From our close interaction with thousands of accountants, we have learned that most accountants:
- Want to begin to migrate to the cloud, if they haven't already done so; and
- Share some apprehension about the potential risks of cloud migration.
Another fact we uncovered is that many accountants are unaware of the tremendous benefits the cloud offers to accountants. Making the 3 Ps (Product, Process, and Solution Partner) your guiding factors can minimize your risk and maximize your rewards, but the most important factor for harnessing the cloud is the fourth P – your Passion. Your passion for your practice will lead you to find innovative ways to harness the cloud to revamp your practice in ways you never thought possible.
Obviously, the first thing necessary to harness the cloud is to choose software that both takes advantage of the remarkable capabilities of the cloud to overcome the challenges you currently face and creates new opportunities for you. This requires a completely fresh approach to software design.
For example, with accounting software, Do-it-Yourself (DIY) solutions, created for small businesses, have dominated accounting on the desktop. Despite the limitations of this kind of software, and the problems this approach created for accountants, DIY software was the only viable option on the desktop. Most accounting software producers, including Intuit, Xero, and Sage, have chosen to use the same DIY approach for their cloud solutions.
Other solution providers, including AccountantsWorld and Thomson Reuters, have taken a different approach. They have created solutions that take full advantage of the one of the most important capabilities of the cloud: collaboration. These solution providers have created professional accounting systems that include not only powerful trial balance and financial reporting, but also complete bookkeeping capabilities. In these systems, accountants work collaboratively with their clients while retaining the power to customize their services to best serve each client’s needs. This unique approach makes it easier for accountants to offer complete accounting services.
When choosing a software product, be sure to evaluate solutions based on both models - the DIY model and the new accountant-focused, collaborative professional model - to see which offers more benefits for your practice.
On the desktop, integration between different applications makes data exchange between applications seamless. The cloud takes integration between applications to a higher level, making it possible to use integration between different applications to greatly streamline your workflow. For example, with the seamless integration of a cloud-based payroll system like Payroll Relief with Excel spreadsheets, bank ACH processing systems, and IRS and state e-filing and tax payment systems, payroll processing becomes highly efficient and virtually painless, with no compliance headaches. This has enabled thousands of accountants to offer highly profitable payroll services to their clients. Similarly, integrating accounting systems with smart phones, document management systems, and bank ACH systems makes offering bill payment services easy, efficient, and profitable.
To take advantage of these capabilities, you will need to re-evaluate and re-engineer your own internal processes, and to align your business model with technological advances. Fixed fee and value pricing have become the new norm for maximizing firm profitability and client satisfaction.
When evaluating cloud solutions, make sure to analyze how well the solutions you consider can streamline your workflow and processes to increase efficiency and productivity.
Accountants know how important having the right partner can be for a firm. Having the right solutions partner is just as important for the success of your firm.
For many accounting and payroll solution providers, your small business clients are their primary customers, and accountants are only secondary customers. However, there are solution providers whose only customers are accountants, and who are focused on accountants’ needs.
When evaluating cloud solutions, it is important to factor in your potential solution partner’s long-term commitment to your success in your decision-making process.
We hope you’ve found this short guide useful for your cloud strategy. Please contact me with any additional questions.
About the author
Dr. Chandra Bhansali (CBhansali@AccountantsWorld.com) is the Co-Founder and CEO of AccountantsWorld – a leader in cloud solutions for accountants. AccountantsWorld offers innovative solutions for accounting, payroll processing, practice management, and much more. AccountantsWorld has helped thousands of accountants revamp their practices by harnessing the cloud. Learn more at AccountantsWorld.com.