The Best Practices of Bookkeeping: Old Ways vs. NewWhen it comes to the best practices of bookkeeping, have we truly arrived at the pinnacle of our professional development?

As modern bookkeepers, you might think that we would complain about the “old ways” being exclusively terrible and that “new” bookkeeping methods are all magically wonderful! Not necessarily… we can admit that there are some things about old-school bookkeeping we feel nostalgic for and that modern bookkeeping theory has a few things that could be improved upon.

Here’s a quick summary of the good, the bad and the ugly of bookkeeping practices, both old, super old and new.

Ye Olde Bookkeeping Methods (Super Old-School)

What we miss:

  • Using paper ledgers (some people like to write things out and that’s still okay!)
  • Using abacus or old mechanical calculators (abacuses are fun to play with)
  • Only needing an eraser to fix things

What we don’t miss:

  • Lousy handwriting (imagine having a doctor as a client!)
  • Lots of cigarette smoking (can you believe that used to happen?)
  • Locking away the files in your desk and losing the key (bad, unless you’re moonlighting as a locksmith).

Bookkeeping Not That Long Ago

All of this was terrible:

  • Unreliable bookkeeping software (early versions of Visicalc, PeachTree and Quicken – before the name was sold by Intuit and they introduced QuickBooks in 1998)
  • Backing up to tapes or discs, and forgetting to (especially terrible if you forgot to save and the power goes out)
  • Computer freezes and crashes
  • Can’t make changes without journal entries (oh, come on!)
  • Updating software regularly (good), but SO time consuming
  • Forgetting your simple password and having no way to retrieve it (besides asking your spouse when your anniversary is and getting into big trouble)

Bookkeeping Now

The awesome stuff:

  • Everything saved in the cloud (additional $, but reliable and accessible!)
  • Memorized transactions (awesome!)
  • Transfers to Excel (essential!)
  • Copy & paste function (great, as long as you remember, is this the most recent update?)
  • Software does the calculating (good for lazy people)
  • Forgetting Version “P” of your standard password (understandable)
  • Remote Access (fantastic!)

Stuff that can use some improvement:

  • Apparently “anybody” can do it (if you subscribe to this, when you call us 2 weeks before your year-end we won’t say ‘I told you so’, but we will think it)
  • Cloud Server or internet is down (temporarily inconvenient)
  • Bookkeeping is “super easy” now, according to ads (don’t believe the hype!)

Bottom line: while we don’t really miss the old days of endless paper and calculating everything manually, there’s a lot more to modern bookkeeping than subscribing to a new software program. Even the best applications require intelligent entry and analysis. And when a you use accounting software, someone still needs to know when to sound the alarm when a financial issue needs attention.

A true bookkeeping partner makes accurate entries, track down errors and heroically organize your clients’ files. And they are really, really good at delivering financial records, ready to go. Contact us if you’re ready to take your business to the next level.