Is it time to switch to cloud accounting software?

Is it time to switch to cloud accounting software?

Posted: Thu 8th Feb 2024

If you're struggling to manage your finances efficiently – even the most basic accounting tasks – it's probably time to think about ditching Excel and outdated desktop software.

Sure, at one time, these tools were revolutionary. Compared to pen and paper at least. But today, persevering with clunky spreadsheets and old systems only results in you failing to meet deadlines, making errors, and slowing down your business's growth.

Why? Because they force you to do too much manual work, like plugging in data and reconciling transactions. Work that can otherwise be completely automated with cloud finance software.

Manual processes are a burden

Cloud software isn't a new concept anymore. Yet, many businesses still haven't made the switch, despite the impressive capabilities these tools bring. This is more than understandable for a variety of reasons – for example:

  • You might not feel confident that you'd be able to use cloud software properly – especially if you've done things the same way for a long time.

  • Your current systems are familiar. Everyone in your team knows exactly how to use them, and you're worried that you'd face some backlash if you tried to change things up.

But the truth is, even when used to their full potential, these old tools simply can't compete with a good cloud software package. They're slower, they require more manual (and mundane) work, and they don't give you fast enough access to the insights you need to drive your business forward.

When you consider that your competitors are likely using cloud software to achieve the opposite (fast financial processing, fewer human errors, instant insights etc.), you realise that doing everything the "old" way is holding you back.

This is especially true if your business is growing. When this happens quickly, everything becomes more complex. You find yourself with more transactions to manage, more people to pay, and more work to do.

While your Excel docs may have done the job in the early days, now they're a burden. And they make understanding your financial situation infinitely more difficult.

Ian Rose, principal systems consultant at Sage, believes that while "legacy" tools are still usable, they may not necessarily be the best way to get to your core financial numbers. He says:

"Manual processes mean that you must typically input the correct information first, which is time-consuming and open to error. Another area that is a problem is approval processes. If done manually, there can be massive frustrations."

Let cloud software do the heavy lifting

The fact that cloud software (by definition) doesn't live on your in-house servers is the reason it's so powerful.

Instead, the software itself, and everything you save into it, is stored in the cloud, meaning you can access it anywhere and at any time. All you need is an internet connection and a web browser.

This goes for all your users too, who can enjoy the speed and flexibility of the cloud and get the information they need when they need it.

Five more reasons to consider the cloud

  1. There's no installation or maintenance for you to do.

  2. Any upgrades are simple and don't need any data transfers at your end.

  3. The provider typically updates the software regularly, meaning you always have the latest features and any built-in compliance controls.

  4. You don't need to spend extra money on an IT specialist.

  5. No hardware means cheaper licences and lower maintenance costs.

When you think about it, all of these benefits are essentially stripping away any heavy lifting you're currently having to do. They're removing everything that's burdensome.

Stay efficient as you grow

Using spreadsheets and on-premises software probably seemed much easier and more cost effective in the early days of your business. Then your business grew, along with the amount of information you had to process. You had no choice but to hire more people, and upgrade to larger systems as your needs changed.

This is because the tools you were using couldn't scale along with your business's growth. One stayed still, while the other took off, leaving a huge (and expensive) gap.

This is where cloud financial software proves its long-term value. It's much more scalable because it helps you flexibly add and remove users to the same system.

So, no need to change software and pay an IT specialist to migrate your data. Simply pay for the number of licences you need.

The same rings true for features. As managing your finances gets more complicated, certain features will become more attractive. Again, no need to switch software – just bolt on the capabilities that add the most value to your business at that particular time.

Cloud software mirrors your business's growth, whether that happens quickly, or even if you need to scale back. It gives you maximum flexibility, making sure your people can work efficiently and access the data they need – whatever the macro situation your business is in.

Connected at the core

Speaking of data, cloud finance software uses this to keep everything in your business connected. Your finances, processes and people will all be aligned and working from the same, real-time, accurate information.

This will give you a solid foundation to grow and succeed from. With so much connectivity, location will no longer be an issue, as your people can log in from anywhere in the world, get the insights they need, and make informed decisions on the fly.

It's also effortless to get a complete picture of your current financial performance whenever you need it. That helps you allocate resources and create strategies that drive the direction of your business.

How to choose cloud finance software

If you're ready to give it a go, but have no idea where to start, don't worry. Trying to figure out which cloud finance software would be best for your business is tough.

There are so many options, each with different and sometimes seemingly identical capabilities and varying price points.

Above all, you need to pick one that's straightforward and user-friendly, with the features most relevant to your needs. Many will tick these boxes, so to make an informed decision follow these steps:

Refine your needs

To make a more specific list of requirements, think about:

  • what problems you currently have that you're looking to solve

  • where your current tech holds you back

  • what you'd consider a successful outcome after moving to the cloud

  • who within your business should be involved in assessing software options

Question potential providers

If you think you're ready to get in touch with some providers, here are some details you should question them about.

  • Their experience working with companies that offer your type of product or service, as well as those of a similar size.

  • What demos they can provide that clearly show how they could benefit your business.

  • Their knowledge of regulations in your industry and region that your business must comply with. Also ask if these are addressed within the product itself.

  • If they have a strategic plan or roadmap that shows how their offering will change over the next few years and add more value to your business.

Work closely on implementation

Cloud finance software will transform your business, but you'll need to get implementation right to reap all the benefits.

It could be affecting several areas of your back-office operations, from HR and supply chain to inventory. It's vital that you get involved to make sure each area is set up correctly, including where the new system is interacting with existing ones.

Work with the provider to consider:

  • how they can support you with implementation, including getting set up in a number of geographic locations if needed

  • what should be included in the service level agreement to meet your business needs – only sign contracts after you've done this

  • how the software can integrate with any other existing systems you're not replacing.

Once you're up and running

After your cloud financial software is in place, it's vital that you work diligently on what happens next. It may have been relatively simple to get the software itself live. But to make sure it can be truly successful, think about the following:

  • How to prepare your business for frequent product updates. Who will monitor these and support teams when needed?

  • How you'll make sure people in your business change their behaviours and embrace the new system.

  • Any training that people will need. This is a big one, as people can't use a tool they know nothing about.

  • How to clearly communicate the reason you've brought the new system in and highlight the benefits – to the business and to users.

  • If any of your existing policies and procedures will accommodate the new ways of working.

Think you'll make the switch?

Hopefully, this blog has left you a little inspired to investigate cloud financial software a little deeper. It's hard to overstate the benefits that the connectivity provides, especially with how much is riding on accurate data these days.

If you haven't switched to the cloud yet, and feel your finances could be managed more efficiently, try to find some demos or take a free trial.

You'll quickly see how agile and more productive your teams could become, not to mention how much more confident they'll feel when making important decisions.


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