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Data Warriors – Accounting in the Cloud

Data Warriors – Accounting in the Cloud

The cornerstones of building and supporting a professional accounting, bookkeeping or financial services firm are the tools and resources that assist the professional in building their practice clientele.  In today’s market, that means understanding the value and application of cloud computing models and services.

Information management paradigms are changing, and professionals who can help their clients to achieve maximum performance and profitability through increased efficiency and innovation will find that the practice evolves into a more effective and agile organization, and the quality of their client engagements is taken to an entirely new level

Not participating in a cloud technology model is making a decision to not participate in today’s technology-enabled flow of business opportunity.  Ensure your continued relevance and value, and communicate to your clients and peers that your firm is prepared to meet the demands of an intelligent and informed clientele and market.

What does the “cloud” really mean to accounting and business?  Well, it means a lot of things.

  • Centralized access to information resources
  • Distributed storage and management of information resources
  • Collaboration and co-working
  • MORE data collection than ever before
    • MORE data being produced by various operational systems
      • MORE need for controls on data flows and exchanges
        • MORE need for analysis
          • MORE need for critical thinking

It’s been proven that any time things become more complicated or complex, it creates a need (read = opportunity) for specialists.

There is a current a growing need for accounting and business professionals who understand how all of this “connectedness” will work.  And the question isn’t really a technology question, as there are people way smarter than me handling all that.  What I’m talking about is the flow of information and data throughout the system.

This used to be more in the domain of the CIO; information systems guys and data analysts.  Accounting and finance, for all its business value, was the final dumping ground for after-the-fact financial data.  Operationally, things could be humming along in the business and looking just fine, but the business was losing money and nobody knew it before it was too late.

But we’re finally coming to understand that virtually EVERYTHING in business has a financial impact leaving an imprint on the business: every action and activity, every relationship and interaction.

With the applications and service now being made available to businesses of all sizes, even small businesses are  now able to leverage the tools and gain the insight that only the largest of enterprises were able to do in times past.

The key is in enabling the business – facilitating their processing and getting their work done – using connected applications and mobile data access tools, or even simply helping with the collection of job or invoice or expense information electronically and in real time.

The earlier in the process, where you convert information into electronic data, the better.  You can then use connected systems or integrations to move and share data with others – other systems or other processes – within the business.

Accountants are already familiar with many of these concepts and tasks, where detailed customer activity and information is distilled into an AR entry, or where vendor and payments and various enterprise expenditures and resource utilizations are summarized into AP transactions and inventory valuations.  Operational systems are simply ‘exploded’ views of these subledgers and subsystems, where operational data and process-specific functionality resides.

With a traditional ERP/MRP approach, software systems were designed to meet the integrated business model by hanging all of the functionality and capability off a single framework or foundation.  Everything in the business was an extension from the core accounting and finance system.  Less intuitive for the user than a function or process-specific tool, at least the comprehensive integration of data was there.

What businesses may benefit from with a cloud-supported model is a similar result in terms of information being shared and enterprise collaboration being supported.  The difference, and the real and amazing benefit, is that specific and unique tools can be applied to support each operational segment or functional requirement in the business, and it can be done affordably and dynamically because it comes with the integration and real time information (data) exchange that single-framework enterprise systems provide.

The accounting professional becomes of greater importance in this connected system of data and functionality.  Their experience with and understanding of back-office and bookkeeping process, and the collection and preparation of subledger data for proper accounting treatment, is an integral role to play in establishing the proper integrations, syncs and data flows to and from “accounting”.

Accounting becomes not an after-the-fact silo of historical data, but the centerpiece – the key – to unlocking business intelligence which leads to deeper understanding of business performance.

When information is power, data analysis becomes the weapon, and the accountant the warrior who wields it.

Make Sense?

J


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