As cloud-based solutions have grown in popularity and capability, many accounting professionals are finding that cloud solutions streamline work – which can directly affect profitability. Furthermore, clients are adopting cloud solutions on their own because of their obvious benefits, and therefore if we want to stay relevant and to be competitive, we need to know how to operate in the cloud.
Better Access to Client Data
When clients’ accounting systems are on a cloud platform, you literally have 24/7 access to client data (although we don’t think you should make a habit of working 24/7). You can work in a client’s account at the same time as client may be accessing it, eliminating the need for that delicate scheduling dance: “Can you switch out of single-user mode so I can get in and pay the bills?” Furthermore, this ‘anytime-anywhere’ access allows you to hire staff that are not necessarily in your building– or even your state.
In addition to better access, cloud-based software takes the burden of version control and local security off your shoulders. You don’t need to upgrade software or make sure that everyone is on the latest release in order to access the database– everyone is always on the same version. Furthermore, you don’t need to spend time on data backups – they are done automatically by the software provider. You also don’t need to worry about local security, as most reputable cloud-based solutions employ the highest standards of web security.
When you have better access to the data, you are more likely to be an effective strategic trusted advisor to your clients
Cloud accounting systems give you the chance to integrate all your clients’ systems. For example, bank feeds enter most of the data about the financial transaction (date, memo, amount) for you which reduces both labor and errors. Another example: the feature that allows customers to click-to-pay allows clients to receive funds faster, and also records the payment and the deposit, thereby automating labor and reducing errors.
When clients complain about cloud-based software subscription fees, I generally explain to them that these fees are much lower than the labor they will be paying humans to perform the work manually. Integrating apps with core accounting software is much more efficient when you’re syncing cloud-based apps vs using desktop sync engines. Cloud-apps sync faster and do it with with fewer errors– all of which translates to lower costs to the firm and thus the client.
When you move your systems to the cloud, you are no longer chained to a particular computer that has the software or the files. You can use desktop computers, laptops, tablets, even smartphones– and you can jump from one to another as needed without having to backup & restore data– no more thumb drives! Furthermore, cloud based software doesn’t care what operating system you’re using (although they may care what browser you use). You can log on with a Mac while your client logs in with a PC and one of your staff signs in with a Chromebook- you’ll all see the same data and have access to the same features.
Filing Clerk No More
Many of us have worked for years and years using computers and desktop software to perform our accounting work– work that involved driving to clients businesses, lots of paper, files that needed to be kept in order (and we did do filing because it was the only way to keep the backup documentation organized). None of that really contributed to actually getting the work done, except that the software and data were at the client’s facility. If you weigh all of that against the amazing, efficient cloud solutions that are out there, it’s easy to see that the cloud is where you want to be working!