What do a pastry chef, a construction project manager and a creative design director have in common? As small-business owners, each opened up shop to serve customers and do what they love -- not to spend hours on accounting or bookkeeping.
Fortunately, today’s small-business owner can take advantage of an ever-growing suite of organizational tools and technologies to reduce the headaches of managing invoices, bills and receipts while increasing the time spent pursuing new business opportunities. These tools are increasingly available as cloud-based offerings, and most small businesses should consider migrating their current accounting workflows to the cloud.
What, exactly, is the cloud? Cloud-based software, or software as a service (SaaS), offers users access to technology on a subscription basis. The software provider securely hosts all necessary databases and servers, and small-business owners access their data anytime, anywhere via internet connection.
Many small-business owners may wonder if they can expect the same functionality from cloud-based accounting programs that they’re accustomed to with traditional desktop versions. While it’s true that cloud-based versions of tools like QuickBooks may provide slightly different functionality compared with a desktop version, what current versions of cloud tools lack in functionality they make up for in versatility and long-term viability.
Software providers are likely to continue phasing out desktop solutions and limiting or discontinuing support, which means that customers who migrate accounting workflows to the cloud today won’t be stuck with an unsupported product in the future. Additionally, small businesses that upgrade accounting workflows to the cloud can also enjoy a number of other benefits that SaaS models allow. Here are a few:
1. Enable smart organization for a distributed workforce.
Since accounting information stored in the cloud can be added or accessed anywhere, team members can quickly and easily complete their work regardless of their physical location. Whether a sales rep needs to add expense receipts or a project manager needs to check an invoice for a supplier, having cloud-based tools in place makes organizing and accessing important information as easy as taking a picture of a document or searching by vendor, amount or date.
2. Maintain relationships and easily verify discrepancies.
Relationships with vendors and distributors play an enormous role in the success of many small businesses. When a vendor or distributor questions why a bill hasn’t been paid, small-business owners that leverage cloud-based tools can quickly search for invoices. Advanced cloud tools allow team members to search by virtually any term to locate a bill and identify whether it was missed and pay for it quickly to preserve the vendor relationship.
3. Use a broader suite of secure apps.
Cloud applications such as QuickBooks Online and Neat not only provide access to information and documents from any device, but they also integrate with other cloud-based tools. As soon as a small business starts using one cloud-based accounting technology, it’s easy to extract and leverage data across a number of different platforms and reduce time spent on manual data entry.
Small-business owners start businesses because of passion for what they do -- not to spend time managing paperwork. Migrating traditional accounting workflows to cloud-based solutions enables small-business owners to reduce time spent managing information and improve overall operational efficiency.