The Unexpected Advantages of Cloud Accounting

Cloud Accounting

The cloud has mushroomed to a business necessity.   451 Research estimates that nearly half of all workloads run in the cloud and the firm projects an increase to 60% by next year. The cloud helps us run businesses – from communicating with co-workers to collaborating on projects to booking travel and visiting a big prospect.  Think about it:  How much can you get done without an Internet connection?

The cloud becomes an even more valuable ally when you adopt it for accounting. Online accounting software makes processes easier, both in terms of decreasing steps and increasing accessibility. It feeds you real-time data and makes collaboration a snap. The benefits keep multiplying—especially when you also take advantage of the add-on services available for cloud accounting platforms.

How does online accounting work? Let’s explore how cloud accounting can help you and your business.

Cut the checks

When it’s time to pay, most businesses print checks from computer software. Checks have long been the go-to method for business payments.  But just because it is a conventional payment method doesn’t mean it’s the best way to pay. These days, printing paper checks offers more challenges than conveniences. Cloud accounting technology lets you nix checks and pay online.

Consider the steps it takes to pay with a paper check. You print the check and record the expense. Hunt down someone to sign it. Print out the invoice and staple it to the check.  Stuff both into an envelope, address and stamp it, and mail it. File the invoice and a copy of the check.  You wait for it to clear. Then you have to reconcile it.  Don’t forget the expenses surrounding paper check payments – check stock, printer cartridges, stamps, envelopes, and more.   It takes days for the check to arrive.  You probably get calls and questions from many vendors wondering about payment status or other issues.  Let’s not even think about audit time.

Most alarming is how checks compromise your company’s security. All anyone needs to defraud your company are the account, routing and check numbers. Any dishonest employee or thief can access that information with one single paper check.  

With cloud-based accounting solutions, you move to electronic payments. Bills are reviewed online, and only authorized individuals can initiate payment via ACH, eChecks, credit cards, or other means. The system tracks each person who participates – including who authorizes payment – so that transactions are audit-ready. You control when the payment proceeds by scheduling it or allowing immediate processing.

If you’re wondering about security, the best small business accounting software for payments offer the same level of digital security provided by banks. This includes encryption, password protection, permissions-based access (aka no one can participate until they are authorized to log in AND authorized to participate in certain processes and roles), and compliance with stringent government regulations. Even better: Each payment has Positive Pay protection and recipients never see your banking information. Here’s a good rundown on the type of protection you should expect for your online accounting and payments.

Focus on important tasks, delegate the others

When you adopt digital accounting in the cloud, you gain automation. Cloud accounting systems step up and become your digital accounting assistant, taking on tasks that can eat up large swaths of your time.

For example, bills enter the system online or through faxes. Automation puts it through defined review and approval workflows based on parameters such as vendor, amount, department, and more. If someone is slow to review a bill, they’ll get an automated reminder. When someone approves it, the cloud moves it on to the next step in the process. If a bill is close to a due date and needs action, an automatic notice goes out to the appropriate person.  

Simply put, say goodbye to grunt work. Your cloud-based accounting automation has you covered.

Sharing is caring

Accounting is, in many ways, a collaborative experience. Out of necessity and for security, multiple people are often involved in one way or another – employees reviewing bills, customers asking questions, accountants gathering information and sharing reports.

Collaboration can prove to be tricky, especially if you’re relying on paper or 1,000 emails to store and share information. With cloud accounting technology, you simply and unite collaboration. For example, a customer has a question about an invoice. She can click the electronic bill, enter her own portal to your company, and comment on the bill itself. You get a notice and can quickly answer online. The same process applies if the internal team is reviewing bills. All conversations are stored, archived, and available should any questions arise, or you just need a conversation refresh. You’re eliminating the hide-and-seek element of collaboration in favor of shared and secure conversations hosted by the cloud.  

Access on the go

More than 75% of Americans own a smartphone. And many of those Americans rely on their phones run their businesses. Whether it’s email, social media, banking information, or more, the more mobile their information, the better.

The best small business accounting software in the cloud mobilizes your accounting experience. Instead of being tied to a desk, physical files, or PC rooted in your office, you can conduct business as usual through your smartphone.

For example, an app on your phone sends you a push notification that you have a bill to review. By opening the app with your security protocols (fingerprint or password), you can open the bill, check payment history, access contracts and other documents related to the bill, ask questions, and approve the expense. Whether you’re in the airport, the back of a cab, or relaxing by the pool, accounting tasks that used to command a lot of time are condensed to a few swipes or taps.

All your data accurate and in real-time

Would you like to know your accurate financial information at any time? Relying on paper or separate desktop solutions means information isn’t shared between systems. If you want it to be shared, you must manually enter it into any other accounting software or wrestle with complicated uploads.

With cloud accounting, you can integrate apps. They will automatically sync information together. Bills that you pay using will appear in your general accounting software such as QuickBooks Online or Xero. You can approve an expense report in one app and it will move to for payment.  You’re no longer wrangling with your data. Instead, you have a cloud-based accounting ecosystem that syncs all your financial information and presents it to you in real-time. No data entry needed. There are no transposed numbers which compromise accuracy.  Instead, you’re perfectly integrated and in-tune cloud accounting environment ensures you have all the information you need exactly when you need it.

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August 10, 2018
Mark Gervase
Director, Product Marketing,
Mark works with accounting firms and bookkeepers to grow their businesses and achieve efficiencies through automation and cloud technologies. He is a former CPA, has a background in financial technology, and holds an MBA and BA in Economics from the University of California Berkeley.