How I Transitioned My Accounting Practice to the Cloud

How I Transitioned My Accounting Practice to the Cloud

This month, I talked with Michele Roberts, owner and president of Total Accounting and Bookkeeping. She told us what it’s like to start a practice in a world where working in the cloud is now the norm.


Mindy King: What made you choose the cloud when you started your practice?

Michele James Roberts: I worked in private industry for a long time, and I’ve always worked in larger companies. When I went out on my own about a year and half ago, I had to figure out how to do this without that infrastructure, without a corporation around me. Looking at my options, the cloud just made sense. It’s the natural way to do business now.

Mindy: Why?

Michele: Working in the cloud, I know that someone is ensuring that the data is secured and backed up. The data we’re dealing with as accountants is getting so much bigger that storing it can be a challenge. The cloud takes care of that for you and we need to be able to access it from anywhere. The cloud takes care of that, too.

However, the cloud isn’t just about security and accessibility; it’s practical too, especially for me, just starting out. With the cloud, I can outsource the investment in hardware that I may not have resources for … all I need is my laptop.

Mindy: So is it just conventional wisdom to use the cloud now?

Michele: Not quite. When I came on the scene in 2012, I didn’t know much about QuickBooks® Online (QBO) – or at least that’s how I felt. I heard a lot of talk saying that it wasn’t the way to go and that it wasn’t as robust as the desktop. Then, I saw a client who was using it and I quickly realized it was the way to go. The accessibility it offers and the other benefits are undeniable.

Mindy: Did you feel comfortable right away or did it take some training?

Michele: I went through the self-training to become certified on QBO. It was great. I’m not certified on the latest version yet, but I intend to get certified within the next month. Becoming a QuickBooks ProAdvisor® and gaining the free training and software that come with it was key for me. I wouldn’t be able to run this business if it wasn’t for that.

Mindy: Did you test the system out with one of the included sample companies?

Michele: I actually used one of my own sets of books for a rental property I own as a guinea pig company, and last week, I entered a couple of transactions for that account from my phone for the first time. That was amazing. I needed some stuff from Home Depot; I entered the expenses from my car in the parking lot on my phone. Then, I checked on my laptop and they were there. It was seamless.

I mean, you see that in the ads, people updating their books from their phones, but I’ve actually done it! QuickBooks Online really does work with the way we already work – on the go, mobile.

Mindy: How many clients are you serving in the cloud right now?

Michele: Well, my business is new overall, so I don’t have that big a client base yet. I have six clients, but two of those comprise about 10 different files – they have multiple companies that I serve.

Mindy: And did you transition them to the cloud?

Michele: Most of them were in the cloud already when I inherited them. They were on QBO and looking for an accountant who knew the program.

Mindy: So do you see the cloud as a tool to help you grow your business?

Michele: Absolutely. One of the things I like about working in the cloud is the automation. You open the files and things are already done. It makes the work much more efficient and scalable.

Mindy: What would you say about the cloud to other accountants who are just starting out?

Michele: First and foremost, consider your clients’ needs. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your client and if you find that they’re a fit for what the cloud offer with accessibility and efficiency, then I have to say, jump in! Don’t be afraid of it. The way we work today, we need the cloud.