Cloud computing takes a bigger chunk out of business administration each and every year. In 2013, nearly 50 percent of businesses and software developers alike added private cloud computing to their budgets. Whether it’s customer relationship management or shipping software, businesses and the software companies that cater to them are streamlining their operations with the cloud.
Among the most common and constructive ways to improve your daily business operations by shifting to a remote host is by switching to cloud-based accounting software. Your accounting information is among the most important and sensitive data in your entire business, so it may seem counter-intuitive to entrust it to another firm, but there are many reasons why the best thing you can do with your accounting data is send it to the cloud. Read on to find out just a few benefits of using a cloud accounting program.
The Almighty Dollar
Turning over your accounting needs to cloud-based software is almost always cheaper. On-site software starts at a few hundred bucks and skyrockets from there. On top of that, there are often licensing fees for multiple users, which can recur each year. There are hidden costs as well.
Unless you’re a major enterprise like a bank or healthcare institution that already has a major investment in IT, you’ll have to deal with maintenance. That can range from training employees to install and use software that can come with a steep learning curve to purchasing and maintaining databanks or servers to handle storage.
When your data is stored in the cloud, any number of employees can access your accounting data with nothing more than a password. When the software is housed on one or two computers, those computers alone are the gateway to your business’s financial spine. When you’re linked to the cloud, all of your trusted employees have access anytime from anywhere – including mobile devices. No more rushing back to the office to make a last-minute change.
Safety and Security
There is a frighteningly long list of occurrences that can compromise your business’s most valuable information. Deliberate hacking or a malicious attack can come from anonymous online criminals. Physical theft or burglary, a fire or a flood can wipe out data stored locally. When your data isn’t stored in your office, the loss of that data is one less headache you’ll have to worry about in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Back Off Backing Up
Whether it’s your baby pictures, your digital journal, or your business’s accounting information, locally stored data comes with the constant fear of crashes and data loss. The answer has always been continuous backup to data warehouses like external drives. With cloud accounting, the onus of duplicating data to a separate location is taken off of the user. The cloud host backs up your data continuously and automatically – without you having to worry or take any action.
On-site, desktop software comes in fixed packages or suites. The more comprehensive your software is, the more bells and whistles you’ll pay for that you may not need and will likely never use. Software packages are fixed and predetermined. Cloud accounting offers customizable packages in which a la carte functions and add-ons can be chosen and paid for individually. Cloud accounting can truly be tailored to each individual business’s specific needs.
Types of Cloud Accounting Software
Software like Mint is designed for sole proprietors such as freelance writers who don’t deal with payroll or do a lot of invoicing. Basic software for basic businesses, personal cloud accounting software is generally free but can cost up to $10.
Designed for small businesses with up to 10 employees, expense software such as Expensify is designed to pay bills, track spending, and handle receipts. This category of cloud software runs between $10 and $50 a month.
Invoicing software such as FreshBooks also charges a monthly fee in the range of $10-$50, but can handle the tasks of paying and tracking invoices, and tracking and managing projects. This software can list and communicate with vendors and give business owners a side-by-side profile of different vendor prices and price fluctuations.
Designed for businesses with between five and 25 employees, small business software such as QuickBooks costs between $20 and $70 a month and comes with a full range of functions such as double-entry accounting and accrual-based calculating. It can process payments, handle payroll, track inventory, and take on project management.
For companies with more than 50 employees, this super software can not only handle all of the tasks that the previous classes of software can manage, but also manages much more complicated tasks such as account reconciliation. Most importantly, enterprise software such as NetSuite can handle complicated and complex tax-related issues for large, multi-faceted companies that have multiple layers of tax, payroll, inventory, and coordination needs.
The business world is going to the cloud. With each passing year, more and more businesses are abandoning the traditional method of purchasing accounting software, installing it on one or two computers, backing it up themselves, and dealing with emergencies, hacks, or crashes that may arise. Business owners are leaving behind the expense and headache of storing data locally, employing IT teams to deal with the hardware required to house the accounting information derived from limited, pre-packaged software. There are a mountain of options, from the most basic to the most comprehensive, that can be applied to nearly any business. Find yours and head to the cloud.