Mobilizing the Cloud for Small Business Accounting

By Michael Callan, CPA, cofounder of Swizznet
 
It wasn't that long ago that small and medium-size business (SMB) accounting software resided on a PC  and only on a PC. Today, with more than 1.3 million Intuit QuickBooks users alone accessing the online version of QuickBooks, it's time for every accountant to take a look at what Cloud computing can offer for streamlining the process of everyday tasks. When coupled with mobile devices, the Cloud offers the freedom of anywhere/anytime availability that can be hugely beneficial to in-house financial teams as well as consultants.
 
In a recent American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) white paper, Accounting Services: Harness the Power of the Cloud, based on research by Dr. Geoffrey Moore, the AICPA strongly endorsed the move from paper to digital, recommending that members harness the power of pervasive computing: "The key investment to fund is a technology transition focused on aggressively displacing the use of paper and on-premise PC hosting in favor of digital workflows hosted in the Cloud. Paper is the anchor that keeps CAS [client accounting services] practice margins at unacceptably low levels, so driving it out of the system is fundamental to building a sustainable business." 
 
I'd go one step further. While it's called Cloud computing today, in the very near future, it will just be the way we do business. And mobile technologies will play a key role in amplifying the Cloud's usefulness by enabling accountants to exchange information with their teams and/or clients on demand, 24/7. 
 
It's already happening. Now that the full power and data of applications like QuickBooks are available to users on a mobile phone or tablet, businesses are taking the opportunity to rationalize their internal processes. For example, a construction firm or plumber can create and enter a quote or invoice while on-site using a tablet, rather than taking down data, going back to the office, and creating an invoice there. Not only does this save time, it minimizes the need for double entry and reduces mistakes, thereby improving overall data accuracy. 

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