From its offices in historic Berwick- upon-Tweed just three miles from the Scottish border, J.H. Greenwood & Company serves clients in both England and Scotland. The firm’s own history stretches back nearly forty years, and it
builds on this heritage with an expanding range of business advisory services to meet clients’ changing needs. Principals are also keen to apply technology strategically to improve internal efficiency and build close relationships with clients across the region.
To find new forecasting software to support the firm’s delivery of business advisory services.
IRIS Accountancy Suite KashFlow
IRIS Docs IRIS Insight
Seeking the benefits of a fully integrated
accountancy system, J.H. Greenwood migrated from Sage software to the IRIS Accountancy Suite in 2012.
Since then, the firm has implemented IRIS solutions for compliance, practice management, bookkeeping and document management, but continued using the Sage Winforecast standalone forecasting tool until support for the software was withdrawn.
Principal Gillian O’Dea notes, “Spreadsheets only get you so far: you can’t ask ‘what if’ questions or stress-test your hypothesis. Get one
link wrong and the whole thing crashes. So, when a couple of years ago our previous forecasting product was no longer supported, we just had to find
a viable alternative. We also took the opportunity to explore the market and find a more advanced product, one that could offer the ease and convenience of being cloud-based, with complete flexibility on when and where forecasts can be accessed via the internet.”
Data entered into clients’ KashFlow online bookkeeping software forms the basis
of forecasts produced on IRIS Insight
Together, accountant and client can model different possible futures for the business
IRIS Insight produces forecasts with speed and accuracy, enabling a rapid response to clients’ urgent requests for advice
IRIS Insight offers the convenience of a cloud-based solution, which can be accessed from any location
J.H. Greenwood made a fast, effective start on its new software with help from IRIS
Asking searching questions
J.H. Greenwood makes a point of attending the annual IRIS World conference to keep up to date with product developments and see how other practices are using IRIS. Gillian says, “While at IRIS World, we mentioned our requirement for a forecasting solution that would link to our IRIS accounting software. As luck would have it, IRIS came back to us shortly afterwards to introduce a brand new member of the IRIS family: IRIS Insight!”
Getting started with IRIS Insight went smoothly: “It’s quite straightforward to use, but our first client presented a
particularly complex scenario, with eight branches to their business. We received every help to set them up on our new forecasting software.”
J.H. Greenwood has a diverse client base, ranging from sole traders to large companies. Many are owner-managed. Gillian comments, “I don’t think we’re unusual in finding that clients tend
to overestimate their income and underestimate their outgoings! With the help of IRIS Insight, we can challenge them, asking questions such as, “Why are you spending £30K on computers?”; “Why is your spending on repairs twice as much as you estimated?”; and “You said you were going to do this, but you’ve done that - why?”.
Planning for success
Gillian goes on to observe, “The whole purpose is, of course, to keep the client out of trouble. In the worst case, where a negative situation becomes
entrenched, we can show the client that their business model isn’t working. If the numbers don’t add up and the top line doesn’t cover their expenses, there’s no point avoiding the issue.”
IRIS Insight helps to turn the data into a meaningful message: “When we present the figures from IRIS Insight to them, it can sometimes be a chastening experience. They see how the business is performing in black and white - or rather in colour, as IRIS Insight uses traffic light colour-coding to make the risks and opportunities visible at a glance.”
Happily, it’s not all about aiding clients who are heading into choppy waters.
J.H. Greenwood helps clients to fulfil their growth ambitions: “We can check whether the client’s plans for expansion are grounded in reality, and if IRIS Insight confirms that they are, we can encourage them to plan for success, with sufficient resources. For example, we might suggest that they will need to take on more staff to handle rising order volumes.”
Sourcing funding from the banks One of the IRIS solutions that J.H. Greenwood already had in place was KashFlow online bookkeeping software.
As clients enter their business data into KashFlow, this flows into the firm’s systems, and provides the basis for forecasting, making IRIS Insight a natural extension to KashFlow.
“KashFlow shows where the business stands today, while IRIS Insight models what will happen in the future. Real-time data is key and drawing on the data coming in via KashFlow, we can produce a forecast with impressive speed. Say we’re doing six-month accounts for a client, we can show budgets to actuals for the rest of the year on IRIS Insight at the same time.”
Fast forecasting means that J.H. Greenwood can quickly come to the client’s rescue: “Should a client call me in a panic this afternoon about their overdraft and ask for help, I can turn around a detailed forecast for them by close of play. The categories are all set up: you basically enter the figures and you’re ready to go.”
Accurate, well founded forecasting is also essential to obtaining funding from banks and other sources. Gillian says, “Banks love forecasts! Nowadays, it’s not enough to provide a retrospective set of annual accounts. The bank wants to know how a business is performing today and how it’s likely to perform in the future. With IRIS Insight, it’s easy to provide a variety of forecasts.”
Adding value as a business partner Gillian says,
“Through IRIS tools such as KashFlow and IRIS Insight, we’re able to add value to the client’s business, rather than just being number-crunchers. This positions us as their true partner, helping them to gain and maintain control of their business.”
Since the initial implementation, the firm has expanded its use of IRIS Insight by purchasing more user licences. Gillian concludes, “At J.H. Greenwood, we love helping to companies to grow, and that involves making clients aware of any pitfalls that could trap the unwary, while helping them to identify opportunities, too. Using KashFlow for bookkeeping and IRIS Insight for forecasting supports us in achieving this. It’s good to see IRIS continuing to come up with the goods in meeting our evolving requirements.”