We are bombarded with the cloud these days.
It started with buying books, then storing our photos on the cloud, and then before we knew it the internet became our tool for doing just about everything.
Now cloud accounting is the hot topic of the day, with all manner of products from core packages, such as Xero and QuickBooks Online, to connected apps such as Receipt Bank, Data Molino, Futrli, Fluidly, Chaser and iZettle to name but a few.
However, all the hype seems to take as given that we understand the value of these tools and want to use them. The big question, which is not always so clearly answered, is why. How is the new generation of accounting tools better than those that came before them and why will they benefit your business?
It’s all about the people
For most business, the most critical resource is people (I know – not what you expected from a cloud blog). This is as true for a one person consultancy business as it is for a global powerhouse listed on markets around the world.
The success of these businesses will be driven, at least in part, by how effectively they utilise this resource. Are the people that power our businesses being utilised as effectively as they could be?
For years, our finance teams have been entering sales invoices, purchase invoices records, and bank statements into the records; essentially entering data from one place to another was a big part of the role.
What if it didn’t have to be this way?
Using modern accounting packages and connected apps, this whole process can be streamlined. Your sales team can raise invoices directly in the accounting package, even when they are out and about, or they can be imported en-mass so there is no need to re-enter them. Recurring invoices can even be set to raise themselves and send themselves to your clients without you even having to lift a finger.
Purchase invoices can be emailed into the system, all the pertinent detail read, and the purchase posted into the accounts based on a set of rules, or flagged for review. Invoices can even be collected from your online account for, say, your utility provider, your phone provider and others, to feed directly into the accounts without any staff time being taken up at all.
Your bank transactions can be downloaded straight from your bank so that they don’t need to be re-entered, and the package will be able to suggest which invoice they relate to based on the amounts, references and payee; so that they can posted, matched and reconciled with a single click.
I am not going to tell you that these tools will remove people from the process entirely – they will not. But what these tools will do is significantly reduce the time spent on data entry and what amounts to little more than reading information from one place and entering it into another. It is not about the computer taking your job.
Automation and putting in place the right processes will free up both your time and that of your finance team, meaning you can undertake tasks and projects to really drive your business forward. Maybe it is better credit control to get the cash in, reviewing the financing of the business to bring down the cost of borrowing, undertaking development projects, or even going out and selling to drive up turnover. Whatever it may be, it is better use of your staff’s time that can, in turn, benefit your business.
The functions mentioned above are really just the tip of the iceberg of what these packages can offer you, and I have not really mentioned the host of available online POS systems, finance products, credit control tools and others.
If you would like to discuss how the cloud could benefit your business, or for assistance with cloud implementation, please get in touch.