What the Death of Data Entry Means for Accountants

Imagine that a new client comes to you with “the dreaded shoebox” of bank reconciliations, receipts, and bills.  The client is a year or so behind, and you are hired to get them caught up.  Do you take that client, knowing you’ll be swamped doing data entry for weeks at a low hourly rate?

The good news is it doesn’t have to take weeks anymore.  And even better, you don’t have to charge a low rate for data entry.   Your “shoebox” client is now a profitable client that would be worth adding to any accounting firm’s book of business.  What’s the secret?

The secret to turning weeks of data entry into mere hours is a hot software tool called ScanWriter, which was created by the folks at Personable, Inc.    For a client that is a year behind, all you have to do is scan in the 12 months’ of bank statements, select the bank from the thousands of templates provided by ScanWriter, code a few of the transactions to get ScanWriter “primed,” and ScanWriter pretty much does the rest.  What previously took weeks literally takes hours, with no exaggeration.

This is big news for several reasons:

  • Data entry truly is dying, which is great because it was the boring part of accounting anyway.
  • When small businesses do not have to pay so much for data entry, they can afford more important services like analytics, cash flow help, and other higher level consulting services from you.
  • If you are not up to speed with changes in data entry technology, you should make this type of training a priority.
  • If you are billing hourly, you will need to change the way you bill when you offer data entry services that are leveraged by these technology tools.
  • If you are not comfortable offering higher level services to your small business clients, then this is a training priority for you.

This is a lot of change for most accountants, especially if you are hearing this message for the first time.

Step One:  Get the Technology Training You Need

The first step should be to become familiar with ScanWriter or a similar data entry automation tool.  ScanWriter works with QuickBooks clients, and here is a quick video introduction:


You can also schedule a private demo by calling (800) 688-4281 during Pacific Time business hours.

Step Two:  Change Your Pricing

Once you’ve tried ScanWriter on a couple of clients, you will have some pricing history.  You should include not only the cost of the ScanWriter software in your hourly rate but also an increase in your rate to compensate for the reduced hours you will spend doing the work.  Accountants that are already offering fixed monthly pricing or value pricing will be comfortable including the cost of ScanWriter in their package pricing.

You will recover your investment and training time in ScanWriter fairly quickly.  Many accountants recover their ScanWriter investment in the first month of using it.  Personable has a partner program you can look into for even greater savings on their products.

Your pricing should be a triple win:  for the client, it should be lower overall than the old-fashioned way of doing data entry; for you, there should be a fair profit for your time and expertise; and for Personable, Inc., makers of ScanWriter, there should also be a fair profit for the development and improvement of the ScanWriter product.

Step Three:  Add Real Value for Small Businesses

Small business owners will always have limited budgets for accounting services, and most of the time, the budget is eaten up by compliance work.  You might find small business owners resistant to spending more on accounting, but it’s simply because they are drowning in regulatory work with no margin left over for anything else.

Once data entry costs start to go down, some of your savvier small business clients will be willing to redirect those costs to consultative work that includes improving their reporting, performing margin analysis, and increasing cash flow.  As soon as they start to experience the benefits of your consulting in this area, they will be hooked.  You’ll experience less price-resistance in the future, and the small business owner will start to see improved performance.

Getting Started:  Select Your First Client 

Starting out with the right client can make all the difference in the world.   Look for clients or prospects that are paper-intensive, have a high volume of transactions that need to be entered into QuickBooks on a regular basis, or are months or years behind in recording their accounting transactions.   Ask for their permission to try something new, and once you get it, you can start using ScanWriter to save you both time and money.

The death of data entry is already here, and now it’s up to you.  Start making the changes you need to stay competitive and profitable in your business.