If you want your small and medium-sized business to work better, simpler, faster and cheaper then an investment in cloud accounting software could be a very wise move. In this article, we explore the 6 main benefits that our clients enjoy as a result of using an online accounting software package.
What actually is CLOUD technology?
You hear ‘cloud this’ and ‘cloud that’ these days. But what are we really talking about when we talk about “the cloud” in relation to technology? (Rather than a big storm cloud brewing…) Probably the best way to think about “the cloud” is it is a remotely located server where you put all your data, all your files and also most of your software. All you need is an internet link to “the cloud” and you can get to your data any time and any where.
Examples of where we now use ‘cloud’ technology in our every day lives include:
Online banking and shopping
Social networking sites such as Facebook
What are the benefits of using ‘cloud’ accounting technology for small and medium-sized businesses?
No need to be tied to your office for work
The biggest benefit of “the cloud” for businesses is that it breaks the link between needing to be at your office-based computer to run your business. Basically, you can now get the data wherever you happen to have an internet link. As one of our accountancy clients find out, you can literally run your practice from a beach in Thailand. To find out how we helped our client spend more time on the beach than in the office click here.
Easy software integration
The cloud brings far greater benefits than just being able to access your accounts at any time or place. It is also facilitating greater software integration in a way that wasn’t conceivable only 5 or so years ago. Previously if you wanted your, say for example, your stock control system to talk to your finance system you either needed an investment in expensive ‘enterprise level’ software or you paid a developer to make all your different IT systems talk to each other, or you had many ‘manual’ interfaces between the systems; all far from ideal for small businesses. With the connectivity and ‘add-ons’ available for cloud accounting systems such as Xero, small businesses now can have all their internal software packages, such as their CRM, stock control, warehouse system and finance software, seamlessly integrating with each other.
Reduced IT costs and greater security for your data
When your IT infrastructure was all contained within your own premises you were reliant on regular backups, updates and maintenance to keep all your data and software secure and safe. With cloud technology you can do away with keeping all your data on in-house servers or single computers. Because your data in “the cloud” is all taken care of by dedicated teams of people running the cloud servers, you no longer need to worry about regular backups, theft, data loss or expensive upgrades.
Flexible working and outsourcing becomes possible
Because your data and software packages are accessible wherever one of your team has an internet-enabled device and internet link, your team can literally work anywhere in the world. Use a cloud-storage system like Dropbox or Google Drive and geographically disparate teams can come together to work. Thus saving you office costs and making it much easier to bring onboard freelance employees as and when you need them. In fact, you can even easily and painlessly outsource the back office functions of your business, e.g. bookkeeping, management accounts, to an organisation such as ourselves. Leaving you and your staff to get on with what you love doing – serving your customers and growing your business.
Real-time financial reporting
With cloud accounting software packages like Xero and Freeagent, your data and software is much easier to keep up-to-date. You are no longer reliant on potentially just one computer containing all your financial records, or having to use an USB drive to get the financial data to the other places you need. With traditional non-cloud accounting software access to the financial data was typically very restricted. This meant that key people could not easily get to see up-to-date financial reports as and when they needed them. For example, if they were considering what level of discount they could afford to give a big customer. Now, cloud accounting software gives everyone who needs to know a clear overview of your business’s current financial position in real-time.
Easier collaboration with your financial advisors
As most cloud accounting packages comes with multi-level user access, it makes it far easier to collaborate online with not just your in-house team, but your team of external professional advisors. As mentioned previously, cloud accounting packages make it much easier to outsource your bookkeeping and management accounts. Just give us access to your data in the cloud, and we will do all the heavy lifting for you. Not only will your data and books be up-to-date, but your accounting costs will reduce as your accountant will get a clean set of books to produce the year end accounts.
The future of accounting software is very definitely up in the cloud. As many of our accountancy clients have found that their clients have demanded they invest in cloud accounting software. Isn’t about time you did too?