Market analyst IDC predicts that spending on public IT cloud services will hit £46bn in 2015 (up from £13bn in 2010). Cloud technologies are no longer up in the air, it’s now a reality for many innovative businesses, regardless of size, to access their technology in a ‘virtual’ environment.
As cloud becomes mainstream and security concerns diminish, companies should also consider the benefits of moving their finances to the cloud too. According to the Cloud Industry Forum, 29% of SMEs already use cloud-based accounting, so what is the appeal and why might now be the right time to reach for the sky?
Here are the 8 key reasons why you could benefit from cloud-based accounting in both the short and long term:-
- Lower costs and no upfront capital costs - solutions are typically charged on a monthly subscription basis, allowing you to pay for what you use e.g. volume of transactions
- Better control over cash-flow - Taking advantage of new and extended functionality such as real-time dashboards will give you the ability to make more informed decisions
- Additional security and resilience - All data is held remotely and is automatically backed up so in the event of fire or any other disaster you are assured that you can be up and running again with minimal downtime
- Less IT infrastructure required internally - You don’t need to buy the servers/PCs to support running the accounting software yourself
- Reduced staff overheads - Fewer support staff are required to manage the system, liberating resources to be re-assigned to more productive activities such as credit control
- Support for Flexible/Mobile/Remote Working - Accounts can be accessed remotely, anytime and anywhere on any device from an iPhone to a Blackberry, making it ideal for multiple sites, home workers or staff on the move.
- Greater scope for IT integration – with sophisticated cloud accounting solutions you can get other applications such as your CRM to update information automatically so all systems are in sync with each other
- Fast implementation time – With a new on-premise accounting solution it could take a few months to install and get fully trained on the system, but with a cloud-based option, you can be up and running in a matter of hours - ideal for start-ups or fast-growing companies that don’t want to waste unnecessary time and resources.
Is security an issue?
The reasons for adopting a cloud strategy are convincing, yet there is often reluctance to move from an on-premise solution that is managed in-house. The arguments surrounding whether your data is safe in the cloud can be easily discounted, as providers are likely to offer at least the same if not better protection of data than you could internally. However you should ask your provider where your data will be stored, as you could be contravening data protection legislation if it is held somewhere overseas.
How do you select the right system?
One of the main issues is how a solution integrates with your other key back office systems such as a CRM database. When selecting a system, you should ask the supplier about the range of functionality. Is it ‘open’ so it will integrate easily with other critical systems? Will it be straightforward to blend and share data simply? Remember that there is a huge amount of choice out there, so be careful to match your wish-list with what is being offered.
The advantage of cloud-based accounting is that you don’t need to compromise; you can expect the type of functionality that you would expect from a corporate system, but with an affordable price tag. For ambitious, growing companies, a cloud offering is ideal because it gives you the accounting features you need now and in the future, as well as driving business performance and profitability.
Julian Sayer is the Sales & Operations Director at Accounting software vendor, bluQube