Why does Cloud Computing impact on Accountants more than others

IT For Accountants - cloud-accounting-800x480Why is the cloud impacting accountants so much?

Businesses use a large variety of software packages for account and payroll purposes – Sage, Xero, Big Red Book & Thesaurus to name just a few. Correspondingly, an Accountancy firm with a variety of business clients will need to be competent in the use of that same variety of software packages. That’s a significant challenge!.

“Of all the types of clients we deal with, accountants are interfacing with a greater variety of 3rd party software than our clients in any other sectors” says Gavin Dixon, Managing Director, Business I.T. Solutions.

Accountants have always had to be versatile and tolerant of other ways of doing business in order to do what they do. They need to understand their clients’ many business systems and processes. IT solutions for accountants have to be just as tolerant and versatile.

An accountancy practice needs to manage its own internal IT systems and development while at the same time be able to deal with IT for their clients who likely operate in an array of IT configurations and systems. That can range from a client who wants or needs to keep everything in-house or a client who wants to connect to a cloud system. In IT terms, this can mean any number of options. However, core to any business practice is a robust network.

Most business owners and managers know that the cloud has changed our idea of being up to date with how our business is doing, none more so than accountants. Not too long ago annual accounts had to be completed before anyone knew for sure how a business was performing. With cloud computing, businesses can have up to the hour, even minute, financial information that can be fully accessible and managed by their accountant. With CRM and ERP systems fully integrated and on-line, data being input live by mobile sales people, logistics, accounts, etc., a business owner can get a picture of the state of affairs in a given moment. This means that accountants are less about book-keeping and more about financial advice and consultation than ever before – real management accounting.

Data is everything in accountancy – where it is and who can see it. Moving data to the cloud is not always possible or advisable and the accountant needs to be able to consider that for their own business and to be able to offer some advice on this to clients. “Our experience has shown that there is a good general understanding of cloud computing among accountants. However, the implications of migrating to the cloud isn’t always clear and that’s where we come in. We work very closely with our accountant clients in order to help them offer the best service they can to their clients, while protecting their own and their clients’ data.” As Gavin says – “We advise the advisor!”

The migration of businesses to cloud solutions thankfully has been gradual. This allows for systems to be tried and tested. The whole area of IT is a fast moving and changing environment. If you are considering making some changes – ask the experts.

Generally speaking, accountants and financial controllers like the idea of the cloud – it saves money, and that’s a language we all speak. The benefits are significant and can include a reduction in capital outlay for servers and physical space, reductions in energy bills, reductions in back-up systems, less IT support required on the ground, and automatic updates to software for the easy maintenance of compatibility.

In addition to all of that, when dealing with a client who has cloud based solutions in place, the accountant doesn’t have to leave his/her own office when looking for up to the minute data from a client site. A lot of time and energy is saved when the accountant can get, without having to jump in a car, all the access they need to a client’s data.

This saved time, in conjunction with greater access to live data means better results for the client. It also means data is synchronised thereby removing the issue of multiple versions of data. Better management accounting means greater insight into real-time information which in turn allows for more informed decisions by business owners. Accountants can become consultants and advisors in ways to smaller businesses which until now have not been possible due to time and budgetary constraints.

With the expectation of access to “real time”, financial and non-financial information being more and more realistic, reliance on a stable network is more significant than ever. If you can’t get on the internet with good bandwidth, you can find yourself limited in terms of what you can do. A good network is becoming increasingly important to running an accountancy business. Having a “fail-over” internet connection, and/or routers optimised to make better use of fibre connections etc., are all services BITS offer.

At BITS we work with many accountancy firms from the very large to the sole trader. We have experience of all the commonly used accounts packages on the market. We have developed strong working relationships with these software providers over the years – a relationship our clients benefit from. We managed their IT so they don’t have to. We understand our clients business and work with them to help them achieve their business goals using technology.

If you would like more information on what BITS can do for you or your business please give us a shout on: sales@bits.ie or 056-7786882.