As businesses in all industries make the switch to cloud computing, the finance and accounting industries are following suit – albeit with their own innovative, technological solutions.

As with many cloud options, to be effective, accounting options should consolidate various business functions and provide clients with a holistic view of their organization. This comprehensive view is vital to making clients aware of the existing opportunities and risks present, which the cloud can help mitigate.

Cloud accounting software can be used for a wide range of accounting needs, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, account reconciliations, financial reporting and more. As cloud accounting continues to evolve, so too do the features it has to offer.

Also, in today’s uncertain political climate and with tax policy changes seemingly looming at every bend, the ability to administer changes in real-time is all the more essential. When a new accounting standard or tax law is enacted, businesses can proactively use cloud computing capabilities to see the implications of policy change right away.

Key cloud capabilities that are revolutionizing the accounting industry include:

  • Access to financial information no matter where someone is geographically
  • Automated tactical vendor management workflows across the entire accounts payable process that increase purchasing speed, accuracy and efficiency
  • Ability to configure workflows, screens and preferences, all without costly coding or scripting
  • Ability to store and share documents online with unlimited document management
  • Ability to customize the look of financial management systems

Applying cloud solutions offers users the ability to determine the best choice for each financial management solution and integrating those applications into the general ledger. This process can improve efficiency and accuracy across the entire financial landscape of an organization. Payroll, point of sale systems, and customer relationship management are all applications that are commonly integrated into cloud-based financial management and accounting solutions.

From a business partner perspective, cloud computing is a great way to build better working relationships between organizations and accounting firms. Real-time insights into financial practices and business transactions allow advisors to provide proactive, year-round strategic support and business planning. In the past, businesses and accounting firms had to operate through long email chains that only one person can access at a time and with both parties often caught up in the waiting game. Financial management services utilizing the cloud enable parties to make changes in real-time and simplify the process for the business and firm to work hand-in-hand.

Cloud computing is also changing the way businesses utilize their accounting firms. Industry trends demonstrate that businesses are increasingly dependent on outsourcing services to handle their financial needs. Accounting firms across the nation are being sought after to manage IT, finance, payroll and benefits needs, and they can efficiently and effectively do so utilizing cloud computing technology.

As the technology age continues to rapidly evolve, we can expect cloud-based solutions and capabilities to continue to increase efficiency for businesses. It is vital for accounting firms to remain up-to-speed on the latest advancements to maintain relevance as the industry advances. This puts more pressure on one-stop firms to maintain a full spectrum of support services in order to effectively meet all business needs with security and efficiency. But the gains in efficiency and productivity make it worth the effort.

About the Author

Sharon Berman leads the Rehmann SkyBooks team, which is the firm’s cloud accounting initiative. She is based in the Rehmann Farmington Hills, Michigan, office.