The changing landscape of bookkeeping

There is something so refreshing, so challenging and encouraging, about the account of Daniel’s time in Babylon. There are, of course, the memorable chapters of the fiery furnace and the lion’s den, but equally inspiring are verses like this one:

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (Daniel [1:17] ESV)

Granted it may not seem as dramatic as the flames and danger, but is it any less impressive? Here was Daniel (along with his friends) in a very demanding environment – and God provided. Whatever activities Daniel undertook to be advanced in Babylonian culture, the Scripture describes it is as “God gave …”.

What an encouragement – there is nothing outside the scope of God’s provision! Whether a miraculous encounter or learning poetry – God is the one who gives.

And so, as we look briefly at some changing aspects of bookkeeping, we remember that these ‘ordinary’ insights are all part of God’s gifting to us. And we seek God’s help to integrate these wisely into our work.

Well then, what are some aspects of bookkeeping that have developed over the last 10 – 20 years? We’ll look at four.

  1. The introduction of the GST system – as consumers we’re all pretty used to this by now, but it is certainly a big change in Australian taxation history. The introduction of GST meant a new layer of taxation involvement for the typical business. And a cursory look at the GST codes in some standard software show that it’s not quite as simple to implement as we might hope. As a regular touchpoint between the business owner or church and the Australian Taxation Office, GST is now part of our ongoing bookkeeping diet.
  2. Cloud based software – bookkeepers around the globe are benefiting from some terrific advancements in the functionality and accessibility of accounting software. This is no different from any other industry, of course, and there really are some brilliant and affordable options out there for any size of business. But software, cloud or otherwise, is just a tool and needs to be used properly. Even the best software can be confusing for the new user – and as great as the software is, it doesn’t replace the need for care and knowledge, particularly in compliance matters.
  3. Global workforce – along with software advancements, we are seeing a dramatic change in the way a typical workforce can operate. There are many business functions (including bookkeeping) which can be done differently from the traditional office model. Workers all over the world can now be engaged as part of a collaborative operation. From a bookkeeping perspective, this brings both benefits and challenges. The benefits are many: access to a greater pool of help; reducing office overheads; ability to easily switch services on and off; and more economic or affordable labour costs. And the challenges are also many: maintaining good communication systems; addressing issues of security, confidentiality and insurance; and ensuring compliance and quality of work. It’s an interesting time with exciting opportunities to embrace.
  4. Increased regulation – the introduction of the Tax Practitioners Board has brought some additional and welcome regulation to the tax practitioner industry. Without going into all the nitty gritty, one of the things the board does is to administer the registration of BAS Agents and Tax Agents. So, while the term “bookkeeper” is not a regulated title, the term “BAS Agent” (or “Tax Agent”) is. In a changing environment, this gives more insight and protection to businesses when they are engaging someone to help them with their bookkeeping.

More changes will no doubt come, but these are four of the recent biggies. The aim is not to fear the changes, but to be thankful for them – to consider them carefully, and prayerfully chew them over, seeking to incorporate them with wisdom and integrity. And may we, along with Daniel, declare:

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might (Daniel [2:20] ESV)

Today’s post was kindly provided by Ed Johnson. Ed is the founder and owner of Exdia, a bookkeeping and administration service for Churches and small businesses. To find out more visit www.exdia.com.au

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