By: Barry Macquarrie
Blog Series: Post 1 of 4
They seem to be everywhere! I’ve seen them at trade shows and association meetings. They have been seen advertising in accounting profession journals and their promotional emails have probably reached your inbox. They are making a lot of noise!
They are the vendors selling cloud accounting solutions.
Are cloud accounting applications right for you and your clients? In this article, we’ll define cloud accounting and look at the risks and benefits.
What is cloud accounting?
Cloud accounting applications provide much of the same functionality as desktop accounting software with one major difference: cloud accounting apps run on remote servers and are accessed via the web.
Cloud accounting applications are typically offered in one of these two formats:
Hosted applications : The hosted solutions involve your desktop or client/server accounting application, running on a remote server. You gain access to your accounting software using a remote session via the Internet. This solution allows you to use your existing software and data.
Software as a Service (SaaS): In this format, the accounting software and your data are stored on the vendor’s servers, and are accessible via a web browser. If you have ever used a social media site or online banking, you have used a SaaS solution.
What are the benefits?
There are numerous benefits to cloud accounting and progressive business owners are enjoying them. Here are a few of the benefits:
Anytime, anywhere access: Your accounting software and operating results are available to you from a browser or mobile device. This is something that you can’t do with today’s desktop accounting solutions.
Better security: Most cloud accounting software is run from a data center, which offers multiple levels of security to protect the software and your data. The typical data center has significantly better security than most small businesses.
No installations or updates required: Cloud accounting vendors maintain the software and install the updates.
Automatic backups: The cloud vendor assumes responsibility for system backups. Your data is often stored in multiple data centers that are in geographically diverse locations.
No startup costs or long-term commitments: Cloud accounting applications are rented not purchased. They do not require a small business to invest in servers or software.
Platform agnostic: Do you prefer a Windows PC or Mac? What’s your choice—Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox? In the world of cloud accounting, it simply doesn’t matter. Cloud accounting applications are delivered via a web browser and typically support all popular platforms.
Barry MacQuarrie, CPA is a Consultant and the Director of Technology at KAF Financial Group. Barry combines his knowledge of accounting and technology to provide consulting services focused on cloud accounting solutions. His areas of expertise include accounting software, process improvement and technology management.