How Cloud Solutions Can Power Modern Accounting Firms

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While cloud solutions were already becoming more prevalent in many industries, COVID-19 has accelerated adoption as the way we work has undergone significant lasting change. However, cloud adoption has been noticeably slower among accounting firms.

Historically, there were many reasons for this slow growth. Many companies have spent years creating highly customized on-premises solutions to meet their specific needs. There were real concerns that they would lose some of the functionality that had been built and refined over the years if they moved to the cloud. There was also a dearth of cloud solutions that allowed professionals to manage critical functions, including payroll, rather than simply outsource it. Additionally, outdated historical ideologies have made it difficult for many companies to move away from their legacy systems.

It’s time for companies to accept the facts and leave their cloud hesitations in the past. There are now enough high-profile and successful cloud providers in the market to present it not only as a viable option, but also as a better choice for the modern professional services business.

Enhanced security with the cloud

Accounting and tax professionals work with highly sensitive financial and personal data, which makes security a paramount requirement. A data breach or ransomware attack can harm businesses financially and permanently damage their reputation. The consequences of cyberattacks are concerning as the frequency has increased dramatically over the past year. In the first six months of 2021 alone, the global volume of ransomware attacks increased by 151%. The size of your business doesn’t matter – cybercriminals don’t discriminate. Threat actors execute attacks for their own monetary gain.

Businesses today need to prioritize cybersecurity to ensure their business stays in business. Historically, some companies believed that keeping data in-house on servers locked in closets was the best option to stay secure. This is no longer the case. Cybercriminals are incredibly savvy and can breach on-premises solutions and capitalize quickly, especially if companies haven’t taken proper precautions and aren’t using outdated end-of-life programs.

Businesses can minimize this threat by ensuring that all operational software is promptly updated to include the latest cybersecurity features. Robust cybersecurity requires ongoing investment and maintenance to ensure systems are protected, and small businesses often may not have the budget or expertise to reinforce adequate internal cybersecurity measures that protect their data.

One of the many benefits of cloud solutions is that vendors prioritize cybersecurity. Today’s cloud technology offers increased security compared to on-premises solutions. As cloud providers are now among the largest companies in the world, they have the resources to prioritize cybersecurity to protect their customers’ data. This means businesses can rely on their cloud solution providers to ensure data protection.

Building for the Future: Attracting and Retaining Talent with Cloud Solutions

Another byproduct of the pandemic was the great resignation. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million employees in the United States left their jobs in November 2021. The great resignation affected employee retention in all sectors, including accounting. We have seen 2-3 million accounting professionals take early retirement. Retaining employees is now an imperative for businesses, including attracting new, younger talent to help propel businesses into the future and meet changing customer needs.

To prepare for the future, CPAs must examine how these generations use technology, instantly accessing systems and applications wherever they are in the world. They expect efficient automated workflows and administration, real-time collaboration with colleagues, and smooth processes with customers.

Cloud solutions enable accounting professionals to use technology and services that reduce administration, reporting and data entry, giving them time and information to resolve issues and make improvements, giving them time to do what they enjoy. Companies can attract new, younger talent by offering cutting-edge technology platforms and positioning themselves as forward-thinking.

Use the cloud to create value

Value creation is the Trojan horse of cloud technology. What value could be gained through effective onboarding, practice management, document management, payroll, and cloud-based client services? What would be the outcome for the company and its customers? Value transcends the business ecosystem, including customers. Cloud solutions meet new expectations for remote and flexible ways of working and remove all geographical barriers.

Accounting professionals are instantly compliant, more productive, and dramatically reduce time spent on administration, reporting, and data entry, so they can focus on building a more profitable business. Advanced cloud solutions also allow professionals to enable data-driven results to power their consulting services by accelerating and enabling data analysis and leveraging predictive capabilities. The value lies in deeper, broader, longer lasting and more profitable customer relationships.

Stay ahead or risk falling behind your competitors

Times and technology are changing in the industry. If your business is resisting moving to the cloud because you risk falling behind your competitors. As data continues to grow exponentially, its critical businesses are realizing their value. Cloud systems will enable your business to securely store, process, analyze and generate value from your customer data.

Adopting cloud technologies can help you grow your business successfully, retain and attract new talent, and offer new services to your customers. The power of the cloud can benefit multiple aspects of your business – and can be the key to your business’s short-term and long-term success.

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Jim Dunham is President and CEO of IRIS Americas.

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