5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cloud Based Accounting
The leap from paper letters and faxes and overnight deliveries to email was welcomed by most individuals and businesses. Email is immediate. It’s cheaper. You can reach huge numbers of people around the globe by simply supplying a mailing list and clicking “Send.” We didn’t know at the start how tremendously email would change communications, but we do now. And we wouldn’t go back.
Cloud-based accounting has been a reality for more than a decade, and it’s a long way from being the most popular choice for keeping the books. Roughly half of U.S. small businesses are still using paper methods (with maybe some Excel mixed in), unwilling to even use desktop accounting software.
Look familiar? Transaction forms in cloud-based accounting applications look like their paper counterparts.
But applications that are hosted on websites have numerous benefits beyond the most obvious one: anytime/anywhere access to your accounting data. True, they share some of these with desktop accounting software. But the cloud isn’t going away.
Which leads us to the first thing you may not know about cloud-based accounting:
- We’ll all be managing our finances online someday. The most development and innovation are occurring on websites, much more so than is occurring in the desktop world. The best accounting sites are very close to providing the same bookkeeping capabilities as are found on those installable CDs. In some cases, they do things differently. They also have at least the potential to do things better and faster.
- Cloud-based accounting applications are not limited by their own boundaries. If the site you choose isn’t quite powerful enough in, say, inventory-management, there’s an app for that. Countless developers are building applications that focus on one element of finance, like bills and expenses, CRM, payroll and HR, and reporting. These solutions are built specifically to integrate with the accounting applications themselves, so it’s easy to make the connection.
- Mobile apps for web-based accounting applications are quite advanced. The accounting sites themselves, of course, can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. But there’s not always a desktop PC or laptop nearby. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can download the free app and log onto the site using the credentials you use on the browser-based version. Features vary, but you should at least be able to access customer information, account balances, and some transactions.
You can do a lot of your bookkeeping tasks on the mobile apps that are available for cloud-based accounting solutions.
- Reports can be customized and exported – even to desktop Excel. After you’ve entered records and transactions, you’ll want an easy, quick way to view data that shares some of the same attributes, like all of your aged payables and receivables, your open invoices, and income/expenses by customer. Cloud-based accounting applications come with dozens of report templates. You select the one you want to run, change dates, periods, etc., and your information appears in a spreadsheet-like format. If you want to work with it in another format, you can usually export it in at least Excel and PDF format – sometimes, even Google Docs.
- Cloud-based application developers take steps to make their sites exceptionally secure. There are a lot of acronyms that can be used to describe the level of security implemented in these solutions, but suffice it to say that developers employ the same level of security that financial institutions do. Your data is backed up to at least one remote server that is guarded around the clock. And because the applications and your company files are stored in the cloud, you never have to worry about things like program updates or software troubleshooting. This is all done for you automatically.
Not sure which application you should use? Ask your financial advisor. He or she keeps up with what’s available in this space, and can steer you in the right direction, in addition to helping with implementation and training. Cloud-based accounting applications are more obust than ever, and you’ll be pleased about how they can improve your workflow.