Cloud accounting systems

Jun 03, 2019

Gary McErlean of Quarter Chartered Accountants writes:

The ancient saying that change is the only constant seems to be more true today than ever before. The pace of change in the accounting world, driven by continuous technological advances, has never been swifter, or more unforgiving.

As a practice which has embraced and adopted the new technologies available, we at Quarter Chartered Accountants can confidently say that this has only been advantageous.

There are various Cloud Accounting Software providers such as Xero, Surf, Quickbooks, Sage 1 etc. A few years ago, we decided to invest time with Xero, and I thought it would be useful to outline some of the areas where we have benefited from significant time (and ultimately cost) savings by utilising a Cloud Accounting System.

Bank reconciliations still comprise a key component of the accounting process, with staff time requirements being quite significant with bank accounts comprising high numbers of transactions. Not any more – Cloud Accounting Systems have the ability to link directly to most banks, with all underlying transactions being posted within the accounting system automatically, and on a daily basis. Granted that, although such a system automatically records every single lodgement and payment going through the bank, it doesn’t necessarily know where to post the other side of the transaction. However, all the processer needs to do is click on each item and allocate it to the relevant nominal code etc. The time required to do this is a fraction of the time required to post the bank the old fashioned way. Furthermore, the system learns, or can be told, where certain recurring items should be posted and this can also be done automatically, saving even more time.

Cloud Accounting Systems also link in with lots of different mobile phone/tablet apps. For example, there are apps that allow the user to take a photograph, on their mobile phone/tablet, of supplier invoices which are then automatically posted to the Cloud Accounting system, to which the app is linked. All you have to do is approve the transaction.

Based on the above, it is therefore quite conceivable for all your bank transactions and your supplier invoices to be posted to your Cloud Accounting System before you have even opened it!

Another prominent feature of Cloud Accounting Systems is that they can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Gone are the days when all work was carried out in the office on a 9 to 5 basis. It is becoming increasingly common for people to work from home, or on the move, and with the ability to log in to their accounting system being as equally mobile, the business finances can be processed or monitored anywhere on a real time basis.

Cloud Accounting Systems provide a platform for offering a more regular reporting service to clients, which is better for the firm as well as the clients. They allow practices to develop client relations and, in our experience, leads to additional revenue streams being generated.

In summary, if I was to use one word to sum up the effects of these technological advances in Cloud Computing, it would be EFFICIENCY, and, in my opinion, those that want to survive and thrive in this ever changing world of technology need to embrace it.

Gary McErlean is a Principal in Quarter Chartered Accountants, and is a member of the Members in Practice Committee of the Institute. The Members in Practice Committee represents the interests of smaller practices.