Cloud accounting is shifting the way we look at business technology as it gives us access to real-time business data via our web browser.
But I'd argue that the word we should be talking about today is ‘choice’, and that cloud accounting is now one of many options available. Today, cloud accounting is a very real option for both accounting firms and their small business clients; many have made the switch to the cloud and many others are considering what the cloud could bring their business. And cloud should be considered, alongside desktop and hosted solutions that continue to be the right choice right now for thousands of businesses.
Choice forms part of the adviser mantra
As a result of rapid technology change within the accounting industry in recent years, professionals now have more choice than ever before. What was once a desktop software-dominated industry has fast become a lot more.
In my role, I’m fortunate enough to work with some of Australia’s largest accounting firms. It’s interesting to hear how they’re tackling the technology conversation with their small business clients. For the most part, accounting professionals are trying to understand each of the programs available today so that they can help their clients decide for themselves which is the best fit for supporting their growing business. It’s certainly not about accounting firms becoming software re-sellers but more about ensuring the financial management system will best support their client’s needs.
Consider the future needs of your firm
Why is choice so important? Consider just five businesses you regularly interact with. Are any the same? Consider the differences across various accounting firms. Every business is different and the way each determines value and monitors performance is likely to be different too.
I firmly believe that choice in technology for businesses is helping to drive away 'cookie cutter' solutions. Programs have traditionally been sold with a set of features for a fixed price, but this is changing too. Accounting programs being developed today will offer more flexibility in the way you choose the platform and features you need.
I’ve recently been working with an accounting firm that operates in regional NSW. The firm was very keen to move its systems online but when we tested their internet speed it simply wasn’t an option for them (side note: fast broadband for these areas could not come fast enough). Internet speed isn’t the only factor that will determine product choices. There’s no doubt that desktop accounting products today are much more feature-rich than their cloud equivalents, but this will change in the future.
The technology that your firm and your clients choose can have a big impact in the years ahead. Choice helps us to define our own path and to make decisions that are right for our business, or our clients’ businesses. If you're considering the software needs of your firm you should also consider various suppliers and look at the choice of platforms on offer that give you the most flexibility in how you run your business
I'd urge you to take a look at what’s now on offer - desktop, hosted and cloud - and to make an informed choice. I’d be interested to hear your experiences with tackling the variety of solutions and technologies available today.