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As the market size of cloud computing is on track to reach US$ 285.3 in the US, the accounting services industry is quickly catching up. Technology is changing fast and accounting firms may be left behind if they choose to stick to their old, familiar and obviously reliable accounting software. The problem with the software has to be updated regularly which is something that has to be managed and paid for. Then there is the management of the practice itself, client relationship management, document management and workflow management. It is quite easy to have many types of software for each of these areas and running a practice with so many tools can be difficult. Lastly, there is the risk of losing data if it is housed in the practice. It is much better for accounting firms to move to accounting practice management software such as Firm360 that is in the cloud.
Benefits of using cloud
When an accounting firm uses cloud-based accounting practice management software, they solve many problems with one tool and manage many facets of the practice on one platform. That brings a lot of benefits that we discuss below.
No managing updates
A cloud-based accounting management practice software is not inhouse so it is not managed inhouse. There is no need for the practice to manage updates because the software is automatically updated by the service provider regularly without disrupting work. Conversely, inhouse software that accounting practices use for accounting, managing workflow, customer relationships management, document management, etc. have to be updated regularly, at least once a year. That is something that the IT department has to manage.
Software based in the cloud is accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world via computers, smart phones and tablets as long as there is internet connectivity. An executive or an employee can afford to be away from the office and still access the system, collaborate on documents and contribute to the running of projects.
A cloud-based accounting practice management software like Firm360 is all-in-one. Many functions can be managed from one platform and many tasks can be automated and that simplifies management of the practice. Automation also brings work efficiency which results in higher profitability.
When the firm uses the cloud, data is securely stored in data centers which are managed by service providers who focus on advanced security protection. Data centers also store data in multiple locations in case of natural disasters and other factors that may disrupt business. Therefore, data is more secure in the cloud and it does not cost the firm extra to keep it secure.
Storing data in inhouse servers may sound safe and secure but it is easy to sabotage internally. It can also be attacked by cybercriminals (e.g. malware and phishing) and it is exposed to natural disasters. Should the firm try to adopt advanced security measures, they would find it to be too complex and expensive. For example, the data has to be backed up manually and that requires frequent purchases of extra hardware to store the data.
Automation frees IT staff
Automated AI-driven security and automated updates free the IT department staff to focus on innovation and bigger picture strategies.
When an accounting firm uses a cloud software, it saves a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on IT asset acquisitions, data backup, data security, software updates, and hardware repairs and maintenance. The cloud software is pay-as-you use meaning that the firm only pays for the resources that it uses and it only pays more if it decides to use more resources. Best of all, there is no cost associated with down-time since the cloud system is kept going 24/7 without disrupting business.
The cloud-based accounting practice management software provides real-time metrics for the business. Therefore, managers and executives know what is happening in the business at any moment and they can make informed decisions and take corrective actions when needed.
The cloud-based system allows the firm and its clients to upload documents, to store them in the cloud, to edit them, to collaborate on them and to retrieve them. With documents in the cloud there is no risk of losing them and there is no risk of unauthorized people accessing customers’ sensitive information.
With all data and documents accessible in the cloud, it is easy for teams in the accounting firm to collaborate internally, and to collaborate with clients, from anywhere, any time and from any device.
Cloud system enable the firm’s managers to have better control over the users and resources by setting permission levels based on their seniority or the tasks assigned.
How much can you save by moving into the cloud?
Some solutions can be rather expensive, but a spokesperson at Firm360 said the following: “one of our customers is in the process of migrating to Firm360 and cancelling the following subscriptions: Thompson Reuters PracticeCS, GoFileroom, Sharefile, Jetpack Workflow. The combined subscriptions were costing them over $20k per year, and we came in at close to a 40% cost savings”.In recent side-by-side comparisons, Firm360 ranked well among other industry solutions. It is always a good idea to involve your CTO in choosing the most appropriate software to manage an accountancy practice.