Guest post by Vic Knight of Vic Knight Projects, a Freelance Copywriting and Marketing Support Service based in Newark, Nottinghamshire.
By using new online accounting software, you can minimise your accountancy charges.
That’s one of the key points I took from a webinar hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) recently.
I discovered that, for many accountants, a lot of time is spent on routine data entry, so handing in that box of receipts at the end of the year results in an unnecessary cost. I’m effectively paying a highly qualified professional to perform straightforward tasks that I could easily undertake myself.
A software solution like Sage One Cashbook or Sage One Accounts makes it really quick and easy for me to enter basic transactional information during my normal day-to-day working. Apart from helping to keep my costs down, it also means my accountant can concentrate on the more complex and technical side of accounting, which is where I really need my accountant’s help.
The webinar also provided a really useful look at the risks and benefits of using an online accounting Software as a Service (SaaS) package.
Benefits of online accounting software
SaaS is effectively using someone else’s hardware to host and back up your software. So an immediate benefit is that it can free-up the space in my office currently housing servers and reduce my energy costs too. Other benefits include:
- Scalability: online pricing models tend to be more flexible, allowing firms to increase or decrease user license fees to suit changes in business fortunes.
- Standardisation: avoiding compatibility issues when using different versions of software.
- Increased productivity: many new online accounting products offer improved user interfaces and higher levels of functionality and workflow than older software products.
- Greater flexibility and efficiency: cloud solutions allow me to work away from the office yet still perform key transactional tasks on the move. That’s really useful.
The risks of online accounting?
It seems the most common fears for businesses when moving to online accounting are:
This is less of an issue than I thought. Online vendors like Sage can provide more sophisticated and reliable levels of security protection than I could organise myself. It’s a lot less hassle for me too. The webinar made the valid point that data security is as much about minimising the risk of an in-house breach as it is about knowing where my data is physically located and who can access it.
It seems this is no different to on-premises software solutions. It’s best to take a long hard look at vendor history, financial strength, management experience and overall reputation in order to make an informed decision. Vendors with proven reputations and significant investments in technical support and development probably represent the lowest risk option.
We all know that every online product will be a compromise. Most solutions deliver around 80% of the functionality I need at a price I’m prepared to pay. The cost of customising a solution for that extra 20% of required functionality is rarely worth the effort. It’s cheaper and more efficient for me to change my internal processes instead.
This is about being able to access the software and my data 99.9% of the time. It’s the same for any software solution which depends on a web connection. If the lights go out and my screens go blank, I’ll revert to a remote or mobile broadband connection or consider an auxiliary power source if I want to keep working.
I found the hour long webinar really useful and learned a lot. It has certainly got me thinking about the wider aspects of cloud computing and how to manage my business online.