8 Signs You Might Need the Cloud

8 Signs You Might Need the Cloud

If you haven’t already, it is time to consider switching over to the cloud. Gartner recently released a report on cloud computing where they predicted that by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-internet” policy is today. In order to stay competitive you need to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Not convinced you need to make the switch? Take a look at the following signs that indicate you might need the cloud.

1. You want to upgrade your software

Businesses with on-premise software need to maintain it with upgrades, troubleshooting and updates. This becomes rather expensive and time-consuming since you need to train employees, test systems and also implement the upgrades. Switching over to the cloud can reduce your costs, save you time and improve your efficiency. Cloud software is upgraded by the provider and without additional costs for you.

2. You want fast deployment

On-premise ERP systems are notorious for long implementation times. For larger systems and corporations it can take months to fully deploy the system. A cloud ERP system is quite the opposite. Since the ERP system is delivered via the Internet, deployment is almost instant.

3. You want to integrate your systems

Do you work with multiple software systems and wish they could all be integrated? Your wish can come true! Cloud software systems are inherently open and allows users to connect to other systems to allow for collaboration. For example, Sage Intacct, an ERP cloud-based software, allows integration with other providers such as Adaptive Insights, Bill.com and Avalara.

4. You want to increase employee collaboration

If you have multiple employees working with the same data, you might be in trouble. Having multiple versions of data can not only be time-consuming to fix, but you can also end up with a major financial loss. Off-premise software systems allows employees to access the data they are working with simultaneously and in real-time. Thus, you eliminate the possibility of having multiple versions spreadsheets.

5. You want to scale

This might be one of the first things you hear about the cloud. On-premise software can get really expensive if you’re growing at a fast pace, making it difficult to scale your business. On the other hand, with the cloud, you can request more functions, space or users and get them instantly.

6. You don’t want to spend your budget on IT, but rather your core products

It doesn’t make sense to manage your own on-premise servers and develop your own portals if IT is not your core competency. Nonprofit organization, for example, will benefit from investing their budget on their mission and cause rather than an IT department. Cloud software allows businesses without IT knowledge to operate without owning their own IT equipment. Rather, all you need is access to Internet and a device.

7. You have a mobile workforce or multiple offices

As Internet access increases worldwide and remote work continues to be a trend in the workplace, having remote access is becoming more important. Cloud software makes this a reality as you can access your data anytime, anywhere and from any device with Internet connection.


 

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Cloud Accounting Software: Ultimate Guide

Cloud Accounting Software: Ultimate Guide

What is Cloud Accounting?

Intuit’s eBook “The Appification of Small Business” projects that 78% of small businesses will depend on cloud technology in 2020. Furthermore, Technavio’s report on the global business accounting software market 2017-2021 estimates that the market size will grow to $4.1 billion by 2021 at a CAGR of more than 6% over the period. Hence, the cloud is growing at a rapid speed, and the accounting industry is not an exception.

So what is cloud accounting? Cloud accounting simply refers to accounting software that sends, processes and stores data off-premises (in the cloud), rather than the traditional accounting software approach with on-premise hosting. Thus, the cloud is essentially a metaphor for the Internet. There are many benefits with this approach, but one of the main ones is that it allows an employee to access data from anywhere, anytime and any device, granted that you have access to the Internet.

Cloud accounting software can be used in-house by employees, purchased from a third-party or outsourced in a hybrid model. Additionally, the most common model that cloud providers offer is “pay-as-you-go”, subscription based, where businesses only pay for the services they use and can upgrade to meet their needs as they grow.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

What are the Main Functions of Cloud Accounting Software?

Cloud accounting software can perform many different functions, depending on the needs of your business and what type of software provider you choose. Most commonly though, accounting software can perform the following functions:

  • Accounts receivable
  • Accounts payable
  • General ledger
  • Billing
  • Stock/inventory
  • Purchase order
  • Sales order
  • Bookkeeping

Moreover, cloud accounting software providers can also offer a mix of the following functions:

  • Expense reporting
  • Time-sheet tracking
  • Sales tax
  • Payroll
  • Reconciliation
  • Reports

Types of Cloud Accounting Software

Cloud accounting software is a solution that works for many different types of businesses; startups, early-stage companies, small and mid-size businesses (SMBs), and high end market corporations. One of the main advantages of cloud software is that businesses can choose what services they need and easily scale if they have growing needs. On the low end, businesses may simply need the software for basic accounting tasks, while on the high-end, corporations invest in accounting software that is ultimately an integrated part of an extensive suite of software called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

What are the Benefits of Cloud Accounting Software?

1. Remote Access

As Internet access continues to grow worldwide, remote access is becoming an especially important benefit of cloud accounting software. Visual Networking Forecast (VNI) has been tracking Internet growth for over a decade, and estimates that by 2020 over 4 billion people will be using the Internet. While forecasting is difficult, VNI has historically predicted within 10% of actual growth rates. The cloud allows employees to access data, via the Internet, from basically anywhere. This is a huge advantage for businesses who have employees that work in multiple locations or are often travelling.

2. Automated Processes

Automation is a huge benefit and opportunity for accountants because it allows them to focus on more important business tasks than manual and time-consuming processes such as data entering. Technology has disrupted manual processes and made the profession more efficient and strategic. As a result of automation, data is collected faster, which ultimately allows employees to have more insights and make quicker decisions. Accountants that are willing to embrace technology will, consequently, be able to take on more strategic roles in the future and benefit from automation.

3. Cost Saving

The cloud is disrupting the software industry. Since you only pay for the services you use, most providers offer clients a subscription model with monthly payment installments. As a result, customers are able to get the latest software for a minimal cost and the ability to scale if they have a growing demand of services. With cloud software, customers don’t have to worry about maintenance and update costs because those are managed by the provider. The cloud has essentially empowered customers by giving them a more affordable way to access the latest software.


In conclusion, cloud accounting software is an incredibly powerful tool that can give any business, regardless of size, a huge advantage in decision-making, efficiency and cost reduction. If you are interested in learning more about technology in the accounting industry, check out the related blog posts below.

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3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

3 SMB Budgeting Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) often have budget and staffing constraints – making it even more important to have accurate forecasts and budgets. Yet, SMBs tend to make small mistakes that often result in a financial loss – or worse – closing up for good. To create an accurate and solid budget that you can rely on; avoid the following three common budgeting mistakes.

1. Overestimate sales projections

Sales projections should be based on data and research; however, many SMBs pick a figure out of thin air. Instead, look at past sales, the conditions of the macro-economy and competitors to create a forecast that is realistic and relevant to your business.

2. Spreadsheet errors

As discussed in our blog post Can Excel Be Bad For Your Business?, there are plenty of companies that have suffered financial losses from Excel blunders. With as many as 90% of Excel spreadsheets being prone to errors, the easiest way to avoid mistakes is to move to the cloud. Software as a service (SaaS) systems offer remote access and the ability to collaborate among employees, which has many benefits. Not only can employees access the data from anywhere, anytime and from any device; but, employees can also collaborate and work on the document simultaneously without the risk of having multiple versions of the data.

3. Ignoring the budget

Creating a budget is of course important, but if you’re not following the budget it is not doing you any favors. It is important to continuously follow up with the budget to make sure you stay on track with your projections. The use of visual dashboards has made this much easier for finance leaders, as you can easily track expenses and compare with the set budget.

Budgeting mistakes can be detrimental for your business. Make sure you know what the common mistakes are and how to avoid them. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Harvard Business Review’s “Why Budgeting Fails” below.

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Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Predicted to Takeover

Forrester reported last summer that they estimate that cognitive technologies such as robots, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025. Additionally, Gartner has predicted that one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines within ten years. Moreover, McKinsey & Co found in an analysis that “as many as 45% of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.”

AI Takeover – What Does it Mean?

AI takeover is not a new concept; it has served as the main theme in many movies over the last decades; such as the Terminator and Matrix film series. However, science fiction films have mainly focused on true AI takeover (taking control over the planet over the human race).

There are mixed opinions on to what extend of AI takeover will happen and whether it is good for the labor force or not. Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most known scientists, said in 2014 that he believes that “computers will overtake with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours”. Whether it will happen in that time frame or not, one cannot argue with how technology has disrupted the labor force in the past decade.

Does AI Remove or Create Jobs?

Technology has, in the past 10 years, created jobs that never existed before; such as app developer, social media manager, and cloud computing services. Technology has also allowed humans to become more productive and created more opportunities for consumer empowerment. But is this going to be the case with AI?

Fully developed AI systems will essentially perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Thus, machines would be able to learn autonomously, make decisions and interact with the world via sensory capabilities.

Related: 3 Key Tech Benefits in Healthcare

Will Robots Replace Accountants?

Accenture predicts that 80% of accounting and finance tasks will be automated in the next five years. What does this mean for the future of accounting professionals?

AI is going to change the accounting profession. But rather than replacing accountants, it is simply going to alter the tasks of accountants. Bernard Marr, an author specializing in business, technology and big data, wrote in a recent article for Forbes that “it is high time for every accountant to reflect on their job, identify the opportunities machine learning could offer to them, and focus less on the tasks that can be automated and more on those inherently human aspects of their jobs”.

Ultimately, accountants need to stay ahead of the technology curve and figure out what tasks they can automate. This, as a result, will allow for more time on tasks that still require human intelligence. Robots will not replace accountants anytime soon; however, AI will definitely disrupt and change the profession.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

What are you doing to stay ahead of the technology curve?

4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

What is SaaS?

As discussed last week in our Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method where businesses purchase software via a Web-based service. The main difference with this method, from purchasing software the traditional way, is that you rent services and you don’t have to worry about set-up costs or maintenance. Basically, you pay-for-use or via a subscription fee and only use the services you need.

Are Nonprofits Using the Cloud?

Nonprofits strive to invest in their core missions, while at the same time reducing operational cost. For many of these organizations it is difficult to maximize efficiency without breaking the budget. Cloud services are a cost-effective alternative for nonprofits, as they allow organizations to gain access to software without the additional costs of maintaining it on your own. SaaS deployment among organizations is on the rise. According to Cisco Global Cloud Index, it is estimated to grow by 59% in 2018.

Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

SaaS offers advantages for nonprofits of all sizes. While we could make this a lengthy post and touch on all of them we have simply listed the top 4 benefits below and the reason why they solve problems for nonprofits.

1. Upfront investment is minimal

There is no initial cost for setting up or other upfront fees. You would just pay as you go and you can cancel at any point. This is a big benefit to smaller nonprofits especially, who may not have the upfront cash to invest in an IT solution even though it is critical for business. Also, investing in SaaS allows your nonprofit to expense the cost as an operational expenditure rather than capital (which most CFOs prefer).

2. Cost saving

SaaS can be a real money-saver. At first glance, SaaS may look expensive; however, when you take into account the money that is needed to purchase your own software and paying people to manage it, it is quite the opposite. In the long run, SaaS offers a more affordable way to gain access to up-to-date technology without breaking your budget.

3. Scalability

SaaS is extremely flexible as it allows your organization to easily add functionality and applications. This is especially important for nonprofits who are quickly growing, have changing needs and want to have a quick response time.

3. Remote Access

SaaS is delivered via web-based applications, which means that you can access the software from anywhere, any device, and anytime (granted that you have access to the Internet). Remote access is a great benefit for nonprofits who have employees that spend time out in the field but still need access to IT software.

4. No IT headaches

Nonprofits that invest in SaaS can say goodbye to IT troubles such as maintenance, backup, updates and security. Instead, the SaaS provider is in charge of doing all of this and for no extra charge.


Does your nonprofit organization consider making the switch to SaaS? Do you see any hurdles with taking the leap? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

When people refer to “the cloud” nowadays it’s usually not the mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere they are talking about, but the cloud as if refers to cloud computing. Gartner reported earlier this year that the worldwide public cloud services market is expected to grow 18% in 2017 and ultimately total $246.8 billion. Additionally, a survey conducted by Clutch showed that nearly 70% of U.S. businesses said they were planning on increasing their spending on cloud computing in 2017. Needless to say, “the cloud” is here to stay.

But What is “the Cloud”?

It may not be news to you that more and more companies are switching over to “the cloud”, but what is it? In order to fully understand its benefits, this post will give you a beginner’s guide to the cloud and what essentially is so good about it.

How Did the Cloud Get Its Name?

Business Insider reported last year that one of the earliest uses of the term was in a diagram from US Patent 5,485,455, “Network having secure fast packet switching and guaranteed quality of service,” that was filed in January 1994. The figure of the diagram depicts the network model as a cloud-shaped figure. While the authors of the patent didn’t mean to illustrate the network as a cloud, that is how it essentially got its name.

Nevertheless, the term didn’t grow in popularity until Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006. After that, many other companies followed their way by launching software (Salesforce), storage (DropBox), and combinations of the two (Microsoft Office 365). By now, 2017, the term “the cloud” is virtually everywhere.

What is Cloud Computing?

Merriam Webster defines cloud computing as:

“the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet”

Ultimately, it means that you rely on sharing computing resources rather than having your own local servers or personal devices to manage applications. Thus, companies who engage in cloud services, lease their digital assets and their employees essentially don’t know the location of the resources they are using. You can say these resources are simply “in the cloud” somewhere.

Three Types of Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing services is sold in three main models; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This method of delivering software offers businesses access to functions remotely via a Web-based service and at a much lower cost than licensed applications. Most businesses offers SaaS via a monthly fee and clients don’t have to invest in additional hardware or worry about set-up or maintenance.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): With this method, the entire platform is delivered as a service. This means that you would outsource your entire platform instead of having your own employees manage your hardware and software.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This method delivers the entire infrastructure as a service. Your company would essentially outsource the infrastructure but only pay for the resources you end up using.

While the three methods all differ from each other, they also share some similarities:

  1. You rent services instead of purchasing them, which means that IT becomes an operating expense rather than capital
  2. The platform vendors are responsible for all the maintenance, admin, troubleshooting, backup etc.
  3. Platform vendors are easy and flexible in customizing the services to you

Benefits of the Cloud

Related: 5 Top Benefits of Cloud Technology

The reason the cloud has gained so much traction in the past decade is because of all the benefits it provides. Forbes recently listed the following two benefits of the cloud:

  • Reliability: hardware and software redundancy protect you from loss of data
  • Integration: cloud services can integrate with other service systems such as project management, email and marketing, apps and social media

IBM’s dedicated Cloud page on their website lists flexibility, efficiency and strategic value as benefits of the cloud. Cloud computing offers the ability to scale, customization, and remote access via the Internet. Moreover, the cloud removes underlying infrastructure and maintenance costs. IBM also claims that “cloud services give enterprises a competitive advantage by providing the most innovative technology available”.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

Some of the main benefits that our cloud based software clients mention are the following:

  • 24/7 support
  • Utility based
  • Easy and agile deployment
  • Frees up internal resources
  • Lower capital expenditure
  • Highly automated

We would love to hear what your opinions are on the cloud. Have you or do you plan on investing in cloud technology in 2017? What benefits does the cloud offer your business? Do you see any drawbacks with the cloud?

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