by Todd Eyolfson
More and more accounting practices are turning to the cloud for improved efficiency, cost savings and collaboration capabilities. In fact, recent research from Caseware found nearly two-thirds of accountants intend to use some type of cloud technology over the next two years.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting firms, like most organizations, were forced to work remotely. This meant team members had to find new ways to work together on projects and to collaborate remotely with clients. Cloud solutions helped many accountants overcome this challenge, and as firms emerge from the pandemic, the cloud continues to allow teams to work collaboratively from wherever they happen to be — at the office, at home or at a client’s site.
Practices that have adopted the cloud model save time, work more seamlessly as a team and are able to access files and key data more easily.
Let’s look at a few key factors that are driving widespread cloud migration.
Better client collaboration
For years, accountants and their clients have collaborated by email. If you needed a file, you sent an email message to your client and they would respond by emailing back the appropriate document. This system worked better than shuffling heavy boxes stuffed with paper files back and forth, but the cloud offers new levels of collaboration and security.
Through the cloud, you can create client portals, which allow you and your clients to collaborate on files and communicate in real time, securely. If you and a client are both working on a file in the cloud, you can see changes as they occur without needing to worry if you’re working on the most recent version. You can also message clients through a cloud portal and see their responses in a single thread, ensuring you don’t miss any responses.
A more secure environment
Cloud environments are typically secured through passwords, user access controls and multi-factor authentication. User access controls are crucial because they restrict access to important data. Only users who are approved to access particular files by the person controlling cloud security (often a system administrator) can see them.
This helps you keep sensitive information secure. User access controls are also helpful during audits because they allow you to restrict access to only those accountants working on the audit, preventing potential conflicts of interest.
The cloud gives you one central repository for all your files and documents. This means you don’t have to search multiple drives to find the information you’re looking for. All the information you need is in one location.
You can save years, or even decades, of data and engagement files in the cloud. And because all your data is in one location, you can easily apply analytics solutions to your data, helping you better identify trends, establish benchmarks and identify potential risks.
Equip yourself for tomorrow’s challenges
The cloud is playing a crucial role in accounting practices, helping them work better with clients, support hybrid work models and deliver deeper insights. If you’re interested in shifting to the cloud, but are worried about disrupting your existing processes, you can take a more gradual approach by moving to a hybrid cloud model that combines your familiar desktop applications with cloud capabilities. Whichever cloud approach you take, you’ll be making your practice more efficient and competitive.
For a more detailed examination of how the cloud can help you get an edge on your competitors, read the new Caseware white paper, The Benefits of Moving Your Accounting Practice to the Cloud.
Todd Eyolfson, CPA, CGA, CITP is the Director of Education, Technical Sales and Implementations with Caseware International. He has been with Caseware for more than 26 years and has worked with many of the Top 100 firms, and countless small-to-medium organizations. He is committed to making auditors and accountant's lives easier with the help of advanced technologies. Learn more at Caseware.com.