In this ever evolving and challenging global oil and gas market, many SMEs involved in the oil and gas supply chain is having to think wider than their home market if they are to survive.
Many of the issues companies face when setting up a UK business will be replicated in an overseas territory for example: legal matters; recruiting and remunerating local staff; calculating payroll taxes and payroll filings; corporate benefits for staff; taxation of UK staff working overseas; VAT and customs duties; corporate tax reporting and filing accounts. These matters can often seem complicated enough in the UK, but the fear of the unknown often means businesses are put off from expanding overseas.
Another area that often prevents businesses expanding operations internationally is the fear of not having sufficient visibility and control over the overseas operations and finances, particularly if management are not based overseas but are predominantly in the UK looking after UK operations.
Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) business process management software allows organisations to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions. Traditionally, however, even low end ERP systems can cost businesses £20-£50k to implement and £10-£20k per annum for maintenance, making such systems prohibitive for SMEs.
Cloud to the rescue
However, the introduction of low cost subscription, cloud-based, bookkeeping systems with the availability to add on integrated software products can effectively turn your bookkeeping system into an ERP system, that really fits the needs of your business, without the significant cost of a traditional ERP system.
Helping clients choose and implement the right cloud-based bookkeeping system, and add-on software, is one way in which AAB has helped a number of UK SME clients expand overseas, as well as overseas clients looking to enter the UK market. The key point is that, because the software is in the cloud, users can access real-time data from any location, globally, at any time, as long as they have access to the internet.
The cloud also allows business to be undertaken in a paperless fashion. Information such as employee data; payslips; expense claims; purchase orders for materials; supplier invoices; sales quotes; sales invoices; contract documentation etc. can all be sent via (and stored on) the cloud. This means that real-time information can be accessed for an overseas business by key staff located in the UK, and vice versa. For example, a timesheet, purchase order or sales invoice raised in Norway can be accessed, reviewed and authorised here in the UK in seconds.
In addition, financial data such as trade debtors, trade creditors, bank data and cash flow can all be accessed remotely, again in real-time, with the ability to also review back-up source data held in the cloud such as copy invoices etc.
This is a real example where technology truly has made the world a smaller place. So what are you waiting for? Go grab the opportunities that are out there and let the cloud help you manage it all remotely!
Steve Mitchell is Director and Head of Accounting Services at Anderson Anderson & Brown LLP, chartered accountants.