Thursday, August 05, 2010

3 Ways to Take Small Business Accounting to the Clouds

Small business owners (SBO’s) who use any kind of technology in their business will have undoubtedly heard someone mention “cloud computing” or “SaaS” and how this new technology will be the future of their business operations. Due to tighter budgets and a bit of misunderstanding of what the cloud has to offer, many small business owners continue with the “if it ain’t broke…” way of doing things. When speaking to small business owners about how they can streamline operations and save money, the topic of cloud computing seems to come up a great deal. I usually hear reasons for resisting the cloud to include security issues, control of data, and learning curve.

If a small business owner is not ready to fully jump out the airplane and into the clouds, they have three basic ways they can move to the clouds. These solutions also address some of the many issues that small business owners have about the cloud way of doing things.

Remote Access

Test your current accounting system using remote access. Remote access allows a SBO to still control their data by having it located on one of their computers and gives bookkeeping personnel the ability to login to the system from anywhere there is an internet connection. The bookkeeper can access accounting information at their leisure and can cut down on in office expenses. Remote access works best when there is a dedicated computer for accounting and only one person is accessing the data. Some remote access vendors include LogMeIn and Citrix.

Software Hosting

Hosting your accounting data is an even closer step towards the cloud. When an SBO “hosts” their accounting software bookkeeping personnel will login to the hosting company’s servers and complete their tasks over the internet. The data will reside on the hosting company’s computers and updates will be done by the company. Hosting also allows simultaneous users allowing more than one person access to accounting functions. SBO’s must use due care when setting up permissions to various functions of the accounting software to ensure that proper controls are in place. Some hosting vendors include CPAASP and Right Networks.

SaaS Solution

When an SBO uses a SaaS accounting product, all of their mission critical data is in the clouds. Bookkeeping personnel will login to the accounting system just like accessing an online banking module. Changes are updated in real-time and updates are usually done during non-peak hours. Simultaneous users can also access the system at once and the control functions are integrated into the module. Since the data is completely online, there is no data file to share or provide to outside parties. Some SaaS vendors include Netsuite and AccountantsWorld.

As a SBO, taking your accounting processes to the cloud can be done in many ways. Depending on the SBO’s resistance, one solution is sure to fit your business operations. Embracing the cloud can be tough for many SBO’s thus it is important to speak with cloud vendors, map out a plan, and test the systems before going full speed with a cloud accounting solution.

The Tech Accountant

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