I’m a big fan of cloud accounting. Actually, all cloud software. I guess the correct term would be SAAS, short for Software As A Service. Whatever you want to call it I like it. I’ve been on the cloud for decades. Made me feel so techie and cool. Kinda of the “boldly go where no man has gone before” attitude. I can remember firing up my Radio Shack TRS-80 (I still have it up in the attic, but don’t tell my wife) to dial up Compuserve to log onto some bulletin boards. Ah the 80’s. We’ve come a long way, eh?
I imagine email was the first real tool we all started using. Eventually replacing the fax. Which expanded to online calendars, to do lists, etc.
Over the years, as a CPA running my own firm we had bundles of software packages to assist us in processing our client’s books and preparing taxes. All of which we hosted on our inhouse computers. Maintaining networks and various support systems to manage and provide quality client services while still making a reasonable profit. One of our most stressful priorities was keeping our client’s data safe and secure. This, of course, was not new to our industry. Long before computers became common place, keeping our clients’ books safe was always part of the job.
Maintaining these inhouse computer networks as we all have learned is not cheap and is very annoying. But a necessary evil to keep productivity levels up. So, when a colleague introduced me to the concept of hosting some of our software packages on the internet I was more than intrigued. The service at the time was referred to a ‘Server Farm’. The technical term was ASP or Application Service Provider. We could put our client’s QuickBooks file on the server farm and both we and the client would have direct access. And in one move, gone were the time-consuming routines and headaches, too numerous to list them all here, but things like backing up, getting the most recent version, network troubles. They were all gone. And at a reasonable cost. Can you see me smiling? For our company, it was beautiful thing. Our clients benefited just as equally. We could be helpful accountants all the time and not computer nerds some of the time.
Cloud accounting and computing was born. And we ain’t looked back. We now host all our software packages on the cloud. No more version issues. No more ‘is it the software or our network’ questions. We just learn and get good at using our software and help our clients.
Are you getting the feeling I like cloud computing? For the rest of this discussion I’ll do my best to be open minded about your concerns, but truthfully my view is tainted. Sorry “I am what I am and that’s all that I am” (Popeye, The Sailor Man)!
All you need is an internet connection. Only one word in missing there. “Fast” Seriously, you need fast internet. The good news is fast internet has come down in price and is becoming available everywhere. Even mobile devices have speeds sufficient to transact business. Maybe not for data entry. But in this ‘Gotta have Gimmick’ world much of your data entry should be automated. What can’t be automated should be dealt with at your desk. But for review and research the mobile device speeds are plenty.
The accessibility elephant in the room that I haven’t mentioned yet is:
Mom, the Internet’s Down!
Here’s how we deal with that rather rare occasion. HOTSPOT! We live in North San Diego County, about as far north and still be in San Diego County as you can get, The Avocado Capital of the World, Fallbrook. It’s not rural but it ain’t Gotham City either. The internet doesn’t go out that often. When t does, we pull out our phones and hotspot. Is it as fast as our cable service, no. But we’re able to continue working until the cable comes back on. Usually within the hour. One time during this last tax season, it went down for a couple hours. We survived.
I’m sure this is a big question when small businesses consider moving their bookkeeping to the cloud especially with all the hacking stories we hear about. But I’m here to tell you that the computers in your office are more vulnerable to the very same hacking threats. Who do you think has the resources to create a more secure environment, your company with less than $100 anti-virus and anti-malware applications or companies like Intuit. These cloud providers have entire departments dedicated solely to keeping their customers’ data secure. They have multiple facilities spread throughout the country protecting our files not only from hacking but from any number of various physical disasters as well.
This is one of the best reasons for moving to the cloud. Real-time facts and numbers are now available to the whole crew, wherever they are. Including your outside accountant and other support consultants. It’s a known fact, a well-informed sales person sells more. Successful entrepreneurs understand the ability to access accurate and timely reports is the difference between average and outstanding results.
Automation and Integration.
Cloud accounting, using plugins and apps that integrate and automate the data entry processes, has created a powerful and efficient bookkeeping system. One that is easy to use and now available to the small business owner.
Gone are the days of worrying about getting the bookkeeping done. Welcome to a reporting system that helps manage and measure our efforts.
Can I get an Amen?
What shape are your books in?