It has become fashionable to move accounting to the cloud basically because it makes sound business sense. In a largely remote world, cloud accounting offers the most convenient way to ensure that team members everywhere have complete insights into how business finances are doing at any point in time – not to mention the security and ease-of-use benefits of cloud accounting!
However, cloud accounting needs to be optimised like any system to suit specific needs. Many small businesses fail to fully leverage the potential of cloud accounting, thereby missing out on key financial benefits. Here, we offer our favourite tips accountants can follow to help their clients make the most out of the transition to the cloud.
1. Automate invoices
Cloud accounting solutions allow your clients to create invoices with their branding for visual consistency and automatically send them out based on data pulled from their transaction feed. You can also automate reminder emails for their customers yet to pay.
2. Automate bill capturing
Bills come in all sizes and formats, and manually entering the data from each of them can be a hassle. Luckily, cloud accounting solutions today come with an auto-capture feature that extracts information from digital invoices, email receipts and even photos of paper bills. To further simplify things, you can set up ‘rules’ for vendors with whom your clients regularly transact so that repeated bills can be auto-entered every week or month.
3. Manage KPIs in real-time
Modern cloud accounting solutions come with dashboards and comprehensive reporting features that allow your clients to track their KPIs in real time. With all the data in one place, they can easily pull up customised reports with a few clicks – no need to sort through spreadsheets or keep calling for help.
4. Have bank feeds in place
A bank feed ensures all transactions come directly into the accounting software to be matched up against bills and invoices. It is beneficial for transactions that occur regularly each month and do not need separate invoices. Most cloud accounting solutions easily enable bank feeds, and you can ensure your clients enjoy this feature hassle-free.
5. Use a payment facilitator
Integration with platforms like Stripe or PayPal makes it easier for clients, their customers, and vendors to pay directly through the invoice with a credit card. You can also set up their cloud accounting solution to automatically mark invoices as paid when customers use the facilitator.
It is a good idea to give your clients’ customers the option to save their credit card details on file so they do not need to ask them repeatedly.
6. Set fraud alerts in place
Setting them up is free and straightforward, but they can save your clients potentially millions. With cybercrime on the rise everywhere and hackers becoming more sophisticated, fraud alerts serve as an extra safeguard that keeps your clients and their bank informed of any potentially suspicious or unscrupulous activity.
For instance, some fraud alerts ask for extra confirmation before authorising transactions above a specific limit. Others will require two-factor authentication before every transaction. Look for the subscription that works best for your clients.
It is also advisable to educate the clients’ team so they are always looking for fraudulent or scam activity. Set up secure protocols for authorisation of payments – for example, they would never issue a payment to someone on the back of just an email from you.
7. Take a backup of client data
Whether or not your clients are victims of a cyber-attack, you must implement the best possible security measures. A full data backup will be a massive life-saver in this regard.
There is no telling what can happen if your clients’ critical financial information gets into the wrong hands. Be sure to regularly back their data up, preferably on a secure cloud server, to access it quickly.
8. Integrate multiple solutions
Regarding integrations, it is essential to pick an accounting software with an open API structure so multiple business systems can be synced. Whether a CRM solution or inventory management software, all your clients’ data should flow freely without manual intervention.
9. Reconcile accounts once a month
With a cloud accounting solution, reconciling your clients’ records with their transaction feed becomes a breeze. It is good practice to do so once a month just to ensure everything is balanced and to rectify any corrections or missed entries quickly – if you have set up the automations correctly, this should take very little time!
10. Choose the most cost-efficient option
Not all cloud accounting solutions are created equal – what might work wonderfully for one business may not work for all! Choose a solution that is the best balance of features and cost. Especially when your client is a small business, the fanciest and most costly software may not be ideal.
Pick a good budget solution that lets your clients scale up as they grow, and take it from there. This may seem self-evident. However, there is simply no substitute for the convenience, speed, accuracy and scalability your clients will enjoy when implementing an accounting software solution.
The possibilities are many, from auto-filling daily transactions based on the bank records to streamlining workflows and document storage. Make sure you suggest a solution equipped with all the latest accounting and tax rules so that the clients’ books are automatically sorted into shipshape condition
Outsource and create time for your practice staff
If you are looking for better ways to maximise what your clients do with cloud accounting, you must take the help of outsourced accountants. That way, you free up valuable time that can be better spent elsewhere, such as offering advisory services to clients or networking.
With the shortage of accountants and bookkeepers, recruiting the right staff these days is doubly difficult. Hence, you benefit from instant access to skilled people and eliminate costly benefits packages that would otherwise be invested for a full-time or part-time employee.
Moreover, outsourced accountants know what they are doing, so you can always rely on their expertise and way of working to turn around things faster for your clients.
A cloud accounting solution, ultimately, is only as good as those using it. Modern solutions come with various options to help your clients achieve business goals, be it hitting the sales targets every quarter, becoming profitable or growing at a certain pace.
By leveraging those features, your clients save time and money, streamline their operations and keep their focus on what matters the most, i.e. running and scaling their business. If you would like help to streamline cloud accounting processes for your clients, book a free consultation with Stellaripe experts.