How has the Cloud Changed the Accounting Industry?
Over the last few years, cloud computing has revolutionized numerous industries, and accounting is no exception. The recent development of cloud-based accounting software has made it easier than ever for small businesses to manage their accounting processes quickly and easily, while reducing expenses. In fact, online accounting applications are quickly becoming the norm.
As recently as a few years ago, business owners may have been hesitant to trust their sensitive financial information to some distant third-party company. This is now changing. Cloud accounting is actually quite secure and reliable, and it has key advantages over traditional accounting software. Although the accounting industry is traditionally known be conservative, risk-averse, and slow to adopt new technologies, cloud computing is already leading to significant industry-wide changes that will have an impact on accountants everywhere.
Why Small Businesses Are Choosing Cloud Accounting Software
The recent developments in accessible, easy-to-use cloud software has created a quandary for the accounting and tax service industries. While in previous decades, a business may have hired an accountant, they now have access to software programs that allows them to handle their own bookkeeping, accounting, and taxes. They may no longer feel the need for an accountant, creating a problem for professionals in the field. This impact of online software on accounting mirrors the impact of online do-it-yourself tax software such as TurboTax, which has made it easy for individuals to quickly file their taxes without hiring an accounting service.
However, there are still opportunities for professionals to offer value-added services that go beyond what clients can do on their own with access to cloud accounting software. In fact, cloud software for accountants can actually facilitate these value-added services, helping professionals offer better insight and advice to clients.
Accounting Software-as-a-Service for Professional Accountants
Fortunately, cloud software has not completely eliminated the need for professional accountants. In fact, many cloud-based software-as-a-service offerings are geared toward accountants. They are able to leverage these technologies to streamline processes and reduce cost.
Cloud based software has some impressive benefits for professional accountants.
- Reducing the need for repetitive tasks. The new cloud approach to accounting minimizes the need for repetitive administrative tasks. This allows professionals to dedicate more time to their actual work. It can also eliminate the need for administrative staff who generally handle simple clerical work.
- Integrated document scanning. One of the most useful developments within cloud accounting has been the integration of document scanning. Invoices and other documents can be scanned, then posted automatically into the accounting system. This allows invoices to be scanned on a daily basis and entered into the system in bulk. This also helps give accountants an edge in competing with low-cost bookkeeping services for small business clients.
- Potential for new value-added accounting services. With cloud accounting software, clients can log into a portal any time to see how their business is doing. The fast real-time tracking that these programs allow is invaluable for things like tracking cash flow accurately and assessing the impact of factors like currency fluctuations. Accountants can use this data to provide valuable professional insights into a client’s profitability, efficiency, and potential for growth.
- There is no need to maintain your own servers. Cloud computing involves storing data in remote servers, where it is accessible via the internet. This removes the need for accounting firms to buy and maintain their own server infrastructure. A low monthly fee for accounting SaaS can replace the cost of secure servers and IT services.
Adapting Accounting to Changing Technologies
The accounting industry is known for being relatively slow to change, especially when it comes to new technologies. But as cloud computing continues to grow, and cloud-based SaaS continues to develop and improve, change is unavoidable. To thrive in today’s challenging economic climate, and to compete with “DIY” software solutions for small business clients, accountants can leverage the very technologies that, at first glance, might appear to be a threat to their profession. Software can’t do everything, and a professional accountant offers something that no machine can give: expert insight. Rather than posing a threat to accounting as a profession, cloud accounting software can actually improve the services that accountants can provide.