Cloud computing refers to the range of shared services that can be provided over the internet to many users in many locations. Cloud computing negates the need to instal file servers and purchasing software for in-house use. Whilst the term “Cloud Computing” may be new to some, the truth is the technology has been around for quite some time. Applications like Facebook, Google’s programs such as Google Documents and Google Calendar are some of the more recognisable applications.
However, the increasing development of “Cloud” applications provide an opportunity for small business owners to track business activities and improve productivity and profitablity. Some applications that can assist small business owners include project management tools such as Basecamp, work flow / invoicing tools such as WorkflowMax and Freshbooks.
Online accounting programs have been around for a few years now and systems like Xero and Saasu are starting to make in-roads into the market share of traditional accounting systems such as MYOB and Quickbooks. Quickbooks has an online solution and MYOB’s system is due for release later in the year.
We have invested quite some time to learn these systems and have clients currently using them with great results. The main benefits of these systems is that there are no large upfront software costs and secondly any interested party can view information, the client, the accountant or the bank manager. All they need is a login code and a computer with internet access. Xero and Saasu have posted security statements on there website which state that the security of these systems is akin to the online banking systems provided by the big banks.
Existing business may be reluctant to transfer financial data from their existing “inhouse” systems to the online world, but new business startups with tech savvy proprietors are giving consideration to these online systems.
The emergence of online accounting systems may pose a few challenges for the profession such as preserving the duty of confidentiality, particularly where third party information will be disclosed outside the client firm, in the form of an external server somewhere in the world. Nevertheless it is a significant advance in the way accountants will process client information in the future, possibly only matched by the emergence of systems like MYOB and Quickbooks in the 1990’s.