Online vs offline – why online accounting is good for business
As the world becomes more digital, the limitations of cashbooks and off-line accounting are putting businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Save time and take control of your financial management by moving to online accounting now.
What is the cloud?
Most will have heard of the concept of ‘the cloud’ but few are clear on exactly what it is. Although many think the cloud is a fairly new technology, it has been used for things like web mail and internet banking for more than 15 years.
Simply put the cloud is a part of the internet that makes data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere from any device.
The problems with offline accounting
Once traditional ‘offline’ accounting software is put in place, the software or the data it holds rarely stays up-to-date for very long. Licencing for the software may be limited to specified users, and extending licensing can be costly. With the software only usable on certain machines, data is often shared via other means such as USB drives and on email, compromising the security of the data.
Why is cloud accounting software the answer?
Online accounting or cloud accounting software can be used from any device with an internet connection. It means that business owners are able to keep on top of their company finances anytime, anywhere, from any device.
The ability to easily access business data on the move will allow you to work smarter and faster. It gives a clear view of your ‘real-time’ financial position, which puts you in control and helps you make timely business decisions.
Multi-user access means the data can, with your authority, be reviewed by your internal team and external advisors, such as your accountant, improving collaboration.
The software does not need to be installed on a device as everything is run online. It will be regularly and automatically updated by the provider with no additional effort or cost to your business.
The implementation process is user friendly. There are even applications to help convert your existing accounts data from one format to another so it can easily be moved it into the cloud.
What to look for in a good online accounting software provider
In trusting your financial data to an accounting software provider, there are key features you should look out for:
- Solid security – all access to your account should only be possible through secure password authentication. All your data should be automatically encrypted and your provider should have a backup strategy in the event of a system fail.
- Access via a variety of devices and operating platforms – access your info via any device with an internet connection. The device shouldn’t have to be specially set up as your data is all stored in the cloud.
- Detailed billing plans – many service providers will provide a monthly price plan. Explore how this will change as your business grows and as your requirements change.
- Integration with other devices and software – good accounting software will work alongside things like bank feeds and apps to update your data at the click of a button.
We’ve seen first-hand how businesses benefit from moving to cloud accounting. Generally, we recommend Xero as it’s easy to use, the entry cost is low compared to many other options and you can add new features as your business grows. We also support clients with Sage One and Quickbooks, so we can advise which of these leading cloud accounting products would work best for your business.