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Taking the final step and becoming a fully cloud-based firm: why it’s more secure and productive
accountants and bookkeepers

Taking the final step and becoming a fully cloud-based firm: why it’s more secure and productive

Any discussion about completing the move from a desktop to a cloud workflow is no longer focused on what it is as much as what it can do to speed up your tax firm’s productivity. While most Australian firms have moved their client accounting tools to the cloud, many haven't made the switch to a 100% cloud-based business, relying on desktop tools and even Excel for some of their smaller, low trading clients, trusts or partnerships returns.

When your processes are in the cloud, you can improve your client experience at every step. After all, taxpayers are looking for convenience and want information accessible instantly. 

Moving those last remaining clients, tools, and workflows to the cloud, and going 100% cloud-based can supercharge your firm’s efficiency.

5 advantages of moving to a cloud workflow

  1. It improves accessibility. When you no longer have desktop tools in the office, or clients still using them, you can access data at any time, anywhere.
  2. It supercharges collaboration. When all of your clients’ business information is in a client portal, you can improve team collaboration, especially for a team that is remote. You aren’t limited to having workers in a local office, or having a client base limited by geography.
  3. It delivers seamless experiences for your team and your clients. The tools in the QuickBooks suite integrate your client accounting, practice management, and BAS and tax prep tools, with a range of other apps integrated to scale with your firm as you grow.
  4. It costs less. When everything is in the cloud, you can save money on servers, printers, and software subscriptions from multiple providers.
Take the stress out of managing your firm

Put aside the doubts

In transitioning your firm to a fully cloud-based operation, you’ll need to overcome 4 hurdles:

1. Personal mindset

This was the largest hurdle for me because I didn’t initially understand how the cloud worked, and I could not visualise how our firm could manage without a physical file folder for each client. As we continued on this journey I’ve found myself having to overcome the same doubts about moving each successive system or process into the cloud, but having overcome the initial hurdle, smooths the rest of the journey.

As Alan FitzGerald Fractional CTO, aka “The Software Whisperer”, of Practice Connections Advisory says “it’s important to have a ‘back to basics’ mindset that looks at the core issues you’re trying to solve, the solutions that can do them, and how they’ll integrate with the key parts of your business that you’re trying to improve, automate, or to make more efficient.” Read more on getting your tech right for today and tomorrow in Alan’s post.

2. Integration and automation

The ultimate goal in moving to a fully cloud-based firm is having a set of fully integrated tools and then automating as many manual processes across them as possible. One of your key goals in this endeavour should be realising the productivity and efficiency gains that automation can deliver. 

The tools in the QuickBooks suite integrate your client accounting, practice management, and BAS and tax prep tools in the cloud, offering further integrations with a wide range of cloud-based apps and solutions including Ignition, Dext, Karbon, Asset Accountant, and even marketing tools like Intuit Mailchimp.

While many firms have long since moved their larger clients to cloud-based solutions, smaller, low-trading clients, or trusts, partnerships and self managed super funds (SMSFs) have often been left behind on legacy desktop tools. Developing an action plan to move those clients to the cloud, in time for this year’s lodgements, will see productivity gains across your team. 

Switching those clients to a tool like QuickBooks Firm Ledger means that when you’re ready to lodge a BAS or tax return, QuickBooks Tax, powered by LodgeiT, streamlines the tax and BAS workflows for those clients with automated data pre-filling and intelligent error-checking technology. 

Automated working papers help you reconcile key accounts by month, quarter or year. Further reducing data entry, business financial information is dynamically pre-filled directly from QuickBooks Firm Ledger, with automated filling of tax forms, and cross-filling on spouses, trust distributions, partnerships, dividends, investment income splits and more.

It also helps you reduce turnaround times for BAS and tax client approvals by letting clients sign their forms electronically and easily return them - QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program members get unlimited e-signatures. Once finalised, you can lodge directly to the ATO.

3. Cloud security

Some clients and employees are still less comfortable using the cloud instead of having physical documents, while others are uncomfortable with cloud storage, especially when they hear about security breaches at large, well-known companies. However, in many instances rather than getting hacked, these companies had security breaches due to human error.

To overcome this hurdle, educate yourself, your clients, and prepare. Encrypted data, passwords, firewalls, malware and antivirus software can support a paperless environment. Never give out your wireless password to even the occasional client who comes by your office. Be on alert for emails that arrive saying a new client needs several years of tax returns and “click here” to access income statements.

4. Getting clients onboard

The best way to get your clients in the cloud is to show them the value and benefits. We live in a world that emphasises convenience and rapid access to information, so it is an incredible advantage for clients to be able to access their information at any time, 24/7. Start slowly, and test the new method with clients who love and appreciate you. They will give you honest feedback and be forgiving as you figure out the ideal process.

I’m sure there are more benefits to moving your practice from desktop to the cloud than just these 4, and every practice is different. Evaluate your own processes and determine the best way to make the transition based on your needs, staffing and client acumen. I made the transition several years ago and never looked back!

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