Cloud Accountancy: a craze or the future?

Cloud accountancy is something pretty much most business owners have been hearing for the past few years. So, what is it? Is it about your accountant working on an airplane? Well…it is that plus a whole lot more. We are well within the 21st century and already most people are connected to the internet almost continuously through mobile devices, or what is slowly becoming obsolete, a desktop PC. Apps and the web are bringing information to our fingertips and financial information for a business owner shouldn’t be in any manner different. Cloud accounting software is simply an accounting app that is always available to you provided that of course you are connected to the internet.

Let’s talk first about “the cloud” aspect. In general cloud computing is just the collection of IT infrastructure located in one or more datacentres and it is always connected online. This can relate to not just data sitting on a datacentre but also to the processing of the data on these servers. Think of it as a powerful computer where you can control what it does using just your smartphone, tablet or laptop, i.e. a much weaker computer, and just getting the information that you need. This is not something entirely new at all, websites have been hosted on datacentres since the 90s. You can also host your own server and be available online 24-7. What cloud computing does is that it enables you to do more, at a much faster pace and at a much cheaper price.

Still not everything is a piece of cake and harnessing this huge new and rapidly changing world of cloud computing is a challenge. This is the challenge that a lot of startups and existing tech companies are undertaking for the past decade or so by creating web and mobile apps that are leveraging the cloud to deliver a service to their customers. This is either by transforming an existing desktop app to a cloud based one or by making an entirely new cloud app from the onset. Accountancy software hasn’t fallen behind this trend either.

The late-20th century accounting norm for small businesses was to issue invoices in some kind of desktop app, put all receipts and supplier invoices in a shoebox and ship them off to the accountant’s office. The accountant would collate everything once a year, put again all the info in another accounting software and prepare the accounts and tax returns for the business, well after the year end. Accounting departments within larger businesses would have to procure both servers and software licenses to install and host at their premises a pretty complicated accounting system that required hours of training. All of this needed maintenance and upgrades meaning continuous costs and re-training.

Cloud accountancy software eliminates pretty much everything that’s been said in the previous paragraph. The software is now cloud based meaning that it is available to the business owner, it’s employees and the accountant all at the same time. Everyone is finally on the same page! You don’t need to install anything just simply log in online or through a mobile app. The user interface is greatly improved, refined and intuitive so with just minimal training you and your staff can learn to use it. These apps are pretty much homogenous throughout the world except for small regional differences and this enables standardised training videos and global communities that provide support. All of these for the price of nice steak at a good restaurant…drinks excluded!