Digital transformation often means upgrading your tech. And embracing cloud-based software for all your business needs, including accounting and finance, may seem like the most obvious way to give your business a tech facelift. But moving to the cloud is more than just a systems shift; it’s about reinventing the ways you work and engage with your customers.
According to a report by Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, the adoption of cloud-based solutions is steadily rising. 72% of US respondents say they will use cloud-based solutions in 2017; last year, that number was 62%. Companies clearly recognize the value of cloud-based solutions, but many are still hesitant to make the most of this new technology. If you’re currently on the fence about moving your accounting to the cloud, here are five ways it’ll grow—and future-proof—your business.
From freelancers to enterprises, there’s a cloud-based finance app to suit businesses of every size. One of the main benefits of cloud-based accounting is that all your workflows—payroll processing, invoicing, and more—can be fully automated. Apps like Intacct, Xero, and Netsuite offer essential accounting features that improve productivity by reducing labour costs and streamlining daily operations. If you’re frustrated with spending too much time on tedious administrative tasks, these cloud-based financial apps can easily eliminate manual bottlenecks.
For example, instead of manually keying billing invoices into multiple systems, you can automate the task with the right cloud accounting program. Nick Fedele of Fintelligent explains that this process revolutionized his company: “Intacct is our system of record and we’re pulling information from different operational systems that cover different portions of the business and bringing them into Intacct as our source of truth. We can automatically manipulate our data and put it seamlessly into Intacct.”
Cloud apps also reduce IT costs. Instead of paying for support server hardware, backups, and maintenance, you only pay for the features you need—typically in the form of a monthly subscription fee.
Now that your administrative tasks are automated and well-taken care of, you can spend more time on higher priority tasks, such as interacting with customers to generate overall revenue growth. And the results speak for themselves; according to a study by the Cloud Security Alliance, companies that adopted cloud services experienced a 20.66% average improvement in time-to-market. They also saw an 18.80% average increase in process efficiency and a 15.07% reduction in IT spending. Together, these benefits led to a 19.63% increase in company growth.
Better Data Insights
To drive business growth, you must first provide your customers with value-driven service through better data. Cloud accounting allows for a 360° view of customer interactions in real time. What does this bird’s eye view mean? You can more easily derive insights from customer data and make better-informed decisions. If you’re an enterprise, for example, you can get the most out of your recurring revenue streams via NetSuite, which aims to make granular data easily available and understandable. With access to such granular information, you can then drive intelligent changes across the company.
At Fintelligent, this increased visibility is key to pleasing their clients. “Previously, we had to manually import data, and too often it was days or weeks old. This led to issues at the executive level for our clients due to a lack of visibility – a lot of times issues weren’t raised until it was too late. We got a lot of feedback from CEOs and founders saying, ‘If I had known we weren’t on target with our sales I could have done X, Y, or Z,’” explained Nick. “Now we have visibility in a timely fashion and this empowers our clients’ executive leadership to make better informed decisions more quickly.”
More Secure Accounting Data
Besides their litany of features, cloud accounting apps also offer peace of mind when it comes to data security. Cloud services use the latest encryption methods and security measures to ensure that your data is protected, including automatic data backups and multi-layered anti-virus programs. Compared to alternatives like emailing or saving files to a physical hard drive, it’s much safer. Cloud apps also allow you to control who has access to data; for example, you can make confidential information available to team members through invitation only.
Better Mobility and Easier Collaboration
If you work remotely or are constantly on the move, you’ll appreciate the flexibility and mobility of cloud accounting solutions. Because you’re not tied down by the rigidity of on-premise systems, you can manage your finances and access your real-time dashboard via the web from anywhere. Apps like Intacct, Xero, and QuickBooks are also conducive to collaboration between colleagues and clients. For example, if you want to gain visibility on payments, you can seamlessly connect them to your CRM or ERP systems to know when your invoice is paid—without having to directly access your accounting software to retrieve data.
For Fintelligent, mobile visibility couldn’t happen without cloud-based accouting. “We no longer need to wait for somebody to be in front of a PC to import,” says Nick. “The executives at our client companies no longer need to wait for an Excel report. Many of them are on the road a lot, and now they have real-time mobile dashboards they can view. The fact that they can be at the airport or in the car and can see sales that are up-to-date in real-time is incredible.”
Greater Integration Opportunities
Cloud based solutions are dynamic, extendable, and offer greater point-to-point integration opportunities with other popular programs like Salesforce, Shopify, and Concur. But it doesn’t just stop there. With cloud apps, it’s much easier to orchestrate complex workflows. You can connect a variety of apps to your System-of-Record program through integration. For example, you can integrate with apps like Docusign for contract automation.
Or you can integrate with your CRM to streamline your data for more holistic workflows, like Tides Canada did, to minimize the human intervention needed and save money. “Every nonprofit struggles with capacity in terms of HR, so you’re always looking to streamline,” Anne Marie Johnston, the charity’s COO, explains. “We want to deliver reports in a timely way with minimal overhead.” Moving to cloud-based NetSuite allowed them to trim their staff by 1-2 full-time equivalents. But even if you’re not looking to cut staff, the integration combinations are endless!
Ok, you’re ready to go cloud, but which app is right for you? Read our Ultimate Guide to Choosing A Finance App.