Making the switch from Excel to cloud accounting

6 min read
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Excel can serve you well when you’re starting out in business and your turnover is low. It’s all part of being a new business owner, even if the sight of a spreadsheet makes you nervous - and you’re not alone there.

But on a grander scale? For bigger organisations, Excel can spell trouble, as the organisers of the London 2012 Olympics discovered when they oversold 10,000 extra tickets simply after a single keystroke error. For larger organisations and where the stakes are even higher, Excel simply won’t cut it. Instead, online, or cloud, accounting software is a better option.

So if you’re still on the fence about switching to cloud accounting, here are six benefits to consider.

1. You don’t need Excel experience

Because Excel is so widely used, it’s often assumed that it’s simple to master. In reality, if you don’t have specific experience then you’re facing a steep learning curve. It’s easy to include errors, and tricky to undo them. 

And if your business is expanding, setting up an accurate Excel accounting spreadsheet that grows with it takes strategic thinking. Adapting an out-of-date one is difficult, not to mention time-consuming.

Rather than taking the time to train an employee in using Excel - or spending the money to hire an Excel wizard - consider moving to a cloud-based accounting system. This can streamline your own processes and make it much faster to get your accounts up to date.

2. Hiring more staff?

Cloud-based - or online - accounting systems are simply ones which are accessed through the internet. This means the accounts can be accessed from any computer or device that has an internet connection, making it easier and faster to sort your accounts, wherever you are.

Online accounting software, like QuickBooks, streamlines processes and minimizes mistakes. Not only do you save time on admin, but you’ll begin to see increased profits as a result, such as. These are some of the key benefits:

  • * It’s quick and simple to set up

  • * You can access it from any device, including your smartphone

  • * It’s easy to keep tabs on how your business is doing, with dashboards displaying key figures

  • * It syncs with your online banking – no more data entry mistakes

  • * You can use it to create custom invoices

  • * It integrates with your payroll

  • * You’ll get a tax report that matches the HMRC form, making self-assessment simpler

  • * You can see what shape your business is in at the click of a button, enabling you to plan further growth more effectively.

3. Cloud accounting grows with your business

Excel accounting is limited when it comes to more than the bare minimum of staff. A more sophisticated accounting system will help you manage a growing number of employees, by:

  • * Configuring pay schedules and employee details like pension contributions, pay rates and holiday leave accrual to match your payroll

  • * Automating pay slip notifications and leave calculations

  • * Adding timesheets directly into your pay run

  • * Handling multiple bank accounts

  • * Managing tax responsibilities

  • * Submitting real-time PAYE (RTI) data to HMRC

  • * Generating P45s and P60s.

4. Boost your customer service

The customer is king... and the lifeblood of any small business. And keeping hold of those customers and ensuring they’re happy and satisfied is crucial to ensuring long-term success. 

Switching from a manual system on Excel to an online accounting software is a highly effective way of building on good relationships with current customers as well as sourcing new ones. 

This way you can:

  • Track customer records so you can see what they buy, how often and when.

  • Simplify payments by accepting online and mobile payments from credit and debit cards, allowing customers to pay their invoices on the spot.

  • Sync to data from apps like PayPal.

  • Store data on customer purchases, so you don’t need to rifle through the paper trail.

All these things make it much easier for you to see how your customers behave, what works, and what you can improve on. This means you’ll be able to guesstimate your cash flow forecast, while also using the data to influence any future business plans.

5. Choose a solution that fits your business

Do you need to think about stock control and payroll? Or do you just want to make sure you’re prepared for self-assessment? There are plenty of systems available, so it's good to shop around for affordable software that suits your needs. 

Plenty of cloud accounting systems include a variety of features that you may not even need for your business. These often come at a premium price, so it’s best to shop and compare systems and services so you’re not paying for a feature you don’t use - and wasting money in the meantime.

With QuickBooks online accounting software you can choose from four plans, starting with a tax-oriented plan for sole traders, moving through to one for SMEs looking for full finance management. And it’s easy to upgrade and move between the plans should you need to.

6. Ditch the spreadsheets for growth

Moving from Excel spreadsheets to a cloud-based accounting system can do wonders for your rate of growth. Take the Street Style Surgery, for example, which runs creative, entrepreneurial and educational workshops to inspire young people across the UK. 

The company’s founder’s time was always tied up in admin and managing manual processes – all locked into spreadsheets. 

When the company made the move to using the QuickBooks cloud-based accounting software, she was able to devote more time to strategy and business planning, using the reports to forecast and project earnings. This triggered substantial growth, and Street Style Surgery hasn’t looked back.

When to make the move to cloud accounting?

This will depend on your spreadsheet skills and the complexity of your accounts. But there are two main advantages to switching early on in your business’ life: 

  • You’ll have all your figures in one secure, accessible place from the get go

  • A good system will grow with your business and support your needs through every phase of expansion

So if you find yourself struggling to streamline your invoices or you’re in need of a clearer picture of your balance sheets, it’s time to step away from Excel and embrace the easy-to-use functionality of QuickBooks’ online accounting software

Browse the plans available and sign up for a free trial here.

We hope you’ve found this article useful. If you’re looking to stay on top of your accounts as you expand your business, QuickBooks can help with software to streamline your processes and save you money.

Discover QuickBooks online accounting today


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