It may be cliche already, but “Moving To The Cloud” is the single most important move a company can make. So much more than just websites and banner ads, “The Cloud” is already home to some of the most powerful automation software ever invented. Aggressive companies will improve every aspect of their business by embracing cloud technologies — from HR and marketing to operations to finance and accounting… but particularly finance and accounting!
Moving financial data to the cloud provides flexibility, ease of use and security. It can improve cash flow, provide dashboards and automate the most important (and mundane) tasks. Online accounting will transform the way your business runs. But that’s just the beginning. Every other business system will eventually be online and must connect to the accounting system. Using an online accounting system will be the single most important move you’ll make… if you follow these 7 rules:
1. Commit Fully
Hands down, cloud-based software is going to save you money. Online software requires no maintenance, upgrades, or new hardware to run correctly, so it is always less expensive than its desktop counterpart. Businesses have saved thousands by moving their software from local servers to the cloud — then ditching the servers (and the IT department?)!
2. Make it Mobile
Of course the cloud is mobile — so use it that way. Forget desktop computers and go for cloud solutions that work well on any desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone… then use them! Now instead of data coming to the system, you can take the system to the data. Enter sales transactions at your client’s location, create purchase orders on the job, manage inventory in the warehouse and more – all from wherever the data is being generated. Of course you know QuickBooks Online and Xero, the two leading cloud packages. But you can also get full cloud services from companies like CloudDesktopOnline and CloudAppsPortal — good platforms for hosting desktop accounting packages and more.
3. Go All-In with Accounting
Cloud accounting systems are multifaceted and can handle much more than just the general ledger. The more data you feed into it, the more return you’ll get. Commit to using the full feature set — then see how much further you can push it with add-ons and plug-ins for inventory control, merchant services, banking, etc.
Make your cloud accounting system the foundation of a complete set of business applications. Choose HR systems, marketing tools, CRM, workflow applications, project management and business analytics that synch with (or export to) your accounting system. Connect everything to the accounting system.
5. Connect Everyone
Give every person in your organization – staff, outsourced workers, consultants and remote teams – access to the data they need and the systems to capture data they create. Keep them mobile and close to their work. Empower them to use the cloud tools and train them on best practices.
6. Measure Your Success
As you move everything online, it’s vital to measure your success. Track both hard metrics like days of cash flow, and also soft metrics, like customer satisfaction. Track simple usage metrics too, because staff acceptance is key to keeping the systems current.
7. Don’t Slide Backwards
Like all changes, the road to automation and online apps is going to be bumpy. You might not love it at first, and it might take time to train staff, but don’t let initial jitters scare you back to paper and pencil or an Excel-based accounting system!
Eventually your cloud will become a powerful hurricane of data — with the calm eye of accounting at the center. When your team is connected to and by the accounting system, they are also connected to every other key data source — and each other. Every action flows through the accounting function – so as everyone feeds accounting the data they need, the team moves faster and gains efficiency.
Once you commit, connect, and see your company succeed, I bet you’ll never look back. Stay tuned for my next installment on cloud accounting, which will focus on the online accounting software Xero.
Dedicated to your Cloud Success, Lucy Godwin
Guest blogger, Lucy Godwin is an outreach writer at Xero accounting software, living in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s a tireless advocate for the small business, startup and entrepreneur community. Connect with her on Twitter @LucyJaneGodwin