Don’t let doubts cloud your judgement

Cloud accounting makes sense at a number of levels, argues Emma Woods. So why are some businesses still so reluctant to embrace it?

Although the benefits of storing accounting data in the cloud are now quite well established, I still see a nervousness among some clients to make the leap. It’s strange in many ways that we embrace the online world in so many aspects of our lives, but are wary of embracing it in the work environment.

I would summarise the concerns as falling into three distinct categories.

The first objection is often around security. People imagine their data is suddenly going to be ‘out there’ for everyone to see and that their business has become more vulnerable. Stopping to think about this for a second though, many small businesses don’t have particularly elaborate security systems in place on their premises. It’s therefore quite possible the data is at greater risk in the real world than it is in the cloud.

Before you reject the cloud, ask yourself what disaster recovery measures you have in place in the event of your data getting stolen or corrupted. Storing another copy of your accounting information gives you greater resilience if any back-up fails. What’s more, many cloud-based systems advertise ‘bank-level’ security and most of us are quite happy to check our current account or savings online.

The second line of resistance to the new technology is the concern that your accounting will now rely on 24-hour access to the internet. Can we be sure that our broadband connection is always 100% efficient?

Clearly the reliability of web connectivity may vary by region and supplier, but we now live in a world of instant access to the web via 3G and 4G mobile technology. This means that if, for some reason, your broadband is down, you can still access the data on a smartphone or tablet rather than a desktop. Or, of course, head to another location where it’s possible to access the web.

The third objection – and perhaps the most difficult to overcome – is simply fear of the unknown. Some people might take the view that if their accounting regime ‘ain’t broke’, as the saying goes, there’s no need to fix it. In my experience, though, many businesses have too little sense of cash flow, who exactly owes them money and when the next invoices are due. When data is collected and processed in the cloud, they can often realise how inadequate their previous systems have actually been.

If you’re able to get past your concerns, there are so many potential advantages. The user-friendly nature of the cloud packages means that you often end up saving valuable time. Free support is available and software updates are processed by the software company without any disruption.

And, of course, your accountant is able to work with you collaboratively – sharing the same screen.

With monthly subscriptions and the ability to avoid long-term financial commitment, a move to the cloud is unlikely to prove costly and, in most cases, is less expensive than desktop accounting packages.

Your accountant can help you make the transition fairly seamlessly, as importing data from your current systems is usually straightforward too. So there really isn’t much need for caution. It’s honestly a change that you will be delighted you’ve made.