From the March 2013 issue.
Many small company owners and managers already know the benefits of maintaining the business’ books correctly. They also fully realize just how time intensive it can be.
Proper bookkeeping isn’t solely for the benefit of operating a company. It is a must for business owners to keep up to date with their P&L and revenue targets, while also increasing the accuracy of their tax reporting, and giving them a better platform to plan for the future.
Presently there are many accounting software packages available off the shelf, with some being industry standards, and some being more niche specialized. Amidst the decision-matrix there is a growing move towards selecting cloud-based accounting and virtual server software hosting, which functions and is accessed via the web. This basically means that the bookkeeping and accounting processes happen online, rather than localized to an individual PC.
Cloud Accounting Concerns
One essential concern company owners have with cloud accounting is data security. This in itself should not be an overriding concern; cloud access is only granted by permission from authorized account holders. The best cloud hosting companies invest significant capital in security and backup. Essentially, data is actually safer in the Cloud than if it was stored locally. For example, data could be lost through theft of hardware or failure when stored on an office computer or server. Such risk is minimized when data is stored in the cloud and protected by high levels of security and backup procedure. Storing data locally is becoming an old world methodology similar to storing your money under the mattress versus in a bank.
Conventional accounting processes involve accessing the office, computer or network where your data is stored. This can be very inconvenient when you need to refer to data quickly, on the fly. Online cloud accounting allows you to access your books anywhere, at any time, as long as you have access to the Internet. This can be from your office, from a laptop on a train, or even from a smart-phone whilst on a beach! If you need someone to access data on your behalf, they can do so, without having to login to your personal computer. Simply grant them login details, and they can access the data with their own computer, without the need to install any software.
Cloud Accounting Dashboards
Cloud accounting platforms utilize intuitive “dashboards”. This allows you to locate exactly the data you’d like to be displayed when you login. This allows for sufficiently trained bookkeepers to have at-the-ready instant access to the more technical data, as opposed to novice users, who may simply want to see very top-line data and reports.
Cloud accounting seems as though it is the next step in the evolution of accounting and bookkeeping. With so many pros, and few cons, it’s wise for business owners to investigate whether online accounting could help make their accounting processes much more convenient and secure. Overall much less stressful. In addition, most firms will find that moving to the Cloud reduces IT expenditures between 30-70% over having a traditional on-site infrastructure.
Kacee Johnson is a recognized expert on cloud business solutions for small businesses and professional firms. She is the Executive Vice President of Cloud9 Real Time.
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