1. Accessible anywhere, giving freedom and flexibility
Cloud accounting software allows you to access your financial information, securely, 24/7, from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Gone are the days when you have to buy one license per machine and be chained to your office computer.
SMB owners are often out and about and tend not to enjoy the loss of control this absence causes. Having your business in the cloud means that when you go off site, you can continue to have access to your business’s engine room. Just make sure you don’t log in while you’re on holiday!
2. Increase productivity through massive time savings
Cloud accounting is a huge time saver. No longer do you need to spend hours (or sometimes days!) poring over physical invoices, bills and receipts and matching them to hundreds of different bank transactions from different accounts.
Cloud accounting flips this process on its head! Automatic bank feeds (a standard feature in most cloud accounting packages) means you can choose to feed your bank statements directly into your accounting software and then match the transactions to the bills, invoices and receipts; reconciling data with a few clicks of a mouse.
You can even set up auto-coding rules, making the processes of reconciliation, expense submissions, raising invoices, paying bills and chasing late payments highly automated and often pre-populated for approval. This removes the possibility of errors from manual data entry and speeds up bank reconciliation.
3. Build your own, bespoke, fully-customised package
Products like Xero and Quickbooks Online have ecosystems with hundreds of ‘add-ons’ to choose from. This means that you can enhance and customize your accounting package for just a few extra bucks a month.
These apps tend to automate admin or business processes and include services such as inventory management, invoice chasing, automated receipt data entry, and advanced cash flow forecasting. (For more info, check out our CEO’s list of the 5 best Xero add ons).
Being able, at a low cost, to tailor your accounting package to best suit your business and your business processes is one of the crucial benefits of cloud accounting. These bolt-ons are rarely provided by the platforms themselves, being supplied instead by 3rd party developers who often have a deep personal knowledge of the business challenges you are facing (read here about how Float came about).
4. Sharing and collaboration has never been easier
Cloud accounting makes it super easy to share information with those who need it. One subscription with multiple users means you can share your data in real-time at the click of a button. No copying your data onto a USB drive. No physically taking it to whoever needs to see it. Sharing and collaboration is effortless and instantaneous.
5. Improved security
One of the primary objections to moving sensitive financial information to the cloud involves concerns about security. Actually, you may be surprised to find that cloud-hosted software is actually more secure than software hosted locally on your desktop or your own server.
For starters, cloud accounting providers store your data in high security storage facilities and your data is encrypted, meaning it is unreadable to hackers. The data in the cloud is also backed up continuously, so there is no chance you will lose your data.
Additionally, if your laptop ever gets lost or stolen, no one will be able to access your cloud account unless they have a login.
In the event of a fire or a natural disaster, having your books in the cloud means that your productivity won’t take a dip because your precious data is stored off site.
And with cloud hosted accounting software, you have control over the level of access you allow other users…way more secure than emailing your files or sending a USB stick!
6. And finally…save cash!
And saving the best ‘til last…if the efficiency savings aren’t enough of an attraction, with your accounting software hosted in the cloud you no longer need drop cash on servers and IT staff to manage them. Cloud accounting operates on a pay-per-use, monthly subscription basis rather than big annual bills – which is better for your cash flow.
You may find that this monthly fee for one year is lower than the annual fee for your desktop software. And if a new update of the software is available, this will be implemented automatically, meaning payments for improvements and upgrades are instantaneous and the cost is already factored into your subscription fee.