Klang Valley’s cloud accounting evangelist helps SMEs prosper

Caltrix helps Malaysian SMEs navigate the world of digital tools to optimize work processes

Digital transformation is on the rise, with many businesses pivoting over the course of the pandemic. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the cloud computing market in South-East Asia is expected to reach US$40.32 billion by 2025.

However, this was not always the case. Less than a decade ago, people were still wary of using the cloud. “Many were worried about security issues and about making themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks,” said Alfred Ang, Founder and CEO of Malaysian cloud accounting firm Caltrix.

“But in today’s increasingly digital world, more people are starting to realize the benefits that cloud services hold in helping them to efficiently run their businesses and better serve customers,” added Ang.

For businesses looking to get their head in the cloud, navigating the world of digital transformation can be challenging at first. This is where accounting firms like Caltrix come in.

As an expert in cloud accounting services and integrated cloud solutions, Caltrix is ​​a lean outfit which focuses on helping SMEs kickstart their move towards digital transformation.

A former desktop accounting software distributor, Ang discovered Xero’s cloud accounting software as early as 2015. It was also then that he foresaw how the cloud would play a critical role in the future of businesses. “One of the pain points faced by most businesses in Malaysia back then, including that of my own business, was the lack of access to real-time data,” he shared.

“We had a team managing our finances, but I also ran the sales function. Being frequently on the go, I wasn’t able to access important business data when I needed it. A lot of things were done manually, resulting in repetition and redundant work.,” he explained.

(pic) A self-professed “Cloud Accounting Evangelist”, Ang is passionate about championing tools like Xero to help SME owners take control of their finances.

Ang credits Xero for having helped his business to operate more effectively. “With Xero, all of our invoicing was done online with team members accessing the necessary data and information on a single platform,” he said.

His experience with Xero soon propelled his interest in helping other SME business owners discover the benefits of cloud accounting. “If I faced these problems, I knew that other SMEs would also be having similar problems, especially if they related on numbers to make decisions. Having access to accurate, real-time data is vital for decision making.”

In 2018, Ang started Caltrix from scratch to promote cloud accounting to SMEs, and Xero was his first choice. Today, Caltrix serves over 100 SMEs and start-ups across Malaysia.

Caltrix is ​​a Xero Gold Partner which Ang equates to “credibility and trust”. In addition to a marketing fund, Xero also provides support through dedicated account managers and specialized tools and resources to help partners grow their practice.

“We also receive advice from our account manager on digital marketing and how we can reach out to new customers. Normally, I would need to upskill or brush up on these areas by myself. But Xero goes the extra mile to help.”

When it comes to learning resources, Ang points to the Xero Central platform, which is home to many Xero support articles and learning material to help with answering customer queries. “Partners are also able to interact with other Xero users, contribute to the community discussions and benefit from being part of a wider Xero community,” Ang noted.

Spreading the word

Work for Ang these days is brainstorming with business owners to understand their businesses better, mapping out a digitalization roadmap and working towards ensuring successful cloud accounting implementation that suits their unique needs.

Ang says that for customers in Malaysia, Xero provides scalability, which is important – you can add unlimited team members and integrate with numerous other apps in the Xero app ecosystem, including Hubdoc and Xero Expenses. “The good thing about Xero’s connectivity is that these apps work seamlessly with Xero to provide clients with an end-to-end cloud solution.”

He shares that Xero is much more intuitive and user-friendly than other softwares he has encountered in the market. “It is easy for us to guide our clients to review their reports. Even someone with little accounting knowledge would be able to navigate the platform.”

Additionally, Xero’s direct bank feed with BizChannel@CIMB means that daily transactions are automatically pushed into Xero the next working day at 2pm, giving a real-time view of cash flow, he added.

With Xero, one can also review and filter reports by tracking category and category options to see the performance of different areas of the business. “Xero’s new report feature doesn’t just provide a profit and loss (P&L) overview, it also categorises transactions to help customers understand their financial numbers,” noted Ang.

One of Caltrix’s clients, water heater and filter manufacturer WaterHippos, faced the challenge of logging their sales invoices and payments accurately from their customer relationship management (CRM) software to Xero. The process required thorough testing to ensure functionality between systems.

“We consulted with the client and helped them seamlessly integrate Xero into their CRM software,” shared Ang.

Another eCommerce client Trapo Asia faced the challenge of integrating sales from multiple channels into their cloud-based inventory software to manage and track stock. Caltrix helped implement Xero with other key business apps such as Shopify, a cloud POS system and cloud document management – all fully integrated with Xero.

CALTRiX has a physical office in Selangor, but most of its work is done remotely, although team members occasionally meet up to bond.CALTRiX has a physical office in Selangor, but most of its work is done remotely, although team members occasionally meet up to bond.

With Ang and his team operating remotely, about 15-20% of the time is saved without the need to travel to visit their customers onsite. “We have the tech for them to submit all their documents online, and we can see it in a few minutes on our system. With Xero being on the cloud, it also helps to facilitate collaborative interactions with our customers beyond the Klang Valley to Singapore and Thailand.”

Support every step of the way

To help customers make the most of their newly implemented ‘tech stack’, Caltrix provides training to support its customers. The approach involves three stages comprising the initial setup required before going into operational functions like accounting, as well as generating and customizing of financial reports, as part of the integration process.

“This way, we can ensure their progress along the way and help with issues as they arise,” Ang shares.

Ang says that the change management process is an ongoing process of feedback and dialogue between Caltrix and its clients. “Before we implement Xero, we will consult with our clients to understand their business needs and goals before coming up with suitable financial solutions best fit for their needs. We also do regular check-ins with our clients to fine-tune processes in the technology implementation, so everything fits well with Xero.”

As businesses continue to adapt to the new normal and digitalise, Ang is optimistic about the proliferation of cloud technology in the Malaysian SME market. He plans to continue educating and supporting SMEs in unlocking the full benefits of cloud accounting. “Ultimately, we want our clients to make the right investment in cloud accounting. And we have no doubt that Xero will be there to help us create a positive impact on SMEs in Malaysia.”

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