The wave of cloud accounting is slowly covering each and every financial practice, picking out the companies able to sustain the trend and stand on the surface to the damage of ones that chose to ignore it. At the same time, the challenge of ‘moving online’ is well justified with surpassing cumbersome PC operations, as a result of which companies save time and money. In fact, business in 2016 is completely driven by ‘the simpler the better’ logic, which is why endorsing cloud-based operations is no longer a choice.
Apparently, the trend is not a new one, but rather one subdued to change because of constant developments and sales driving ideas, as for example the need to integrate backend accounting with frontend CRM. This is only one of the shaky tricks down the pipeline which companies need to know in order to remain competitive. Cloud accounting is taken more and more seriously, but we still believe there is ground to explore business opportunities.
Let’s drill around some of the leading trends for this year, and check whether we’ve made the most of our accounting practices:
1. It has just started!
We’ve seen the rise and fall of numerous digital and in-cloud services, but online accounting didn’t just appear out of the blue. This long-prepared process moved from 1 in 10 to 5 in 10 users, and the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping: after all, we live in a time when we swap plastic cards through signalizing devices to pay large amounts of money, or simply scan a code to check our account’s balance. Jeff Drew, a senior editor by the Journal of Accountancy, made it clear digital future is approaching fast; companies are shifting with a whole new and accelerated pace towards the cloud; and a large part of what is about to happen is left to your imagination.
2. Reaping the benefits of Optical Character Recognition
So far, there was enough room for critics merged to manual data input, and the genuine necessity to use an online accounting system. The problem is now surpassed by giving devices a real opportunity to ‘read’ data, and eliminate the tackiest heavy-lifting which moreover leads to undesired errors. Thanks to OCR technology, images can become operable text, or, if that suites you more, your written notes can become official documents. Seriously, your accountant won’t have to decipher someone’s scratches, but lean back and let the system understand what the text is about. 2016 is supposed to bring even more bounds and leaps for business processes, so stay alert!
3. At the end of the month, all data is exactly where it should be
Cloud accounting aims to simplify financial procedures, but a sentence like this wouldn’t make any sense when running 5 different systems in order to eliminate labor expenses. Now that information is stored in cloud and can be thereof accessed from any device, it makes perfect sense to bring accounting, invoicing, billing, and budgeting under the same roof, and to manage them from there. What the financial ecosystem is going to provide this year are fully-enabled financial packages, where all functionality is built-in, and nothing can go wrong. Needless to say, the systems will be totally integrated with useful third-party software, ideally through public developer API to make them blend in every environment.
4. Experiencing a collaboration transformation
Another trend to keep an eye on is the incorporation of collaborative features into traditional accounting & finance systems. You can already see this in a number of software reviews, categorizing products in more than a single category. What is more, we don’t believe collaboration simply enriches accounting, but that it is transforming it completely: once information is in cloud, it flows seamlessly from one user to the other, and ‘attaching’ a corporate communications channel is not that much of an effort. The biggest benefit is that employees get to discuss and edit work in real time, something that will likely eliminate all confusion in decentralized teams.
5. Getting rid of recurrent costs
It happens with every software, but accounting and finance systems are definitely the haven of payment misuse where companies can be tricked with quote-based payments, and pay extra fees for every new feature released by their software provider. Cloud-based systems, however, are usually priced with a fixed scheme, where you choose your package based on the number of users you wish to involve.
6. Focusing on small and medium businesses
Digital accounting is no longer the ‘gift’ of few large enterprises that can afford it. When done in cloud, accounting costs significantly less, and there are no complex installations and maintenance procedures that would make you hire a professional technical team. Thanks to cloud accounting, SMBs get their personal, friendly accountant that covers everything from bank reconciliation to VAT return, as a popular Guardian article discussing the benefits of cloud accounting explains. Accounting is made accessible, to say at least.
7. A genuine opportunity to merge with an international expert firm
Regardless of how small and unified the accounting ecosystem may be, small and medium businesses struggle to stay competitive, and have difficulties expanding their reach. To be frank, one wouldn’t even expect this to be different, knowing that debits and credits reach a whole new level of complexity when operating between tax jurisdictions. Unfortunately, a good accounting and finance system won’t make the ‘tax fair share’ disappear from your list of obligations, but will at least make the transition smooth, and ensure you’re not breaching any rule or standard. Merging with an international and experienced partner has never been easier than it is now.
Focusing on freelance success
Last, but not least, cloud accounting apps simplify the way freelance accountants charge for their services, as they are finally able to estimate tax return value, and wrap up a package for all user groups. With a down-to-earth price, freelancers are first of all able to purchase such a system, and work remotely without necessarily running an office. As Michael and Jacqui Clarke, a couple of trusted Deloitte advisors shared for the company’s blog, the biggest benefit for freelance advisors is the opportunity to do extra advisory work, due the time they manage to save shifting their activities to cloud.