The forecast is this: if the new wave of cloud-based accountants have their way, soon will be gone the days of small-business owners hauling dollies of documents into an old-school brick-and-mortar office.
In fact, in a new study from Xero, one online accounting software provider for accountants and small businesses, 3 in 10 accounting professionals plan to move their clients online this year alone. Xero definitely has an iron in that fire, but the accountants presumably answer as they will.
Let’s take a look at the phenomenon, where it’s at right now, and the future of the idea.
Cloud Accounting: What It Means for Your Business
Accounting in the cloud is changing the pace and immediacy of how a company’s financials are tracked and accessed. Cloud computing not only reduces the amount of physical hardware a small business needs, it also makes key information easier to use.
“You can get a CPA who has access to your accounting data 24/7,” said Nicholas Bird, a partner and accountant at Lucid Books of Utah — he also advises Xero on its accounting front.
Bird is already using the cloud to accelerate his clients’ understanding of their money.
“You can have a phone conversation about money, in realtime, that most small business won’t have right now because it’s a big hassle,” he said.
The labor-intensive spreadsheet crunching of pre-cloud tools may soon be history. Bird pointed out several other benefits, too.
— Time Saving: No more end-of-tax-year aggregation and computation. Keep your cloud-based accountant up to date constantly. No more crunch-time, come March and April.
— Cost Saving: Your accountant’s cloud-enabled process eliminates a lot of the clerical work associated with physically moving data from your world to theirs. Never again will they need to take your business’s copy of QuickBooks with them to do the work!
— Efficiency: “I can spend 90 percent of my time doing work,” said Bird. “As opposed to spending all my time on logistics and saying things like: ‘Hey, you didn’t send a file or a password.’”
Getting Started: Cloud Accounting Apps
One development that’s ongoing, said Bird, is that cloud-based app providers are seeing the advantages of sewing together whole packages of small-business oriented services.
For example, in May 2012, Xero acquired WorkFlowMax — a complete suite of business-management tools that the company can now incorporate into its extant accounting packages.
“Right now, it’s still somewhat small but it’s only going to get bigger,” Bird said of cloud accounting. “It’s kind of still about building up the ecosystems. It’s going to continue to get better because different companies are integrating these systems together. That’s where I see it going.”