Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business

Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business

Every day it seems there is another professional accounting or bookkeeping firm asking questions about how to get new clients for their new “online accounting” business.  Most of these professionals are likely missing the point that their current clients are probably already looking at online accounting solutions and services. Just like in the days when QuickBooks was beginning to take the lead in the market; today’s increasingly popular online accounting solutions are gaining popularity with the direct users, and are bringing those solutions to the professional community (not the other way around).  Professionals who wish to build their businesses on what the market demands would do well to recognize that the push to the cloud coming from their clients is a reflection of past activities, and firms riding the wave are much more likely to see success than those fighting it.

In reflection, remember that QuickBooks, unlike the other business accounting and financial products at the time, was a retail product marketed to and sold via retail and direct-to-customer outlets rather than via a channel or reseller approach.  At that time, State of the Art Software (which became Peachtree and then Sage 50) was the solution preferred by most accounting professionals, yet more and more small business owners would come to the professionals with the QuickBooks product already in hand, so accountants threw up their hands and adopted (if not embraced) the software.  Over the years, QuickBooks became the “go to” software for small business accounting, and many professional firms didn’t just gear up to work with it, but went as far as developing standards and practices based on the product.

With the introduction of high-speed broadband access, business Internet connectivity and affordable remote/mobile service, businesses are now finding that their options for shopping for, purchasing and implementing various solutions to business problems is possible at any time and from anywhere.  Even more, social computing and the blurring of the lines between personal and business use has made it all but assured that new business owners will seek online solutions where they can access business information and perform business-related activities regardless of location or mode of access.  This is what they have come to expect as consumers of information and services, and the expectation extends no less into their small businesses.

Professional firms must recognize that these evolving paradigms represent opportunity, taking advantage of cloud-based, real-time collaboration models to provide more timely value to their clients.  Where the more traditional on-premises and paper-based models have flourished, the online working models representing lean process and sustainability become the focus.

The movement to the cloud for small business accounting started with the consumer, who ultimately became the small business, and who may eventually become the big business. The professionals who recognize the value of and wisely adopt cloud technologies and online application services in their businesses – specifically in terms of how they work with clients and deliver value – are the firms which recognize that the client experience and perception of value delivered are the most important elements of all.

jmbunnyfeetMake Sense?

J

Why Accounting in the Cloud?

Why Accounting in the Cloud?

Business owners and managers need to keep close control of their financial data.  They need to know where they stand at all times, and having information available to make business decisions is essential.  When the financial information is in the office but the owner isn’t, how can wise decisions be made without access to supporting data?  They can’t, and that’s a problem.  The solution is simple: work in the cloud.

A cloud computing model properly applied to accounting and bookkeeping systems helps businesses of any size keep their financial data and accounting applications in a safe a secure environment, yet accessible to those who need it.  By locating the business applications and data in a protected central location, access to programs and data sets can be provided to authorized users regardless of location or computing platform.  For a small business owner, this means that working from home or on vacation can be as productive as working in the office.  In larger businesses, cloud-based accounting means the accounting department, CFO and financial advisers might all access the same financial records and applications no matter where they work from.

Cloud computing and hosted application models applied to accounting and bookkeeping represent a viable option for managing, securing and providing access to critical financial information.  Businesses outsourcing their accounting or bookkeeping work find that cloud based approaches offer workflow and process efficiencies to help get the necessary information in the hands of those who need it, quickly and efficiently.

Keeping accounting and bookkeeping systems safe yet available, providing business decision makers with the flexibility of accessing their financial data from anywhere and at any time is a highly valuable service. Accounting and finance professionals can act as the trusted adviser to their clients, providing important business insight and information, with guidance in developing cloud computing and online accounting approaches being among the benefits the firm offers.   Working closer with clients allows professionals to produce better, more accurate and insightful results.   Cloud computing models remove distance barriers and allow professionals and their clients to work more collaboratively with applications and data than ever before.

Many firms are just recently discovering the relationship between technology adoption and business competitiveness.  Those that embrace new computing paradigms gain the ability to meet client requirements in innovative, efficient and timely ways while those that do not adopt these new models continue to struggle, unable to communicate value and differentiation in their service offerings.

There are some recognized truths in business, and one is that is isn’t what you know but who you know.  Another truth, an understanding that is just now being fully recognized, is that it’s not what you do, but how you do it that matters.  Accounting and bookkeeping for business is absolutely an area where cloud computing and the wise application of technology and service can improve cost efficiency, accuracy and turnaround times, allowing the firm to provide a higher level of service to clients.  Accounting in the cloud is a technology-enabled approach which propels the firm into an entirely new range of capabilities and potential service offerings, reaching higher levels of performance and profitability.

Joanie Mann Bunny FeetMake Sense?

J