Cloud computing is a phrase bandied about at the moment. It is technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications rather than being installed and maintained on your laptop or PC. This means that businesses don't have to install and maintain applications on individual computers and can access their data and applications anywhere and anytime on any computer with internet access.
The accounting process lends itself well to this new technology as there are a number of stakeholders that have input into your accounts; bookkeeper, management, financial controller and accountant. They would benefit from access to up to date information and the ability to review and correct transactions seamlessly.
So what are the benefits of this new technology? Let's have a look at a few:
* Access anywhere anytime
* Software is always up to date for all users
* Data is stored offsite, no more backups
* Data is always current for all stakeholders
* In most cases seamless integration with your bank account, bank feeds, simplifying data entry and reconciliations
* Costs can be lower than having to update your software every year for tax changes or having to have higher priced multiuser software
There are four main cloud accounting systems out there. Dedicated online services, Xero and SAASU and Quickbooks and MYOB Live accounts which have been PC based for many years and are recent arrivals to the cloud environment. When reviewing these systems it pays to get assistance from an independent party with experience in all the options as different businesses have different needs.
Things to look at when choosing a system are:
* Is it a reputable and solid organisation?
* Where is the system and data housed and is it safe?
* What is support like and is there local support?
* Does it provide greater efficiencies than desktop software?
* What functions does it include?
* Does it handle local taxes and compliance?
* What is the full cost
* How scalable is it by way of add-ons such as inventory, CRM, payroll etc.
* Make sure your accountant is happy with using the new system
Cloud accounting can offer many advantages to the small business owner by way of functionality as well as ease of use. However care must be taken in choosing the right package for your company as well as in the initial training and there are a number of consultants out there that can assist in the process.