Accounting In The Cloud, Anytime, Everywhere. Mobility means everything today. Everyone wants the information they need at their fingertips, on their phones, in an instant. Business owners, management teams, workers, and accountants are no longer chained to desks in an office. Accountants and clients alike can see information in a variety of forms on demand, no matter where they are; they can even input or update new figures as they happen from anywhere in the world.
Accounting In The Cloud, Anytime, Everywhere
Cloud computing has streamlined the transfer of bookkeeping information between businesses and their accountants. Now, as soon as a client posts financial data, the accountant can see the numbers immediately, and view any changes in real-time. As you can imagine, this innovation has greatly boosted accountants’ efficiency, and has saved a lot of time and money on both sides.
On top of that, the cloud makes software updates and upgrades easier than ever. In fact, users will hardly notice the changes, as updates are seamlessly integrated into cloud computing activities. Gone are the needs for system shutdowns, reboots, or loading programs on local drives. And if a company decides to change platforms—switching from PC to Mac, for example—their accounting software and data won’t be affected at all.
But while there are pros there are also some cons to accounting in the cloud. We’ll take a look at both in this entry.
In the past, meetings with the accountant were always on-site, and often required conference room tables where scores, if not hundreds, of documents were spread out. Accountants had to figure out what bookkeeping entries needed to be made for financial “housekeeping,” and would give a list of those entries to the client to input into their system (or the accounting team would do it for the client, in their offices). Traditionally, this would have taken place only when the accountant came to “close the books” for the period in question.
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During this process the accountant would have to make accounting adjustments to correct any client errors or prepare adjusting and closing entries. Having the accountant around more frequently could run up a huge tab, straining the budget of small businesses that were too small to have their own bookkeepers on staff.
Some programs, like QuickBooks, adapted to allow the accountant, from his own office, to access and make changes to a client’s data. Now, with so much cloud-based capability, accountants who have instant, full access to client data are the rule rather than the exception.
When the accountant needs to make changes or adjustments to a client’s records, all he has to do is connect to the information through the cloud. Should the client add or alter information, the accountant is notified, and can check the new data instantaneously.
The accountant can also create ad hoc reports, pull information for tax returns (including payroll and sales taxes, along with the company’s income taxes), and conduct some review tasks without leaving his office, or poring over pounds of paperwork. Even the arduous task of auditing a client’s books no longer requires an accountant to leave his office.
Cybersecurity is by far the biggest threat to accounting in the cloud. Sensitive and proprietary information, such as employee social security numbers or products in the research and development stages, were traditionally kept under lock and key. Today, even encrypted data can be stolen and deciphered by increasingly tech-savvy criminals.
So how can you secure accounting data in the cloud? The first thing to realize is that it will not be 100 percent guaranteed safe. Nonetheless, there is a lot you can do to make that information as protected as possible. The most important step to take is encryption. For example, before storing files on the cloud, zip them and password protect them. That way only someone with the password can open and view them. You should use long, complicated, passwords, and change them frequently. Also, if you’re using a cloud storage service, start by checking their user agreement for information about security protocols, which may include encryption services.
Prior to cloud computing, if your company’s computer was stolen, hacked, destroyed, or infected with a virus, you’d lose everything that wasn’t backed up—and the vast majority of companies were not vigilant about backing up their information daily. Now, no matter what happens to the physical computer, you can still run your business as usual, because all the data you need is available in the cloud.
And while this innovation is making accounting easier, it really is just the beginning.