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Chandra Bhansali
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
The desktop computing era gave us Do-It- Yourself (DIY) accounting systems created for small business owners. Accountants have become accustomed to working with their clients' DIY accounting software solutions, despite their inherent risks and limitations. Now, cloud-based professional accounting systems let accountants overcome these challenges. Unlike DIY systems, these professional systems combine the functionality of current DIY systems with the more sophisticated capabilities accountants need for their professional work. These systems allow accountants to work collaboratively with their clients, while they remain in the control of accounting process-a true win-win.

While nearly 40 percent of accountants want to update their current offerings in order to remain competitive, many have been slow to adopt the cloud because they're unaware of the benefits that it offers.

Smoothing Operations with Seamless Collaboration:

Most business owners that use DIY accounting programs don't have the basic understanding of accounting required to operate the DIY systems properly. This results in errors which accountants have to spend hours to correct. This is one of the biggest drains on accountants' time.

Integrated cloud-based accounting programs allow accountants set up the entire system correctly and then give clients access to only the functions they're capable of performing. This customization minimizes client errors and makes the system easier for clients to use. By now focusing less on corrections, CPAs can provide more value to their business clients.

Currently accountants have to work with multiple versions of the same software, as most clients lag behind in upgrading their software. This creates a major technology and process challenge for accountants. Accountants and clients also constantly struggle with applying updates. With a unified, cloud-based solution, accountants and clients always work on the same, most updated version.

Customization of Accounting Services:

Currently with desktop DIY systems, accountants' ability to tailor their services based on each client's needs is limited. Cloud-based professional systems allow accountants to customize their services for each client based on their needs.

For example, some clients may only want to use the system to write checks and enter deposits. Accountants can offer a system that let them perform those functions quickly. Other clients may want their internal staff to take care of account receivables and accounts payable. Accountants can personalize the system for that ability.

According to a survey by SCORE, 40 percent of business owners said bookkeeping and taxes are the worst part of owning a company. Cloudbased professional accounting systems offer a solution: let their accountants' staff perform the functions clients used to perform, only faster, easier and more accurately-and without leaving their office. When accountants take on the full burden of all accounting functions, clients can focus on what they do best: managing and growing their practices. Meanwhile, accountants boost their bottom line. It's a win-win for both accountants and their clients.

Expanding Services and Adding Value:

Most businesses need their accountants' help in addressing finance-related issues. However, two limitations of desktop systems prevented accountants from delivering that service effectively. First, desktop systems lack the tools needed. Secondly, the data is stale and dated by the time it gets to accountants. Cloud-based professional accounting systems overcome both these limitations. Accountants have access to client financial data in real-time and true professional systems include analytical tools needed to monitor the fiscal health of clients' businesses. These include alerts, snapshots, dashboard, financial ratios and more. Now, right from their offices, CPAs can offer clients virtual CFO services that are crucial for running an efficient operation.

Cloud-based, professional payroll systems are also available, letting accountants offer payroll services easily and profitably without worrying about any compliance headaches. Given the choice, most clients prefer to get all their services from their trusted accountants.

Stronger Client Relationships:

The more services offered, the stronger client relationships become, and consequently, client retention becomes less of an issue. CPAs that offer complete accounting and payroll services are more likely to retain clients than those only offering tax services or preparing financials.

Cloud computing is changing the way many industries operate, and in accounting it has created tremendous opportunities. Accountants shouldn't miss this unique chance to leverage cloud-based professional systems to better serve their clients and boost their bottom line.

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