Recent surveys and reports from IT consultancies, software providers and financial websites have appeared in recent months, drawing the same conclusion – accountancy firms need to adopt cloud computing!*
Although there are major variations in the readiness of both accountants and their clients to embrace the cloud, there is a clear central issue. Businesses are experiencing the multiple benefits of cloud technology and are keen to get their accountants on board as well.
Sage Accountants’ Division released the results of a survey in mid-May 2014, showing that – of the 1,300-plus accountants in practice that it contacted, more than half would respond to client requests to move onto online accountancy and collaboration software.
“What this study has proven is that there is a large proportion of accountants who do not feel ready to make that switch (to cloud computing) just yet – but with clients continuing to drive adoption, the value of understanding the tools available should not be underestimated,” said Paul Tooth, Managing Director of Sage UK and Ireland Accountants’ Division.
There is certainly increasing awareness of how much difference cloud computing can make. The Sage survey found the top benefits from online software and a collaborative approach between client and accountant were:
- Access to online accountancy tools and data at any time (68 per cent of respondents)
- Having remote access to files (65 per cent)
- Flexibility in working practices, such as being able to work from home (56 per cent)
- The ability to use multi-device access (52 per cent)
Other similar surveys have come up with further convincing arguments for cloud adoption for businesses and accountants alike, including:
- Increased productivity and efficiency
- Lower IT and travel costs, through less journeys to clients’ offices for example
- A source of competitive advantage (and a potential source of competitive disadvantage if companies fail to adopt the technology)
- A means of establishing a single version of information, eliminating errors and enabling real-time updating and instant approvals
- Enabling employees to work remotely
With many UK businesses seeking to expand their operations and win new clients, accountants need to present opportunities and solutions to their clients. The cloud presents a huge platform of opportunity for accountants to feed into the growing demands of businesses, particularly small and medium sized businesses, to offer more than just someone who sorts out their books, and to better meet those growing needs for more value added services. The cloud offers the perfect channel to help build and develop this level of trust.
Andrew Flanagan, managing director, professional market for the tax and accounting business of Thomson Reuters, believes that within a few years, all software and data will be cloud-based, meaning that those who persist in ignoring the trend will find themselves increasingly isolated from technological development and access to new tools.
Access to new software tools and upgrades is among the prime advantages of the cloud, Thomson Reuters’ survey found, alongside enhanced flexibility and cost savings.
Sage can provide expert advice and guidance on how to take advantage of cloud computing, whatever your size or accountancy software needs.
* Research from Sage Accountants’ Division May 2014. AccountingWEB and IT in Practice Survey ran by Thompson Reuters.