Why every Cloud has a Silver Lining

Why every Cloud has a Silver Lining

In recent years, there has been a huge change in the market in terms of business acceptability of cloud based software solutions, which in turn has led to a difference in the way forward thinking accountants interact and work with their clients. As Debbie Boulton at Richardson Swift has seen, gone are the times where a Sage back up on floppy disk would be passed to your accountant months after the year end, with the production of a set of accounts some months later, bearing no resemblance to how you thought your business had performed. These days, even the smallest of businesses, are able to access accurate management information on a timely basis and receive input from their accountant throughout the year, resulting in no nasty year end surprises. Here, Debbie discusses cloud accounting and outsourcing, how they interlink, and why they would work for your business.

What is Cloud Accounting?

Cloud Accounting, in simple terms, refers to accounting software that is internet based. So as a user this means you don't purchase software up-front that has a CD to install from a box, but you register and log-in to the specific users software from your internet connection. This also means your data file isn't stored on your own computer/network, but is stored on the provider’s server and data storage systems. Some of the market leaders are Xero, Sage One, QuickBooks Online and FreeAgent.

How does this link with Outsourcing?

For accountants embracing cloud technology, and wanting to be a key partner in their client’s business, they can offer SMEs an outsourced solution for their finance function linked with Cloud Accounting. Outsourcing, to some extent, has always happened, with businesses using their accountants for the preparation of their payroll or VAT returns. What Cloud Accounting has allowed, is the scope of outsourced functions to increase, with an easier way to access client data across the internet.

What would be right for my business?

This is something which your accountant will need to assess with you, and can vary from producing quarterly management accounts, to providing a fully outsourced finance department where your accountant and their staff act remotely as your finance function.

For SMEs, Cloud Accounting and Outsourcing enables them to work with their accountant, sharing financial information on a regular basis. This may take the form of a monthly one page snap shot of your businesses key figures, to a more detailed management accounts pack tailored to your needs. With so many variants available, no business should still just be hearing from their accountant once a year when the tax bill is due!

So where’s the Silver Lining?

There are many benefits to your business of Cloud Accounting, including access to data wherever you are and via numerous devices, no upfront costs, improved functionality such as automatic bank feeds, and sharing of real time information.

Combine this with outsourcing and the result is a powerful tool to ensure your business has timely, accurate financial data whenever it’s needed. And why is this key? Because having meaningful financial information enables you to make informed business decisions, manage your cashflow, carry out accurate tax planning, identify trends in your business, monitor pricing & margins and make changes at the right time and meet your banks/investors need for information.

There are also cost and time savings to be had from outsourcing, with no need to commit to the expense of extra staff, and no concerns about coverage if staff are away. It is also extremely flexible, outsourcing can be scaled up or down as your business changes, with the only change being an adjustment to the monthly fee.

Final thoughts

With the current economic environment still pretty tough for businesses, being on top of your financial position is key. Yet for most SMEs, the cost of recruiting more finance staff is too high to consider, and the owners of the business just don’t have the time to look after the finances themselves. For a reasonable cost, you can use Cloud Accounting/Outsourcing and be confident the finances of your businesses are up to date and in control. As Debbie says, “One client recently quoted to me ‘I had a clearer picture and understanding of my business within the first month of outsourcing my management accounts to you, than I’d had over four years of being with my previous advisor’”. Now that’s a silver lining!

Please contact Debbie Boulton to discuss the merits of Cloud Accounting and Outsourcing and receive a FREE no-obligation quote for your business.