There are people who simply switch off, as soon as the word ‘Cloud’ is mentioned, perhaps because it is such an abstract concept.
But there really is no mystique about it all.
Cloud simply refers to storing data online without it having to clog up your personal computer storage. Data is held in secure storage areas on the internet but is instantly accessible when you need it.
And, because your accounting data is held securely, offsite, you aren’t restricted to being able to access it on your desktop. Instead, you can access it on any device, simply by using a logon. So, why wouldn’t you want your cumbersome accounting records kept in safe storage, away from your own devices? There are so many benefits derived from cloud accounting, with the key ones being listed below:
1. Mobile access at any time
With cloud accounting, you can access your accounts and key financial figures at any time, from anywhere.
When you use an old-fashioned, desktop-based system, you are effectively tied to the office. Your software, your data and your accounts are all sat on a local drive. And that limits the access you can have to your financial information.
Cloud-based accounting frees you up from this restriction. Your data and records are all safely encrypted and stored on a cloud server, and there is no software application for you to download – you log in and work from your web browser, wherever you have Wi-Fi and an Internet connection.
So, wherever you are, you can always check on the status of your business.
2. A cost and time-effective solution
Working online reduces your IT costs and saves you time by keeping you constantly connected to the business.
Desktop-based systems require investment in IT hardware, plus the maintenance of that hardware. You require a server to house the application software and the related data. And you will need to pay an IT expert to maintain both the server and the office network – that can be an expensive overhead.
Online accounting is carried out entirely from the cloud. There is no costly IT infrastructure for you to maintain, and you can access the software whether you are in the office, working from your kitchen table or out at a customer meeting.
Rather than waiting until you are back at the office, you can immediately approve payments, or send out invoices to customers, saving you time and making your financial processes far more effective.
3. Watertight security and no time-consuming back-ups
When you are cloud-based, your accounts and records are all saved and backed up with military levels of encryption.
If you have used desktop accounting, you will be aware of the need to back-up your work at the end of each day. And you will also know about the need for updates each time your provider brings out a new version of the software.
On a cloud platform, back-ups and software updates become a thing of the past. You’re always logged in to the most up-to-date version of the software, with all the latest functions, tax rates and necessary returns.
Security is another area where cloud accounting trumps a desktop system. Your data is no longer sat on a physical server in the office, nor languishing on the hard drive of your laptop. All your accounting information is encrypted at source and saved to the cloud. So, the only person who can access your confidential information is you, plus selected members of your team and advisers. No more worrying about losing a laptop with confidential information or thieves breaking into your office and stealing your computers and data.
4. Share and collaborate with ease
Working with colleagues, and sharing data with your advisers, is an extremely straightforward process when you work ‘in the cloud’.
Using the old, desktop approach, you had limited access to your accounts – and that made collaboration with colleagues and advisers difficult. If your accountant needed specific numbers, they would need to be emailed back and forth, or saved to a USB memory stick and couriered directly to their office.
With a system like Xero online accounting (one of our choices of cloud accounting), you, your colleagues, your management team and your advisers can all access the same numbers – instantly, from any geographical location. So, collaboration is as easy as picking up the phone and logging in to Xero or similar, with the key numbers in front of you.
5. Reduces paperwork and is more sustainable
Using cloud accounting can deliver the dream of having a paperless office.
With traditional accounting, dealing with paperwork, data-entry and financial admin can start to eat into your business time. Everything must be printed out and dealt with in hard copy, and this is slow, ineffective and has a negative effect on the environment.
With an online accounting system, you can significantly reduce your reliance on paperwork. Invoices can be emailed out directly to clients, removing the costs of printing and postage – and speeding up the payment process. Incoming bills and receipts can be scanned and saved directly with the associated transactions in your accounting software.
And because your documents are all digitised and stored in the cloud, there is no need to keep the paper originals – saving on filing space, storage costs and potential data breaches.
6. Better control of your financial processes
The efficiencies of online accounting software gives you greatly improved control of your core financial processes.
Online invoicing function streamlines the whole invoice process, giving you a better view of expected income, an overview of outstanding debts and a clear breakdown of what each customer owes your business.
Talk to us about moving to cloud accounting
Are you beginning to see the benefits of a cloud accounting approach for your financial management?
If you are currently using a desktop-based accounting system and want to see first-hand how cloud accounting can benefit your business, please get in touch for a face-to-face demo from one of our experts.