The need to keep the risk of data loss to a minimum while exploring opportunities for iterative yet responsible innovation. Founded by CPAs Steve Himmelman and Scott Veinot, Bookco Virtual Accounting puts cloud technology to work to ease the accounting burden on business owners and CPAs.

Himmelman and Veinot founded Bookco in an effort to solve personal business challenges. Before they started Bookco, each ran their own accounting practices.

“We offered year-end work as well as control for higher work from our practices,” Himmelman says. “But the bookkeeping just killed us. We struggled to find consistent bookkeepers. We had a hard time managing workflows. So, when cloud-based technology came along, we both jumped on it, and that’s when we started talking about joining forces.”

From their base in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, the duo has built a thriving accounting practice. Bookco now offers battle-tested, 100% virtual bookkeeping and controller services to over 100 accounting firms and business owners across Canada.

The Bookco team eventually carved out a unique niche in the market. In addition to comprehensive bookkeeping services, they assist clients in optimizing their processes to ensure the accounting process works smoothly from end to end. More recently, they started helping clients prepare for CRA audits by assessing and identifying risky processes or gaps in process efficiencies.

Himmelman and Veinot are discerning about the software and apps they introduce into their accounting tech stack. Veinot says that accounting, by nature, is a highly regulated industry, and when you’re dealing with both private and public entities, both local and international as we do, we need to keep the potential for risk to an absolute minimum. 

Financial professionals who handle PII (personally identifiable information) must abide by certain standards and data protection policies, such as GDPR, CCPA, PIPEDA, and more. “When we’re considering new apps, we’re looking for a high level of control, but we also want to ensure that those controls are effective. Interoperability is another important factor. For example, does the app integrate easily with QuickBooks?” 

Currently, Bookco’s software suite includes QuickBooks, Rewind Backups for QuickBooks OnlineHubDoc and Plooto.

Taking the risk out of cloud migration

Bookco isn’t a typical bookkeeping firm; it comes in on an operational level. That means the Bookco team doesn’t just necessarily work with a business owner, financial manager or an external accountant; much of their work involves extended teams.

And that introduces a level of risk. Himmelman says that at any one time, multiple people have access to databases, which means it’s vital that every database is backed up. “We knew that backup is one area where we couldn’t rely solely on QuickBooks’ native functionality. As with many cloud-based systems, the only way to back it up is to download Excel files within a specific timeframe. That’s why we decided to invest in Rewind for backup.”

Before deploying Rewind, the Bookco team would need to set time aside to routinely run several standard sets of reports every month. Having Rewind as part of Bookco’s tech stack also helps put clients at ease when they are transitioning from an on-premises accounting solution to cloud-based software.

“When we first sit down with a new client, we’ll explain the many benefits of cloud-based accounting, but we’re also always transparent about its inherent risks,” Veinot says. “When questions arise regarding data integrity, ownership, and potential loss, we can provide our clients with the assurance that we have a robust third-party backup solution in place.”

“When questions arise regarding data integrity, ownership, and potential loss, we can provide our clients with the assurance that we have a robust third-party backup solution in place.” — Scott Veinot, Partner, Bookco Virtual Accounting Inc.

Himmelman says Rewind also ensures all parties have complete visibility of every database. “If something changes, we can go see who changed it and, if necessary, change it back to a specific point in time. What’s great about Rewind is that it’s separate from QuickBooks. It runs on different servers, is independent, and adds that extra layer of protection. And it’s also so easy to use.” 

Unleashing innovation

Rewind is also an extra arrow in Bookco’s quiver when it comes to helping clients experiment and innovate—minus the risk.

“We’ve used Rewind on several occasions when we’ve tried new apps,” Veinot says. “Now, we’re using it with a client for whom we’re setting up a completely new invoicing process. QuickBooks’ sandbox is okay, but it’s only really good for preliminary tests.”

Veinot says that once you get to the point where you want to test out an app and show it to a client, you need to do it in QuickBooks. “With Rewind, we can experiment at will, and if we’re not 100% happy with the way something’s looking or working, we can just go back and start again in under 30 seconds. Rewind just works. It does exactly what we want when we want it.” 

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Insightful Accountant