As the lockdown starts to ease, a major focus will be on supporting local SMEs and businesses, not just in areas like hospitality and retail but right across the board.
With the CSO finding that almost nine in ten (89.4 per cent) of responding enterprises were trading at the end of May, it shows that businesses are determined to overcome the pandemic’s challenges.
For many, overcoming it has required a helping hand and some have stepped up to help ease that burden.
“We’ve been as flexible as a company as we could,” said Marc O’Dwyer, CEO of Irish accounting software solution Big Red Cloud. “We’ve been conscious of the fact that business owners are under serious pressure and we try to take as much of that pressure off them with our simple and easy to use accounts and payroll.”
“That’s why we’re here to support those customers.”
It’s been an incredibly busy period for the service, having to keep up with the various changes and demands placed on the payroll since the lockdown began. As Big Red Cloud is Irish-owned and based, it’s familiar with many of the minute details that make up the Irish tax system.
Something O’Dwyer wants SMEs to be careful of is trusting the type of accounting firm that may be based in another country or originated there. That can cause them to overlook details about the Irish tax system.
The difference between knowing tax laws and regulations and understanding them can be a finer point than the average business would initially think.
“[Usually] they haven’t catered for things like reverse charge VAT or VAT on a cash receipts basis,” he said. “They’re common enough requirements for businesses that we deal with on a daily basis.”
“I don’t want Irish business owners to be clouded by the fact that these foreign owned firms can sometimes miss the finer detail of Irish tax requirements.. They need to know we’re all in this together, we need to grow this economy together and by supporting local Irish companies like ourselves, that’s the way we’re going to do it.”
It’s not just being based in another country that can be an issue, it also means that Irish money will be going into those countries instead of Ireland’s tax base. It might seem small, but with the country in an unprecedented scenario, those little actions can make a huge difference.
In Big Red Cloud’s case, it’s been around for 27 years and is in a strong position to continue that good form. Initially, it had braced itself for a downturn in business. Instead, it has recorded a strong second quarter with July sales already going over 25 per cent of its target.
It’s a major vote of confidence for the organisation which has put in significant work during this period.
“We’re a solid company and the fact that we’ve broken targets over the downturn is proof of the strength that we have in our customer base and the loyalty we have from them,” he said. “The fact that we’re here to support them and we have the products that match what their requirements are is a major benefit.”
Much of the work Big Red Cloud has done for customers focuses on both usability and accessibility. O’Dwyer mentions that it had to rewrite its product 22 times since March 13 to accommodate government initiatives like the temporary wage subsidy scheme.
Much of this involved its team listening to updates from the Revenue Commissioners through the Irish Payroll Association, which it is a member of. What were daily updates have become more sporadic as things began to settle.
While Big Red Cloud was not obliged to make all the changes to their payroll, it did. Taking this approach involves a lot of work and effort, but it did it to help customers who already have extra stress to deal with in the form of reduced trading and factoring in extra safety measures.
“Rather than putting the burden of the work back onto the employer with their payroll package, we’ve written the requirements back into our software to make the process much easier for them,” he said.
“Some of our competitors decided not to act and left the burden of the calculations fall on the employers’ shoulders, but we took on the challenge ourselves.”
Other schemes involve moving licences for Big Red Book, its desktop accounting software which can only operate on a specific PC with a licence, from offices to home. It re-licensed its software onto accountants’ home PCs to accommodate remote working.
Similarly, many of the features and benefits it offers is functionality which has been worked on for years and matches competing solutions more than adequately. On top of its SaaS (software-as-a-service) offering, Big Red Cloud is constantly updating its features with new developments, creating ways to remove a lot of the manual administration involved with day-to-day accounting within a business.
“We’ve got an automatic purchases importer which is now available, and we’re about to launch our bank feed [within the next two weeks],” O’Dwyer said. “It means that all your bank transactions will be automatically sucked into Big Red Cloud, it saves you a huge amount of time, and reduces errors and administration in doing your bank reconciliation. That’s a huge feature.”
Alongside an increase in sales of its SaaS service, Big Red Cloud also been experiencing a large increase in queries on its support line. By offering things like local Irish telephone support – something none of its competitors offers – it gives greater flexibility and choice for businesses that they can get help in the way that they prefer.
“We’re constantly working on different features, we’re updating the back-end database that you wouldn’t necessarily see in the front end, making it faster and more secure,” O’Dwyer said. “We’re constantly using technology to make the mundane day-to-day processing of accounts faster, slicker, more efficient and less prone to errors.”
“Remember, Big Red Cloud is 100 per cent Irish, and now more than ever we need to support Irish businesses.”