The State of Cloud Accounting: Then and Now – Part 1

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Reflecting on the past can serve as a helpful reminder of how quickly things can change and how important it is to be prepared for what’s to come.

I’ve been a contributing writer for AccountingWEB for a few years now, and over this time it’s been interesting to sit in the front seat and observe this wave of disruption taking over the accounting industry.

Looking back on some of my articles, some of the warnings and challenges I talked about still ring true today, despite how far we’ve come. Here’s a look:

Taking Back Control of Our Accounting Engagements (2012)

“If you haven’t already started the process of moving toward the cloud and changing how you interact with your clients – it is time to take the first step. If not, you are going to be left behind by the firms that have already started down this path and are developing strong, profitable practices, as well as getting some freedom back in their life. The efficiencies you are able to drive will streamline work in your firm, provide the platform you need to do the accounting the way you want to, and open the door to new services and opportunities with clients you would have never had before. Take the first steps to regain control of the accounting and deliver your services the way you know is best for you and your client, with the flexibility to offer it the way the client wants – you and your client will both be happier in the long run!”

The call to action I urged in this piece is true more so now than ever. In the five short years since this article came out, adoption of cloud accounting has increased. Last year, the AICPA conducted research that found 56 percent of accountants surveyed used cloud-based software, an uptick of 17 percent from two years prior. It’s good progress, but we’ve still got a ways to go.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve and benefit from new technological advancements, it’s important to pay attention to these developments and understand how you can take advantage. As more sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are introduced into cloud accounting software, don’t let these things pass you by.

Marketing Your Cloud Accounting Services Differently Than Audit and Tax (2013)

“Predominantly, when I meet with new firms and go over the cloud accounting services opportunity, the first thing they want to do is start putting together a marketing plan. Most firms quickly find they’re lost when they start this way. They are desperate for help with creating sales materials to take to market and how to market the service line.

Without putting together the offering first, the firm will quickly revert to marketing how they’ve always sold their other services, such as audit and tax. Without taking the time to build the solution first, you end up marketing services as you have always done, rather than a solution.”

For many accounting professionals I speak to, after they begin transitioning to the cloud and their firms are finally starting to take off, they often struggle with how to organize at scale because they never put a plan in place. Many of our peers want to get their cloud accounting services out there, but it’s important not to get ahead of yourself. You’ve got to know exactly what you’re putting out there first.

In order to do this, complete a review each year of your services, what you’ve been doing right and wrong, and if you’re effectively serving your firm’s verticals.

Tune in next month for the final article in this two-part series.

Related article:

The State of AI, Machine Learning, and Accounting

About Amy Vetter

Amy Vetter

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is Global VP, Education & US Head of Accounting at Xero.

 

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Aug 1st 2017 14:44

Adopting technology and the cloud is vitally important for firms that want to stay current and operate at their best. Navigating the world of new technology is difficult, but the payoff for effective tech use can be huge.

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By Broniec
Oct 25th 2017 19:51

The cloud is convenient, but there must be certain hands on aspects that we can't afford to let go of. never underestimate the value of a calculator, pencil and pad of paper. Even when we do AP Audits, we mix automation, cloud technology and go old fashioned manual work.

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Oct 27th 2017 12:19

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