By Nadine Chetty BAP(SA)
The accounting industry has transformed in recent times. Technology advancements, cloud computing, a younger and more connected workforce as well as the changing demands of clients have reshaped the accounting industry completely. The challenge is to harness technology effectively so that accounting practices thrive as the sector continues to evolve.
If you have ever considered moving your practice to the cloud, now is the perfect time. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world hard; firms are being thrown out of their comfort zones and are being forced to move to the cloud or risk plummeting profits. Running your office remotely is the new norm and the answer lies in the cloud.
What is the cloud?
We all use cloud technology regularly; it could be the app you use to check your bank balance or a file sharing tool like Dropbox or even Microsoft Office 365. Basically the cloud lets you access data remotely.
Cloud accounting software has all the same features as your desktop version. It just allows you to access client data via the internet, anywhere and at any time from almost any device (computer, tablet or smartphone). No data is stored on your computer, instead it’s stored on secure servers in the cloud, where it is protected.
The hardware and software are managed by the vendor, for my practice we use QuickBooks Online Accountant and for our clients, we use QuickBooks Online.
What are the benefits?
Most accountants understand the benefits of moving their practice to the cloud, they know it can make them more efficient and allow them to provide accounting services more easily and at a lower cost, yet they are still a bit nervous about the idea.
Let us look at the “Why”:
- Improved access – you and your clients can access their financial data anywhere and at any time
- Efficiency – automating manual processes provides enormous productivity savings which will allow you and your team more time to spend on lucrative advisory work
- Accuracy – there is just one source of financial data, error-prone manual processes are eliminated
- Advisory – real-time access to client data makes it easier than ever before to collaborate and deliver advisory services
- Lower costs – it is much more cost effective than traditional desktop accounting programs
- Integration – You and your clients can access a variety of fully integrated solutions that will leverage the data in your accounting system.
It is vital that we transform to meet the evolving needs of our customers. Change is rapid and constant in today’s increasingly consumer-centric world. The net result is that companies rise and fall faster than ever. The real-time data access that cloud accounting provides allows accountants to stay connected 24/7 to their clients’ financial data. This means they can more easily identify trends or issues and advise clients when corrective action is required.
Migrate to the cloud
Just as salmon investigate far-off environments in search of resources, businesses should be constantly exploring new opportunities too (for instance, less competition or cheaper solutions).
In the digital ecosystem the costs of exploratory migration are low, but the price of standing still is high, due to the changing environment. For example, a great way to get your clients onto cloud could be getting Certified on QuickBooks Online Accountant. Once certified not only do you get to join the ProAdvisor directory, you also receive wholesale pricing at 50% off QuickBooks Online package for the life of the file which you may choose to pass onto clients.
Let’s face it, our clients’ needs are changing; we no longer have clients who purely want to keep SARS happy. Many clients are interested in their monthly, even daily financial. So, we as accountants need to change our mindset of how the traditional model used to work and adapt to the change.
Attracting talented people
Besides changing client needs, the staff that we are hiring are also younger and have different needs than when we started our careers. They are digital natives and crave the accessibility that cloud accounting provides. Our businesses need to adapt in order to attract younger employees if we do not evolve, we may struggle to attract talented people to our practices.
Building firms for the future
The ultimate question is, how do we as accountants and firms provide a great service to our clients and become both digital and more human-centric. Let’s focus on building our firms for the future. With the help of cloud technology and online accounting, this is possible.
This is the first of a four-part series on Transforming your practice with Online Accounting, look out for the next article. If you are ready to make the change, click here for more information or to try QuickBooks Online Accountant.
About the author
Nadine Chetty is an Accountant and Cloud Accounting Specialist. She is also a QuickBooks Certified Advisor and a member of the QuickBooks Trainer/Writer Network. Nadine is based in Johannesburg and the co-founder of Ecomm Accounting Solutions. The practice provides clients with Accounting, Bookkeeping, Tax Preparation, Training, Payroll, Invoice Processing and Business Consulting Services.