brightbook

Cloud accounting – is it the way forward?

You may be thinking about starting to use an accounting package instead of Excel or a manual cashbook or you may be thinking about changing accounting package.  Should you consider a cloud accounting package?

What does a cloud accounting package mean?  We are all used to using some ‘cloud’ services, such as hotmail, twitter, facebook.  All of these services are hosted in a ‘cloud’ rather than on your laptop/computer/server.  Traditionally accounting packages have been hosted and maintained in-house but the trend is beginning to slowly move towards ‘cloud’ accounting packages and all of their advantages.

Advantages

•Access to your accounts from anywhere.
•You can share information with other people, including your accountant!!
•Low start up cost, typically a monthly fee.
•Most offer a month’s free trial so you can check the product works for you.
•Regular updates are made to the software. Support is normally included in the monthly price.
•You do not need large disk space to store an accounting package and all the data.

Disadvantages

•There is a monthly fee so it may work out more expensive.
•You may not want to share certain information with other people in the business that has access to the software. (This can normally be controlled by only giving each user access to the areas of the system that they need and not the whole package).
•Some businesses prefer to keep all their records in-house.
•All your information is held over the internet, you need to ensure that the software is secure and they are a reliable business.
•You need to ensure you have internet access where you intend to use it.
In my opinion, as an accountant, cloud accounting is the way forward.  The fact that you can access your accounting information from anywhere, without needing to log on to the one computer in the office that holds all of the information, is a huge advantage.  You can be away on holiday and keep an eye on how your business is doing.  It is also handy that your accountant can log on throughout the year, for example if there is a complex transaction that needs posting, or if management accounts need preparing.  With direct access to your system your accountant should be able to provide you with a higher quality, more cost effective service.  It also means that you can use a freelance, offsite, bookkeeper who can maintain you accounting records virtually without ever having to visit your premises, which can reduce the cost of outsourcing your accounting function.
There are a wide variety of providers out there, and as noted above, most offer a free month’s trial so you can see if the system suits you and your needs.  Providers include Freeagent, Xero, Clearbooks, Sage One and Brightbook.  Brightbook’s service is currently free with no subscription so it may be a good place to start out for the smaller business.  However if your turnover is over £100k or you have a complex business model it may not offer you all of the features that you require.
Remember: an accounting system can only be as good as the information that you put in it.  If the system is not kept up to date with the bank account being regularly reconciled then the information that you get out of it will not give you the full picture.
At jla accounting we can help you set up your accounting system and offer you bookkeeping training to ensure that you are using your chosen package correctly.  We also offer a bookkeeping service and can use a cloud accounting package meaning that you can log on to your accounting records at any time and know that you are seeing up to date, accurate information.
If you are interested in any of our services please  contact Julie on 07872 903849 or at julie@jlaaccounting.co.uk or get in touch.


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JLA Accounting is a Firm Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales

Firm Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales