We organize and store our most important documents in the form of paper. Paper documents have been around since the inception of accounting. But this doesn’t mean that it is the best way to deal with data. Complete dependency on paper exposes firms to various complications related to employee productivity and document storage cost.
The desire for a paperless accounting firm has been around for quite some time now. With time, things should evolve, and we should adopt newer and better methods that enhance productivity. That’s why many accounting firms have made it a mission to go paperless and deploy ways that catalyze this transition.
However, not many accounting firms have been able to achieve it. Why? Because such changes take time to implement, and humans resist such drastic changes. Going completely digital means that there will be new protocols in place, people will have to adapt to a unique working style and invest their time learning new things.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way out - adopting the cloud.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the deployment of on-demand computing services like data storage, processing, databases, networking, etc. over the internet and on a pay-as-you-use basis.
Companies can rent access to the services they need rather than investing heavily in creating their IT infrastructure. This way, accountants and accounting firms can ditch the massive upfront costs and keep the cash-in-hand to use it for other purposes. In short, it creates a digital environment that can be accessed from anywhere using any device.
Cloud computing covers multiple accounting services, such as keeping records of necessary accounting data, hosting accounting software on the cloud, and executing daily accounting tasks.
Ways in which cloud computing helps accountants go paperless
Yes, it is a fact that adopting the cloud creates a digital environment that minimizes the use of paper, reduces work travel, and is beneficial for the environment as well. For instance, you regularly travel to meet your clients and gain access to their data and applications.
If all this data and accounting applications are hosted on the cloud, you and your clients can work together without traveling. This way, you save the money spent on commuting, staying at a hotel, and everyone knows that eating outside usually costs way more than home-cooked food.
Similarly, going digital means that you’ll use your printer less and save on printer ink, purchasing paper, and other similar expenses. Dealing with less paper also encourages sending digital invoices, automating the invoicing process, and increasing the chances of fast and timely payments.
If you still receive mails from your clients (accounting firms get a lot of mails), sorting them and taking the necessary action must cost you a lot of time. These mails can be about anything ranging from checks to handling client queries, invoicing, and more.
The first step is to sort all of them (which is a cumbersome task in itself), then you also need storage space (for the ones you decide to keep), and access them when needed.
The cloud helps reduce this hassle by reducing the number of mails you receive. Other important documents and processes like invoicing and payroll can be processed smoothly and quickly by sharing it on a common cloud platform.
It is imperative to use greener and eco-friendly methods for filing taxes keeping the current environmental situation in mind. In fact, companies and governments across the globe are pushing for adopting as many paperless practices as possible and reducing their carbon footprint.
However, accountants find it hard to concentrate on growth while keeping the environment in mind. This is precisely where the cloud can help.
Adopting the cloud for filing taxes means that all the data is stored electronically (no paper is used/ wasted even while filing the returns). You have the freedom to file your return from any part of the world without using a single piece of paper. This also means that your return will quickly reach the IRS, be processed smoothly, and any refund (if applicable) will reach you within no time.
If you still store all your financial data, you must be aware of the fact that it needs a large storage space. But what if an accidental fire breaks out at your office? All those paper documents will be damaged, and it will be impossible to retrieve the data. This scenario also means that your firm’s reputation will be hampered.
However, cloud-based storage is safer than storing hard copies. Your service provider will ensure that it is safe and keep its confidentiality. Reputed service providers also have a team of experienced IT professionals who monitor your data for any suspicious activity and use the latest antivirus and firewalls to create a foolproof secure storage infrastructure.
Also, some service providers offer BCDR - Business Continuity and Data Recovery to ensure that your business functions even in case of an emergency.
Accountants and CPAs have to work within a team to assist their clients. This involves internal meetings, meetings with the client, and regular internal collaboration as well. If you still use paper-based methods to store data and work on your accounting tasks, collaboration within the teams is bound to be minimal.
Cloud-based accounting allows multiple users to access the data at the same time. This way, you can discuss strategies, analyze the digits, and make changes to the data without any hassle. It also leads to better transparency, eventually creating a system that saves time and gets the work done quicker.
Being in the accounting industry is a responsible job. CPAs, accountants, and firms deal with loads of sensitive data and store it to execute their tasks. It makes data security an integral part of your service, and paper-based accounting methods are well known for risks like theft and data loss.
Also, managing loads of paper documents is a cumbersome task and require a lot of space as well. All these drawbacks also add to the cost of managing the paper documents, eventually decreasing the revenue generation.
Cloud-based accounting methods are your best friend when it comes to managing financial data and executing your tasks. The ways mentioned above will give you a clear picture of the hassles the cloud solves.
Sharad Acharya, technical content writer, Ace Cloud Hosting