How Cloud Accounting is Taking Firms Global
Small accounting firms used to rely on face-to-face meetings for local business, but new technology tools now allow accounting firms of any size to take on clients from all over the world. These tools enable users to handle receipt management, document management, billing, and even remote management of staff and time over the cloud.
If you're ready to take your business to the next level, consider implementing these solutions:
Receipt management used to be one of the most time-consuming and frustrating parts of accounting. Most veteran accountants can recall a time when a client would walk in with their business receipts stored in a shoebox or grocery bag, mixed with their personal finances. Dealing with this in person can be challenging enough, but doing it for a client at a remote location would be virtually impossible.
Through the cloud, you can have clients send virtual copies of receipts directly to you from any location, before the originals get buried in a shoebox. If your client is on a mobile device, they can use their device’s built-in camera to capture scans of receipts, and then transmit them to you as a text or email attachment, through either a file sharing program or a receipt scanning and expense tracking app, such as Shoeboxed, which works in coordination with popular accounting solutions such as QuickBooks® Online.
If your client is using a desktop computer, they can use a scanner to create a virtual copy of their receipt. This can then be sent to you through a cloud-based email program, such as the Outlook feature of Office 365, through the desktop version of Dropbox or another cloud-based file sharing program.
Document management is another once-cumbersome bookkeeping task that the cloud has made both easier and possible to handle remotely. Documents used to have to be stored in manila folders, boxes, file cabinets and shelves, which took up space, created clutter and required periodic housekeeping to clear sufficient storage space. Copies of documents also had to be physically printed and stored.
With the cloud, you can reduce office clutter and save shelf space by storing virtual versions of physical documents from any location, as well as paperless original electronic documents. Online file storage tools, such as OneDrive, let you store your important documents on the cloud. Tools, such as SmartVault, add enhanced security features for storing documents and sharing them with your team and your clients. You can also use these tools and services to create backup copies of documents to reduce the risk of losing data.
Staff and Time Management
Managing time tracking for your staff is another area where the cloud has made it easy for accounting firms, even if they use remote workers. Keeping track of your staff’s time on the clock used to be a matter of punching a clock, or manually logging and tallying hours. This way of doing things was tedious, time-consuming, imprecise and open to abuse. When using time tracking to bill a client, this could be especially problematic.
With cloud-based time tracking apps, keeping track of your staff’s time on the clock and billable hours is easier than ever before, whether your staff is in or out of the office. Popular cloud-based time tracking apps, such as TSheets, let you automate employee time tracking, as well as related tasks such as scheduling shifts and vacations. It even syncs with GPS tracking so that you can accurately track staff location when they’re working out of the office. TSheets syncs with popular accounting software to help you automate tasks related to time tracking, enabling you to save hours and expenses on administrative tasks.
Billing used to involve mailing your clients an invoice, waiting for their check to come in and driving to the bank to cash their check. This meant you had to do extra paperwork just to get paid, and it could take days or weeks for payments to come in, creating potential cash-flow issues and accounts receivable problems.
Cloud-based billing apps, such as Practice Ignition and 17hats, take the paperwork out of billing, while letting you get paid faster, no matter where your clients are located. Practice Ignition lets you automate fixed fee or value-based billing and management of clients on retainer, with additional features that make it easier to onboard clients, create proposals and communicate with your client base through a central dashboard.
17hats enables online payment processing and electronic contract signing and invoices, along with providing features to attract and onboard new clients, communicate with clients through a single dashboard, and track billable time. Both apps integrate with QuickBooks Online, the popular accounting software that conveniently streamlines your billing procedures and saves you time.