Are you on the cloud? Partner with us to get there!
This is why we are introducing an offer of a 1 hour free “cloud” consultation with one of our experienced cloud experts who will take you through the ins and outs of cloud solutions and how they can benefit your business.
Cloud computing – what is it and how can it help you run your business?
Cloud computing is fast becoming mainstream and most people have heard of it or experienced it in some form, perhaps without realising it. With big IT brands like Amazon, Google and Apple enthusiastically embracing it, being “in the cloud” is in vogue. However, the cloud is not just for the hip and happening crowd who are always on the lookout for the new and efficient way to share photos of their dinner with the world.
Upgrading your accounting system to the cloud can provide numerous advantages, including saving time, reducing cost and eliminating the inevitable software-induced frustrations. Imagine not having to ever worry again about software upgrades or losing years worth of data in a computer meltdown! If that sounds good, read on – and consider taking advantage of a free 1 hour “cloud” consultation with one of our Ruddicks advisers!
What is cloud computing?
Traditionally, businesses effectively purchased a software package as a product, installed it on specific computers and then maintained the software by making back ups and installing occasional updates, whether free or for an additional fee. A business might have had one dedicated computer with the accounting software such as MYOB on it and if that particular computer crashed, was stolen or was infected with a virus, restoring the accounting records could have been… problematic, as well as expensive and frustrating.
With cloud based software, you are instead purchasing a right to use accounting software over the internet by paying a subscription fee. This effectively allows you to outsource the software maintenance issues and eliminates the limitations of having software confined to certain machines. Three of the most currently popular cloud based accounting packages are MYOB Live Accounts, MYOB AccountRight Live and Xero, though there are many others.
Full cloud or half-cloud?
As no cloud fits all, there are two different levels of cloud products available to accommodate your circumstances and preferences and we can help you identify the best product for you.
Even if you live in an area with unreliable internet which would prevent you from having unfettered access to cloud files or if you wish to retain the ability to back up files to your computer, you can still significantly benefit from a cloud product. For example, MYOB Account Right Live gives you the best of both worlds – a desktop application that allows you to work offline as well as the ability to sync the file in the cloud, which can then be accessed from anywhere by you and your Ruddicks adviser (even at the same time!).
Alternatively, if internet access is not an issue and physical file storage on your own hardware is not a requirement, you can take advantage of a full-cloud product like Xero or MYOB LiveAccounts which need no desktop application and are accessible through a web browser.
To cloud or not to cloud?
There are numerous advantages of transferring your software into the cloud and the feedback from our cloud-based clients has been positive. So here are some of the most widely quoted benefits of cloud based packages.
Unlike the traditional model which requires a large up-front investment with substantial subsequent costs for any upgrades, the cloud packages rely on a “pay as you go” model, which means no large fees and the payment is aligned with the business value it delivers.
And the best part? No extra cost for updates and upgrades, ever! It is all included in the subscription price.
In fact, if you take up a full-cloud product like Xero or MYOB LiveAccounts, there will be no updates to be installed by you at all! The software is always kept up to date on the cloud and is always in the right version, so there are no compatibility conflicts. This also means that all security patches are installed immediately and security is dealt with at a high level by the software provider.
For a half-cloud product like MYOB AccountRight Live, only the desktop application needs to be updated, which is quite quick and is automatically triggered upon access so there is little interruption to your work.
The cloud allows you to access your real-time information at any time, at any place – as long as that place has internet access! Although as explained above, the MYOB AccountRight Live product offers a hybrid solution which may suit people who may have occasional difficulties accessing the internet.
This unrestricted cloud access means that…
- You can check or update your records from any computer;
- You can give real-time access to your Ruddicks adviser, saving you the hassle of having to send a copy of the file each time;
- Your Ruddicks adviser or bookkeeper can make corrections to your live file which means it is instantly updated and is always current;
- You can obtain more timely and accurate advice from your Ruddicks adviser who can immediately access your information;
- Different users can be working on the file at the same time, e.g. you can be processing current information while your bookkeeper is reconciling last month’s figures;
- You can get any processing queries resolved quickly as your Ruddicks adviser can go into the file and help you with processing with both of you using the file at the same time;
- There is no need for back ups! And no confusion as which version of the file you are using – you are always accessing the most current version of the live file;
- You can even invoice your customers and take payment from them using your smartphone – on the spot!
- You can work from home as well as from your office and particularly ardent workaholics can finally work on holidays…
The ability to set up bank feeds from most financial institutions which automatically import transactions into your software will not only save you the processing time, but will also enable you to work more efficiently, without having to wait for or print bank statements.
There is also the functionality to memorise recurring or similar transactions based on certain features which will save time. And automatic bank feed means less scope for transaction input errors – you can be sure that all transactions are there and for correct amounts!
Flexibility & choice of package
Finally, the flexibility of cloud based packages allows you to easily upgrade your software package based on the number of users, the volume of transactions, the number of invoices, the number of employees, and other factors. This means that your accounting software can grow with your business and you only need to upgrade once you have outgrown your current package. The conversion from one cloud package to the next level will be seamless and easy without the need for back ups, set up and import of data – you would simply be unlocking additional functionality by upgrading your subscription.
As you can see, there are significant benefits to embracing cloud-based accounting packages: cost, flexibility, reduced processing time… You may even start enjoying your record-keeping!
What are the drawbacks of cloud computing?
First and foremost – it’s the reliance on your internet connection. If it is temperamental, it can prevent you from accessing and updating your records.
However, perhaps the most crucial disadvantage of cloud computing is the loss of control – you are effectively handing over the management of your software to someone else, trusting them to protect your data and your privacy and to keep the software running smoothly. While such cloud providers like Xero and MYOB have robust privacy and data security policies, it remains a risk that for some may outweigh the benefits of adopting a cloud based accounting software product.
Similarly, there is also a risk that the cloud host may go bankrupt and close down, become the target of a security breach, or have a major technical problem making the recovery of your data in such circumstances uncertain.
These risks need to be carefully considered in the context of your own circumstances and preferences to ensure that your accounting software product meets your personal requirements.
Notwithstanding these risks, take up of cloud accounting by small and medium business is currently increasing at exponential rates.
How can Ruddicks help?
We can help you choose the right product for your business and explain the pros and cons of each one in the context of your business and your industry and set up trial versions of the software for you to test drive.
We can also help you at the implementation stage and assist with setting up of the accounts and automatic bank feeds, generation of reports and processing of transactions.
Finally, we can provide real time assistance and advice by accessing your cloud file at the same time as you to guide you through any processing questions.
But wait! There is more!
If you are interested in finding out more about cloud based accounting software packages, whether you are a new user or looking to switch from a non-cloud product, we encourage you to take this opportunity to discuss the options available and come in for a 1 hour free consultation with our Ruddicks cloud experts!
Please call our office to make your appointment or contact your Ruddicks adviser to find out how you can take advantage of all the benefits that cloud computing can offer.
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this publication are general in nature and we accept no responsibility for persons acting on information contained herein. The content of this newsletter does not constitute specific advice and readers are encouraged to consult their Ruddicks adviser on any matters of interest. © Ruddicks 2014