Cloud-based software has quickly taken over the digital world, outpacing desktop software in a number of ways and providing newfound benefits for many industries, including accounting and audit. But what is cloud software? It’s a digital program or service, storage database, network and central hub that can be accessed over the internet (“the cloud”) rather than simply on a local desktop computer.
Through cloud software, accounting teams are able to plug into their accounting software from any device and location, as long as they have internet access. Accountants and clients are able to communicate more seamlessly than ever before.
In a world where remote work has become increasingly predominant, cloud software has made all the difference for modern accounting firms. Here are some of the benefits that you can find by using cloud-based software over desktop.
Because cloud software isn’t local, it makes it much easier to communicate with clients through the software itself. In the past, accountants would work through their desktop software and then send emails of reports or relevant documents to clients. Those clients would email back, and then the accountants could work any new information into the data on their local software. If an email was lost in the shuffle, an accountant could lose key information. This invariably results in an unsatisfactory experience for everyone involved.
Cloud computing cuts through the middle and allows clients and accountants to both work through the cloud software. An accountant can give their client access to their files within the software and communicate deadlines, upcoming changes and any relevant information to them through the application.
Cloud software will also automatically send email notifications so that nothing is missed. But the exchange of communication won’t be reliant on email exchanges — or even on saving those emails.
Managing files on desktop software comes with a headache’s worth of challenges. For one thing, you have to be in the office and at your desk in order to access the files you need. But many modern accounting firms have employees who work remotely or need to access files while meeting with a client out of the office. Your local software files may need to be converted in order to be exported and mailed to the client. Or files may only be accessible with the desktop software. This outdated method of file management slows down your process and frustrates your team and, most importantly, your clients.
With cloud software, you can keep all your essential files in one central space, rather than scattered throughout emails, physical files and local work servers. Managing files is a breeze. You can access them from anywhere on your device, and cut down the need for physical filing space. It also makes the process of finding the file you need much faster, by simply searching your database for key phrases and pulling up the correct document.
Accountants know well that time is money. It’s important to be diligent in tracking your time so that you can bill properly. It’s also important to know the rest of the accounting firm isn’t milking time. But accountants are also human. Everyone has, at one point, experienced an issue in which they forgot to clock in or clock out. Everyone has been well into a new project only to find that they forgot to keep track of their time and have to estimate.
With cloud computing, you can enjoy automated time tracking. Time logs will tell you how long you spent working on a particular account so that you can bill clients more efficiently. It will also automatically generate drafts of timesheets based on your time spent in client engagement files and calendar events. With these drafts, you can easily create an invoice and send it to clients without the pain of meticulously keeping track of your time.
When you have desktop software, the main security threat to worry about is the loss of files. If your computer crashes or is stolen, that’s all of your accounting files gone unless you have backups. You may need to have backups in multiple locations in case of a fire or other disaster on the premises. Without taking this time-consuming precaution, you can lose months or even years of work in one terrible incident.
If you use cloud computing, losing your device means you only lose your device. You can still access the software and your files from any other device. And though there’s often a fear that placing information in the cloud makes it less secure, good cloud computing software is encrypted with multiple layers of protection so that it can’t easily be hacked.
Desktop software can sometimes require an IT professional to come in and install it, train users and maintain it in case of bugs. Any issues with the software have to be reported to customer support over the phone or by email, so you may be waiting awhile for a response. Customer support also won’t be able to get into your actual desktop, which is why typically a full-time in-house IT professional is necessary. IT personnel can be expensive, and the software can quickly become outdated, since any updates are simply added to the new products on sale.
Compare this to maintenance for cloud software, which often has a built-in IT system and updates automatically. You may receive a notification when an update takes place, but you won’t have to do anything yourself. They’re easy to install, and the best cloud software for accountants includes clear navigation and tutorials. You can even conduct a walkthrough of the software with your team over video.
Simplified accounting with Caseware Cloud
The Caseware Cloud platform is a leading example of a simplified client portal that lets you easily communicate with your clients. It features a centralized data hub for file management, integrated time and billing, intuitive collaboration, strong permission protocols to optimize security, and more. With this advanced cloud computing solution, you can streamline your workflow and cut down on both time and money.