Cloud Hosting Benefits for Business Owners and Their Accountants

Two-TallThe concept of running applications in the cloud is not at all new.  In fact, there are literally millions of business users accessing hosted applications and cloud app services every day, and adoption didn’t reach those numbers overnight. While the value of running software such as QuickBooks in a cloud model may differ from business to business but the underlying benefits are there for all to achieve.

The main value for some business owners is in being able to access information and data while traveling out of the office or when working from home.  Using almost any portable computer or mobile device, business users are able to get information on customers, orders, payments, and other valuable data regardless of the work location.  Being able to keep tabs on the business even when they aren’t there is very important to some business owners and secure remote access has become essential for today’s mobile workforce.

Where mobility motivates some to move to the cloud, collaboration is what drives others. For public accountants and small business bookkeepers this benefit becomes essential to effectively delivering services to clients. Because small businesses and the professionals that serve them do not operate in the same locations, the ability to work in the same software and data at the same or different times allows business owners and their accountants and bookkeepers to work seamlessly together in support of the business.  Business owners benefit from better financial data in real-time, and the accounting professionals are able to deliver results without time-consuming travel and doing the work on-site.

Business owners and the accounting professionals supporting them end up realizing the benefits of improved IT, where greater predictability in performance and cost matters. Businesses need to focus on their business and not on the IT which supports it, and outsource professionals such as accountants and bookkeepers need to be able to work with clients efficiently and without having to invest in expensive tools and services to make it happen.

When a cloud platform is deployed for the client business it can not only deliver benefits to the business owners and operation. A cloud-based approach can also provide tangible benefits in worker efficiency and productivity through improved access to information for the professionals who support the business.

Businesses need technology to support their operations, and the requirement generally spans far beyond pure accounting and finance. Unfortunately, many outsource bookkeeping and accounting professionals focus only on the accounting or financial systems when considering a cloud-based implementation, failing to consider the critical aspects of the operational level applications which support the various functions of the business.

This is often where a cloud hosting approach meets business needs better than a single cloud app. With a cloud hosting model, the existing business software and data can be “enabled” to allow accounting professionals access to the complete realm of business data, putting them in a far better position to ensure that the information resulting in the accounting system is of high quality and may be trusted.

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Next Generation Accountants and Businesses

Understanding the value and application of information technology is the cornerstone of building a successful “next generation” accounting or consulting practice. Professionals are finding that new opportunities to engage with new and existing clients comes from closer involvement with client financial and operational systems. Collecting and analyzing data, integrating applications and automating data exchanges, and leveraging cloud platforms and services is rapidly becoming the next level of “standardized” service offered by many professionals.

The pace of change is increasing, which makes it increasingly important for business owners to wisely select their technology partners and solutions. While many accounting professionals consider themselves to be the business owner’s trusted advisor, their clients often seek advice on increasing efficiency and reducing costs from software and IT consultants instead.

Yet conditions will change and could force the client business to make adjustments that impact the applications and services supporting the operation. Do the solutions in place have the agility necessary to meet changing business needs, being adaptable enough to meet new conditions or orientations? This is where accounting professionals can help their business clients make the right choices to address current and potential future needs.

Even as information management paradigms continue to shift, accounting professionals can help their business clients achieve better business performance and profitability through innovating workflows and increasing process efficiency. Whether or not the existing systems lend themselves to these efforts remains the question, and represents an area where the professional could provide great value.

Accounting professionals should look at services they can provide to clients that have direct and meaningful impact on operational efficiency and resultant profitability.  These areas represent not simply cost and efficiency improvements, but speak to quality of service and sustainability as well, creating better and repeatable outcomes that can support the operation even as operating conditions may change.

Improving data collection and analysis provides the foundation for understanding more about the operation, and delivers the insight required to identify areas where performance might be improved and then to prove the outcome.

Automating data exchanges and imports, eliminating redundant entry and the potential for manual errors, establishes structure in processes which can then be streamlined to deliver consistent and predictable results.

Utilizing cloud platforms and services allows the business to utilize the infrastructure required to support operations while providing a level of affordable scalability that doesn’t push the business beyond its reasonable boundaries.

What this discussion touches on is the subject of digital transformation and what that really means for small businesses and the accounting professionals who support them.

Rather than performing the accounting and financial work as after-the-fact participants, accounting professionals should help their business clients take a new view of processes and activities performed throughout the business, identifying areas where new approaches can be applied to increase efficiency as well as agility, developing a stronger foundation for growth and profitability. 

From the adoption of paperless and electronic workflows to merging social media with marketing and support activities, digital transformation represents an ongoing effort within a business to fundamentally shift from manual processes to electronic exchange, and expanding considerations beyond physical boundaries to include the virtual, as well.

All of this represents new opportunity and enhanced value for the accounting professionals ready to help their clients become “next generation” businesses.

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