It’s difficult to comprehend just how much cloud accounting has revolutionised the finance sector and empowered businesses to take control of their profits and losses.

Accounting is no longer all data entry, spreadsheets, and chasing debtors. With smooth integrations, user permissions and process automation, cloud accounting allows you to manage your finances securely and with ease.

Here are six essential things enabled by cloud accounting that previously, or with outdated software and processes, would prove extremely challenging.

Automate invoices, reporting, and communication

Accountants and finance staff are skilled employees, but half of their time can be spent manually gathering data from disparate systems, putting together invoices, and sending friendly (and sadly, sometimes unfriendly) reminders to debtors.

Cloud accounting allows you to set up simple process flows and automations to ensure all the essential data is being gathered, documented, and reported on. That could be anything from an invoice being generated and sent, to a bill being paid. And once you’ve set it up, that process is in place permanently going forward. It can save hours out of a week, which is a huge resource boost.

What’s more, you can even integrate your software with different systems, such as payroll and HR, to ensure all your payslips and tax documents are generated automatically and with data from the source. The margin for error is lower, and it takes a fraction of the time.

Access essential data any time, any place

It’s now more important than ever to have remote access to essential systems and data. We’ve seen that storing files in on-premise software, or in your local computer drive, can really slow you down when you need to access that information on the go, or when working from home.

If the name didn’t make it clear, cloud accountancy works in the cloud, meaning all you need is a username and login (and perhaps a whitelisted IP address for security) to access all the tools and data you’d have in the office.

Have full visibility on security and data change

A common misconception is that cloud services carry greater security risks. This makes some sense, as in theory all you need to access extra-sensitive financial information in the cloud is a username and password. 

The reality is that cloud services give you better visibility on security and any changes to data, as everything is happening up there in the cloud.

With on-site systems, there’s usually a crossover between the system and locally stored files, meaning data can be manipulated, copied, or exported without the system even knowing. Cloud services see every login with a timestamp and location, what the user is doing, and any changes they make. You can even restrict access to specific times and locations, and exclude a user if they take certain actions.

Dictate user permissions

Just because you want someone to be able to access your finances doesn’t mean you want them to see everything. Cloud accounting sets you up with user permissions, so you can determine just how much autonomy you want a user to have. 

They could be a fully-fledged user, able to import, export, and make whatever changes they wish. They could be a technical user, looking to set up integrations and workflows but with no business seeing the financials. Or they could be a report-only user, who sees the information that’s been added to their dashboard but nothing else. These user permissions add an extra layer to your security and make sure people can only work with what’s relevant to their role.

Collaborate with third parties

If you’re working with a third-party such as an accountancy firm, you want them to have all the information they need but nothing more. The information needs to be read-only, and presented in a way that allows them to do their job efficiently and without margin for error.

Cloud accounting allows you to give access to nominated third parties, who can either log in to your system via a web portal, or be granted authorisation for your data to automatically integrate with their system. The benefit is that this process is happening automatically and gradually; there isn’t a scramble to get your accounts together on time, as they’re being built consistently, cleanly, and compliantly throughout the year.

Pay as a subscription

One of the challenges when approaching any software implementation is the cost, particularly with on-premise systems, which often require a large initial outlay to get the product up and running.

The benefit of cloud accounting is that these are often SaaS (software as a service) products, subscription services that allow you to ramp your functionality and costs up and down based on your needs. You could be a one-person business with a need for only one license, or a large outfit with a team of finance staff; you only pay for what you use, and that’s billed monthly. This lack of initial outlay makes it much easier to get a budget, as well as buy-in from your senior management team.

Cloud accounting streamlines and centralises all your accounting processes into one easy-to-use web service, making it easy to control access, reporting, and security of all your sensitive financial data. To learn more about cloud accounting and how it could transform your business, contact NM Group.

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