From cloud computing to blockchain, there are many different technologies available to help maximize accounting efficiency. Choosing the right tech for the job is essential for setting yourself apart from competition, and fostering long-lasting, trusting relationships with your clients. Determining what technology is best for your accounting practice starts with learning about the available tools, and looking at the size of your operation, the types of clients you serve, and the specific services you offer.
Cloud computing is a method of storing and accessing data and software programs remotely. Your data is stored on a remote server, and is accessed over an internet connection. Cloud computing can be more secure and offer more versatility than traditional in-house data storage methods.
If you’re a freelance accountant or an incorporated sole proprietor, this technology is a great way to travel with your data. For example, if you’re a tax accountant dealing with numerous private clients, and you don’t have a dedicated office space, use cloud storage to securely access all the files and programs you need from a client’s home computer or your own laptop.
Large accounting firms might find cloud methods helpful for storing and backing up records and client information. It’s good to keep hard copies and digital copies on your own servers, but if anything ever happened to damage those records, a secure cloud backup could save you a massive headache.
Apps and Software
As of 2018, a huge number of options for accounting software and applications is available. There are a few things to consider when you decide to purchase software for your accounting practice.
The cost of a software program is a big consideration for many accountants, especially partners and sole proprietors. Weigh the benefits of improved work efficiency against the upfront and maintenance costs of your software purchase. You should also consider the tax implications of purchasing accounting software; in many cases, this can be claimed as a capital expense.
Other things to consider are scalability, ease of use, and system requirements. How scalable is the program? Is there a limit on the number of simultaneous users? Large firms, in particular, need software that supports a large number of users and can store data for a lot of clients. Additionally, large firms also tend to need software that’s intuitive and easy to use. You want to be reasonably certain that all your co-workers or employees are using the software properly and efficiently. Training new employees to use the software shouldn’t eat up too much of your time.
System requirements should be one of your first considerations when you’re looking for software or applications. You don’t want to have to upgrade all of your computers just to accommodate a new software program. Do you have a dedicated network of PCs in an office with a large storage capacity, or are you usually working remotely from a laptop or tablet? Can your software be used on multiple devices? What sort of licencing agreement will you need?
A small firm, a sole proprietorship, or a partnership could use a low-cost app with more minimal system requirements to improve mobility. Don’t forget to consider the needs of your clients as well. Accountants performing niche services for corporate clients need software that offers the appropriate features and functions, while tax accountants working with private individuals can go with something more basic.
Creating secure backups with cloud computing is a good way to improve security in your accounting firm. But if your firm deals with corporate clients and you frequently need to view transactions or perform audits, you may want to consider adding blockchain to your accounting tools. Blockchain is a digital ledger technology that uses a large network of computers to verify each transaction that passes through a system.
You can use blockchain to verify payment transactions within your own firm. Blockchain transactions are quite secure, and should offer peace of mind to both you and your clients. This technology is particularly important for those who work with business clients who, in turn, deal with a variety of vendors. Encouraging business clients to utilize blockchain can improve internal record-keeping, and make your audits more efficient and less painful.
In this context, artificial intelligence refers to programs like bots that can assist with customer service and troubleshooting. In large firms, artificial intelligence can be helpful as a way to provide real-time support for clients who have simple questions. A chat bot can direct a client to resources that might help with their problem, or if the problem turns out to be more complex, to a human accountant who can provide more in-depth assistance.
Specific artificial intelligence processes such as machine learning also allow technology to gain information that can help you keep better records and provide more specialized customer service. Use artificial intelligence to gather information about the types of questions that your clients are asking, and the type of service your firm provides most often. In conjunction with an internal audit of your business practices, artificial intelligence can improve your ability to assist clients based on individual needs.
Accounting technology comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes, each suitable to a particular style of accounting and business model. Whether you’re a freelance accountant, or run a large corporate firm, integrating one or more of these technologies into your business model is a great way to stay relevant and provide the best possible service.