Ryan Pearcy, Business Advisory Director at Scrutton Bland and cloud accounting expert explains how cloud accounting may be the way forward for the region’s businesses.
The concept of cloud technology isn’t new and neither is cloud accounting. Both have been around for over twenty years. But it is the advances in software development in the last few years that have enabled cloud accounting to grow from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ for small businesses. In addition, awareness of the software has grown due to marketing campaigns from the big hitters, and the advent of Making Tax Digital in the UK in April this year has caused businesses to reconsider their accounting processes.
So, what is it that sets cloud accounting apart from other systems and has made it a necessity for so many businesses? Two simple concepts: flexibility and efficiency.
The basic concept of cloud accounting is to enable an individual, or a team to complete their finances from anywhere. As long as there is an internet connection, you can access your data from any device. This flexibility means that you no longer need to be tied to an office or a desk. You can work collaboratively with your advisers on the go or at their offices whilst still accessing your own information in real time. This is a must have for the modern business owner or entrepreneur where time is their most fleeting resource.
In addition to business owners, employees now expect a certain amount of flexible working. Cloud accounting enables your finance team to work from anywhere, so extreme weather events are no longer a problem, and you can attract the best talent by enabling greater geographic flexibility in the roles that you offer.
It doesn’t just stop with the finance department. A key strength of modern cloud accounting packages is their ability to share data in real time with cloud-based operational tools. You and your colleagues can access and manage data from wherever they are based that syncs directly to key individuals in the business. This creates flexibility but also efficiencies, with removal of data entry and paper management, a headache of any finance function. Documents can be scanned and retained, approvals can be carried out from anywhere with an app, and automatic prompts can remind you of tasks you might have forgotten.
Cloud based solutions enable software companies to develop and roll-out improvements centrally. With all data held in one place, Smart programmes can learn and improve themselves as they are used, meaning your system is the current version but also developing as you use it. These systems also enable integrations that were once difficult to obtain. Information on your banking, your website, your tills, your stock, can all be shared and reported on, giving you insights into your business in real time that would normally have taken months to produce.
Still not convinced? With more businesses switching to cloud systems, more of your competitors will be attracting better talent, working faster, and have current and better information to make decisions. For businesses that don’t use cloud, you are now at a disadvantage and may have an uphill struggle to compete. So, if you want to survive it’s simple: go cloud or go home.