Professional Accountants BLOG

CloudBooks and the Professional Accountant

In October 2, 2014
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I have been looking into the advantages for the professional accountants and CPAs in using our cloud-based accounting platform. My research has shown me that the cloud is the fastest-accelerating technology they are adopting, and more firms are looking at cloud solutions than at buying new laptops, or adding monitors. Most professional accountants and CPAs can see the tremendous advantages in client service and in staff productivity – and the software vendors are pushing companies to move to the cloud. According to what I have discovered, the main players in cloud-enabled accounting services QuickBooks (an Intuit company), CCH (a Wolters Kluwer company), Intuit, Intacct, NetSuite, and Thomson Reuters. To this list we can now add our own CloudBooks PRO, a version of our CloudBooks accounting suite that has been specially adapted for the professional firm.

Cloud Accounting
Over the years a frustration for the professional accountant has been the lack of integration between annual versions of accounting software, QuickBooks in particular. If the client is happily using the 2007 version of their software then their accountant has to perform their work in the same version – I myself have been a practising accountant for 35 years and I currently own every annual version of QuickBooks from 2002 through 2014. This is a necesssary evil at this time because, although the accountant can update the client information to the latest version of QuickBooks it cannot be transferred back in its original format.
My research also made me note that the ‘Cloud’ isn’t necessarily the same as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). ‘SaaS’ has tended to focus on the vendor and its software. Being a ‘Cloud’ service suggests – or even states – that it interoperates with other applications and services, including beyond the vendor’s own offerings, letting customers assemble solutions to meet multiple needs.

The Benefits CloudBooks PRO

The main benefits that attract adoption by CPAs and other finance types, to CloudBooksPRO include:

  • Continuous software updates, which means everybody is using the same versionAutomatic secure cloud backup, so companies don’t need to worry about users doing their own backup in a regular, secure fashion.
    Note: Cloud backup also addresses regulatory requirements for having off-site backups.
  • Simplified access. Having the applications and data “in the cloud” provides “anywhere, anytime” access. Users can get to the financial data from smartphones and tablets, not just from desktop systems.
  • CPAs and clients can work together, because both access the same data.

Finance and CPAs often send or share data. Having the application and data in the cloud, where everyone can look at it together during a teleconference, removes historic delays to relay data or tech scrambles to share the same view. This minimizes the effort of exchanging large files using by e-mail, file-transfer, or couriering physical media.
Additionally, the cloud lets companies self-provision their data. Finance and Accounting can have instant access to the latest data, rather than having to e-mail Accounting or their CPA for data requests, and accountants don’t have to be interrupting other tasks to respond quickly to these requests. Now, users can dig into the data directly, for themselves, so the finance professionals can focus on analyzing the data, rather than on collecting and being ‘human photocopy machines.

Other Benefits Of Integration And Collaboration

The cloud enables and simplifies collaboration and integration, both inter-departmental and inter-company.
For example, integrating with payment processing sites like Banks, PayPal, Authorize.net, or a payment processors. Almost everyone who uses financial software does this to do billing, collection, payments. You can do this with on-premise solution, but SaaS/cloud applications are built for this; the well-crafted SaaS/cloud service includes APIs. Every SaaS provider has a Partners, Applications, and Tools list. In fact, companies like BOOMI do nothing but connect APIs.
Collaboration tools such as e-mail or chat enable the Accounting folks to build a hub of communications with business partners. A CPA with multiple clients can use CloudBooks PRO, e-mail, instant-messaging, or even Facebook to collaborate with individual clients. These are features you would not see in an out-of-the-box application in an SAP or Oracle system, because there wasn’t this assumption of being connected.
This integration extends to related software applications such as purchasing, shipping, tracking and returns, for example and at some point when a company gets big enough, integration of AR/AP, CRM and other systems becomes crucial, since important processes like inventory management are cross-departmental. With the CloudBooks products these applications are integral, and those that are not can easily be adapted to become part of the system.

CPAs, Accounting Still Keeping Busy

CloudBooks PROSimplifying and reducing workflow doesn’t necessarily mean that a business’ CPA bills will go down. Instead, the clientmay be paying the financial and accounting professionals to do the analysis and thinking with the information they now have. So they’ll get more intelligence for their money – and when they do need data answers faster, they can have them.”
However, at Cloudware we have come a long, long way because we are working with multiple applications and multiple versions, such as data spread across Excel spreadsheets, Access databases, and ERP applications. We now can have ‘all the data in one place.’

 

Barrie Osborne, Founder & CEO

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