began, data entry has required some form of manual input.

Thankfully, recent developments in technology, namely cloud accounting software, increasingly means that these requirements are being carried out by some very clever computers.

Not only can this software read and extract data from neat PDF documents, but it can also accurately extract the information from scruffy handwritten expense receipts.

In the few weeks following my trip to AccountEx at London's ExCeL in May, I've been testing out two leaders in the field of expense-automation: Receipt Bank and AutoEntry.

I've been really pleasantly surprised by the results. Not only can this software read and extract data from neat PDF documents, but it can also accurately extract the same information from scruffy handwritten expense receipts.

How does it work?

The gist of the technology is as follows:

  • Take a photo of your expense invoice in the selected mobile app*
  • One click to submit the photos through the app for processing (can do multiple invoices in a single go)
  • The software will extract all of your bookkeeping data, including supplier details, dates, expense types, net and VAT values

It's that simple!

*the software is also available through a desktop-based online account, where you can drag and drop PDF's or photos in bulk. The systems will just sort them out for you!

Link it to Quickbooks or Xero, or a standalone cashbook replacement - it's up to you!

If you're using third party bookkeeping software, such as Xero or Quickbooks, the software will create the supplier account (if not already created) and insert all of your data into the relevant fields, and attach a photo to the transaction to prove the accuracy of the data.

If you're not using third party bookkeeping software, these apps can be used as a standalone replacement to physical cashbooks, or even a replacement for the trusty Excel spreadsheet.

You can also get a bespoke email address, which you use to forward invoices which have been emailed to you. Again, the system will read through the email chain, pick out the invoice, pick out the data, and populate everything for you. It's some kind of techy magic!

Best of all, your electronic data is securely stored in the cloud, and would be suffice for HMRC in the event of a future tax or VAT inspection - much handier than looking through reems of old paper! You save on storage, and have the increased security of knowing your data is backed up by a reputable company.

The potential time savings are immense. You remove the, somewhat dreary, task of inputting figures, and get back to the more important aspects of your business! For us, it gives us the chance to have accurate, up to date information which we can use to work together in figuring out your next business move.

your electronic data is securely stored in the cloud, and would be suffice for HMRC in the event of a future tax or VAT inspection

Needless to say, we're very excited about where this technology is going!

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CRC Accountancy
22 East Road, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1HZ

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CRC Accountancy
22 East Road, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1HZ

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