“Because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot over the past several years. It’s become a canary in the coal mine for me, nearly always indicating there’s a process or platform that isn’t working for a business. People become used to all sorts of inefficient, irritating tasks under the guise of “the way we’ve always done it,” or its heels-dug-in cousin phrase, “That will never work.” It’s entertaining to watch the reactions when we change a way we’ve always done things. They range on a scale from, “Hmm, that’s different,” to “Why didn’t we do this 10 years ago?”
If there’s one thing businesses have learned over the past several months, it’s getting business as usual accomplished in any way but that way they’ve always done it. Aside from the prescient few, the majority of companies that were able to continue operations during the pandemic had to shift to virtual work over the course of about two days. As Zoom calls and new Dropbox accounts skyrocketed, the market of cloud accounting platforms and apps also saw a spike in adoption. Companies that were already keeping their books and running their accounting functions in the cloud had a huge advantage in flipping the switch from office work to working from home. The new adopters, in addition to meeting their need to run the business from anywhere, gained efficiency, security, and cost savings once they completed their cloud transition.
As we emerge from the immediate panic and settle into pandemic life, many business owners are realizing that reinventing time-honored processes and operating models can be healthy for the business. I won’t deny that transitioning an entire finance department to new software is a big undertaking. That’s the number one reason businesses avoided doing it in the past—they were occupied elsewhere and not focused on self-improvement. Once it’s done, however, there’s a collective sigh of relief. These are the 3 biggest benefits companies are seeing as they’re transitioning their accounting to the cloud:
1. Fewer mistakes on the books
Cloud accounting is a network of integrated apps that report back to a central hub. Data that was once entered manually into multiple systems or fields flows automatically. The bookkeeping platform pulls a feed from your business bank account and intelligently codes each transaction. Although it takes some effort to properly configure the connections, doing so enables a great deal of automation that ultimately reduces mistakes by cutting out the manual process of keying in data.
2. Actionable insights into financial data
Everyone is focused on their cash flow right now, and for good reason. By pulling in real-time data from your bank, point-of-sale platform, AP and AR, inventory, payroll, and more, cloud accounting means you never fall behind on bookkeeping. Gone are the occurrences of the business owner asking a question and someone in accounting needing to spend days pulling the right report. Cloud platforms offer a range of standard and customizable reports that allow you to see exactly what’s happening with your business, enabling more informed decisions in moments of need.
3. People are spending time on people tasks
Automation is a word that’s simultaneously exciting and scary to many people in the world right now. In accounting, automation is not about eliminating jobs. Instead, it allows us to spend more time on the tasks that require a human touch—whether that’s applying insights to clean financial data, being a better team manager, focusing on strategy, or spending more time in the creative parts of the business. Suffice to say we aren’t too worried about robots carrying off accountants any time soon.
What are the best cloud accounting apps?
If you’re ready to move on from “the way we’ve always done things,” check out these apps that we recommend and use in our own business.
Bookkeeping platform: Xero
As the central hub of your intelligent business platform, Xero gives you a real-time view of your cash flow and offers popular features that will change your business. Try it out for free. All of the apps below are part of Xero’s ecosystem and can be configured to integrate seamlessly.
Accounts Payable: Bill.com
Manage all of your invoices and expenses in one place with Bill.com. Vendors send their invoices directly into the platform, and Bill.com creates a robust audit trail to ensure that the proper approvals are in place for every dollar spent. Automated AP doesn’t just save time and hassle—it also helps to improve security for your business finances.
The ever-changing landscape of labor and tax regulations has accelerated dramatically in 2020, underscoring the importance of a payroll platform that’s up to date and keeps you in compliance. Gusto is our choice for running payroll and managing employee time tracking.
Paperless documentation: Hubdoc
When it comes to financial documents, Hubdoc keeps you organized. But it goes beyond organization: Hubdoc can pull data from receipts, bills, statements, and other paper and convert it into data for your accounting platform. It’s the man behind the curtain taking away manual data entry and keeping many processes running smoothly.
The four apps above are the winning combination we recommend for every small and medium business. From there, we build out the additional features needed by specific types of businesses using other apps from the Xero marketplace. Inventory, e-commerce, point-of-sale, mileage tracking, expense reports, and much more can all be included with the right apps. You don’t have to navigate the marketplace or make the transition alone. Our GCT cloud accounting team can walk by your side, ensuring your tech stack includes processes with a purpose and transitioning your past accounting data into the new system. Contact us now to get started.