The benefits of using cloud accounting software
The advent of a full accounting package on the cloud has been a game changer for business owners and their accountant as the benefits in efficiency are outstanding.
What is it?
Cloud accounting software is a platform for having access to the file via a web browser. It removes the requirement to have software installed on a laptop or PC . This stops continually downloading and installing updates to ensure the software is at its most current to either fix known bugs orusing current tax rates for payroll for example. Software providers of cloud accounting software will perform regular upgrades in the backround, at times of day when user access is at a lowest point, generally being early hours of the morning.
The most significant benefit is accessibility. Everyone has a smart phone or tablet, and these devices are supported by cloud software to provide access to the file wherever the subscriber is. Dedicated mobiles apps of the software are scaled down versions, but provide subscribers with some major functionality. This can be anything from, a snap shot of the bank accounts, reconciling bank transactions, creating a new customer, invoicing customers onsite and taking payment, or uploading photos of receipts as substantiation for expense transactions.
The ability to log into the file at any point in time, from any location and see how the business is progressing financially allows for greater proactivity when needing to make decisions on the fly, as the data is in real time.
Back-ups are not required to be stored by the users in case their computer crashes, or to be forwarded to an accountant to aid in processing transactions or for the preparation of year end financials. Cloud files sit on servers hosted by the software provider, and are encrypted to aid in the protection against hacking.
Cloud accounting software allows the subscriber to grant access to multiple users with different levels of access. This promotes collaboration within the organization but gives comfort that restrictions of access ensure certain users are only able to perform their task required and not see other sensitive data. Additionally, the subscriber will invite their accountant to the file. This benefit for the accountant being able to provide real time assistance, review and provide advice on real time data, allows service levels that are not an option with desktop software.
All cloud accounting software packages provide the same functionality as desktop software. Whether it’s payroll, inventory management or fixed asset tracking. The major upgrade has been the integration of bank feeds. The subscriber provides authority for the software to populate their bank transactions directly into the software. Gone are the days of manual data entry to reconcile the bank account. This is exponential in the process of bank reconciliations for the subscriber and provides a level of accuracy and in turn confidence in the numbers present in the file.
There are a host of add-ons that can be seamlessly integrated into the software package for all different industries. These add-ons assist with the day to day tasks of the business, and again reduce processing time due to their integration. These apps take some of the basic functionality of the software and delve deeper, or provide functionality that may not exist. There are so many on offer, and continues to increase, so it is important to spend time testing these to ensure it meets the scope of the required functionality.
Cloud accounting provides a new opportunity to be able to process the accounting side of the business, but also understand the business in a new way. The increase in efficiencies are extremely beneficial when we live in such a time poor environment. No longer are we looking at past results which can be more than 12 months old. We can now see, what has happened, what is happening and build better reports to predict or budget for what we expect to happen, all in real time.