If you’re a CPA and haven’t moved your business to the cloud, you’re far from alone. According to the most recent Sage Accountancy Index survey, only 10 percent of accounting professionals use cloud solutions to collaborate and share information with their clients. But that may be about to change as more CPAs realize the benefits of operating in the cloud – both for themselves and their clients. The cloud enables accounting firms to:
Create a more satisfying, productive work environment.
Moving to the cloud affords accounting firm employees a superior level of freedom and flexibility. Because the cloud makes it possible to securely access accounting applications and client data from anywhere with an internet connection, employees can work remotely – whether they’re preparing tax forms or meeting with clients.
The cloud also makes it easier for employees to work collaboratively, using cloud-based applications that specifically support document sharing. This “Software as a Service” aspect of operating a CPA firm in the cloud also provides automatic application updates to ensure employees always have the latest tools.
There’s a future benefit underlying these aspects of accounting in the cloud, too. As an older generation of accountants prepares to retire, cloud technologies may help attract newly minted CPAs. In an AccountingWEB interview, the president and CEO of CPA.com put it like this:
“If firms want to attract millennials, know what they are looking for… And it all starts with cloud technology: attending internal meetings, using things such as video, desktop-sharing tools, meeting with clients in that fashion, managing workflow in the firm with cloud-based tools, and automating the inputs.”
Provide the access and control clients want.
Employees aren’t the only ones who enjoy having flexible access to information in the cloud – clients also benefit. Cloud-based portals provide 24/7 access to tax forms and other documents, so clients can review and digitally sign the latest versions at their convenience instead of their accountant’s. This goes a long way toward eliminating the client burden of saving and storing voluminous paper records. Of course, clients always have the option to download and print documents; but with the cloud, they’re no longer forced to.
Although convenience is a big plus for clients, it’s not the only benefit of cloud-based portals. The cloud creates another channel of communication between CPA and client – a place where you can share your thinking on a variety of strategic questions and challenges, and engage with clients in ways that strengthen the client-CPA bond.
All of this is consistent with the results of an accounting practice management study in which 90 percent of participating CPAs said that the delivery of digital business processes to clients would become a key differentiator for accounting firms. Clearly, the cloud has a major role to play in making that happen.
Do business securely, and at a lower IT cost.
According to a survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), accounting professionals’ top three IT priorities are security, data management and privacy. No surprise there; after all, CPAs are in the business of dealing with clients’ highly sensitive financial information, which no doubt accounts for their reluctance to move to the cloud. However, there are also security advantages to being in the cloud.
Take protecting data from physical loss, for example. Because data in cloud-based SaaS applications is housed offsite, it’s safe in the event of fire, flood or other disasters that threaten an accounting firm’s physical offices. What’s more, backup technologies add another layer of data protection in the cloud.
Finally, cloud computing also lowers technology costs by reducing the need for physical infrastructure and hardware, and by shifting costs from a licensing model to a less costly subscription service model.
So, go ahead: Take all the time you need to make the move to the cloud. The sooner you get there, the sooner you’re going to start seeing more satisfied employees and clients. As always, we invite you to contact us with any questions or concerns about moving to the cloud.
The purpose of this blog is to answer the questions you ask! MyITpros offers a comprehensive cloud computing solution for businesses which you can learn about here. We encourage you to check out our resources page for some great information around cloud computing and managed services!