“New businesses are driving the trend, with most setting up in the cloud. It’s the more established businesses that tend to be slow adopters,” he says.
Staples Rodway has embraced the changing accounting landscape by launching a cloud-based service offering called RealTime.
“RealTime blends the latest cloud technology with Staples Rodway’s tried-and-true service to provide unique solutions for progressive clients,” explains Kingsford. “We also contribute to the development of many cloud solutions – rural accounting platform Figured, for example.”
Cloud-accounting solutions deliver a big efficiency booster for accountants by providing ready access to online data. “Traditional means of gathering information seem antiquated and just plain slow,” says Kingsford. “Benefits for clients include access anywhere, anytime, and the automation of many tasks.”
However, he says the accuracy and integrity of data must continue to be managed. “A cloud-based system doesn’t overrule the ‘rubbish in, rubbish out’ rule. We work regularly with clients to make their process fit for purpose and to ensure that the monthly financials are accurate, reliable and allow business owners to make good decisions.”
Cloud accounting also means reporting is becoming more powerful. Cloud tools enable automatic feeds of data up into graphical dashboards, assessing business performance against KPIs. “Big data, benchmarking and other analysis are going to be big in the next few years as businesses make more use of, and commercialise, the aggregated data now residing in the cloud,” explains Kingsford.
When clients switch to the cloud, the biggest advantage to accountants arises from the ability to work directly with the financial data, adds Kingsford. “It means we can give proactive, real-time advice at a fraction of the traditional cost.”
Another advantage is utilising the ‘single ledger’ concept, he says, whereby client data is used directly to generate the statutory financial statements, instead of having to use accountant proprietary systems.
Then there’s the ability to integrate or ‘bolt’ other systems or apps onto a core cloud-accounting platform to deliver operational objectives. “It gives small and medium companies the same functional efficiencies that have traditionally been the domain of the larger corporates,” says Kingsford.
“This technology competitiveness, combined with conventional agility, results in small businesses starting to disrupt business dynamics.”
As for making the transition from desktop to cloud, Kingsford says planning is paramount.
“Depending on size and existing infrastructure, businesses may want to stagger their shift to tie into the end-of-life of fixed hardware. Staples Rodway specialises in transitioning accounting systems to the cloud and has learnt the best, most effective way to do this.”