CLOUD ACCOUNTING – THE WAY OF THE FUTURE
Whether you're a small start-up, a sole trader or an established business, cloud accounting has much it can offer you. From low cost subscription fees, easy-to-use interfaces or just being able to work on-the-go, cloud accounting has the potential to transform your business for the better.
What is cloud accounting?
Cloud accounting, like most modern day digital file storage services such as Dropbox, is where all your files are kept locked up tight in a secure server offsite, instead of on a single or even multiple, computers. This means of course, that instead of the old way where your files are stuck on the one PC and inaccessible afterhours or if you're out of the office, using cloud accounting you can access all your financials safely anywhere, any-when and on any device as long as you have internet connection.
By having it online, your software will always be up-to-date with the latest tax compliance and security. No messy time-consuming and expensive software updates needed.
Most importantly, cloud accounting has been created especially for you – the on-the-go business owner, to help make financial management easier and more cost-effective than ever before. It is simple to set up, easy to use and allows business owners to run both the day-to-day requirements of a business while providing real-time reports on a multitude of financial issues - saving you both time and money.
The cloud in business
Do you use online banking? Have a Dropbox account? Or use a music storage service such as iTunes? If you do, chances are you're already using cloud software. A secure and maturing technology, more than 60% of Australian businesses use some type of cloud computing with over 80% saying it has saved them money. Through lower overheads, increased efficiency and a multitude of other reasons, cloud accounting has been helping Australian business owners successfully grow and expand for the last couple of years. So, while you might be holding off on converting to the cloud because you think it's just too much trouble or that your desktop software or Excel spreadsheets are good enough, the truth is your competitors who are already using the cloud are already ahead of you.
What can cloud accounting do for me?
We all know the rule in business is to use 80% of your time on your actual business and 20% on the big picture. But in truth how much of that 20% - which should be spent on marketing and planning, is spent on the general running of your business? Invoicing, tracking bills, entering expenses and assets, account reconciliation and payroll are all part of the general everyday running of your business that can easily be automated and handled when using cloud accounting – saving you time and money and helping you grow your business into the powerhouse it could be sooner.
The real-time reporting you can only get from using a cloud based software allows you to quickly and effectively identify trends or any potential problems, enabling you to take control of your finances and improve your business.
Benefits of Cloud accounting:
- Cost effective – you can get a simple easy-to-use cloud accounting software account from as little at $5 a month.
- Accessible anywhere, anytime and by multiple authorised users
- Instant up to date reporting
- Automatic backups and software upgrades
- Automatic bank feeds and reconciliation – instantly see all your bank balances, recent sales and up-coming bills
- Pay bills instantly
- Keep track of your business in real-time
- It's safe and secure
- Easy and smart look invoicing
- Ultimate flexibility with payroll, time billing, invoicing, customised business reports and much more
- No hidden costs - all software updates, automatic backups and disaster recovery are included in the monthly price
- Multiple plugins available – personalise your account with all you need to effectively run your business, whether its connecting your customer relationship manager (CRM), online ad campaigns or sale data directly to your account the level of personalisation available is limitless
Your office – anywhere, anytime
Smartphones and tablets are becoming the cornerstones of the modern business; increasing productivity and helping companies thrive. In fact, according to research the use of mobile devices can save businesses up to nine weeks a year in terms of productivity time and increase their revenue by an average of 8%.
Whether you work from home, on the go, at multiple sites, internationally or just sitting at the local coffee shop, thanks to technology and cloud accounting software the world is your oyster. Wherever you are, at the touch of button, you can have instant access to all your financial data. You can prepare invoices and email them, check your debtors and follow them up, and save yourself hours of productive work time all while standing in line waiting for a coffee.
Data Control & Business Planning
The main advantage of cloud accounting is that it is one set of data in real-time. No more of this having multiple files over multiple computers or sending files back–and-forth with your accountant. In fact, whether you have offices around the world or a company that runs 24/7 over different time zones, there's only one current copy of your entire dataset in the cloud at any one time. So you'll always be up-to-date no matter who's logged in.
Troubleshooting problems also becomes a breeze when using cloud accounting. By allowing both you and your accountant to log in and view your live business data simultaneously, you as the business owner, get a better understanding and explanation of any issues. This collaborative process can also be the springboard for your business's expansion by offering insights and intelligence on how your business is performing that's much harder to see on old desktop systems.
How safe is it really?
Cloud accounting software is one of the most secure ways to store your data. Firstly, because everything's stored off-site and backed up daily, there's no loss of productivity if a disaster like an electrical surge, fire or flood hits your office. As long as you have an internet connection you can still access all your information.
Secondly, cloud based software companies have incredibly stringent security and privacy policies in place for your data. Their physical and computer security levels are far higher than a sole trader or small company would ever use.
Finally, when using cloud accounting software only authorised users have access to the software and data.
Cloud-based accounting systems can also offer fraud protection, because they can be set up to put controls in place to prevent unauthorised access to bank accounts and provide an electronic audit trail of what actions have been performed by whom and at what time.
Frequently asked questions?
What if my computer dies?
Because your data is now being stored on a secure server offsite, it will be automatically backed up. You don't have to do anything, data back-up and disaster recovery are included as part of your cloud accounting software package. So in the event that your computer crashes or is stolen, your data is safe and still accessible.
How accurate is it?
The joy of cloud accounting is that it is one set of data in real-time. No more of this having multiple files over multiple computers or sending files back–and-forth with your accountant. In fact, whether you have offices around the world or a company that runs 24/7 over different time zones, there's only one current copy of your entire dataset in the cloud at any one time. So you'll always be up-to-date no matter who's logged in.
How expensive is it?
Traditionally, accounting software is charged per software package. So, for example, if you had an office with 12-15 staff, each with their own computer, you'd need to purchase 12-15 product licenses – one for each computer. This can get prohibitively expensive, especially when you start adding on the annual fees and software updates needed. Cloud accounting, on the other hand, typically charges a small monthly subscription fee from as little as $5 a month.
What if I need something in my accounts explained to me?
Cloud accounting lets both you and your accountant be logged in and viewing the same files at the same time. This means any financial problems or questions you have can be answered quickly and easily fixed. Alternatively if its' more technical help you're after the online help support for most accounting software is second to none. With 24/7 email and messaging service support services available you'll never be without a helping hand whenever and wherever you need it.
Finally there's no shortage of training available for cloud accounting systems, with most suppliers running regular webinars and handy how-to videos.