Accounting

How Accounting Firms Can Make More Money in the Cloud

By Caron Beesley

Advances in technology like cloud computing are great for most businesses, increasing productivity gains and saving money. But for accountants and CPAs, it’s a double-edged sword.

Cloud accounting software firms have used cloud technology to penetrate deep into the profits of accounting firms by putting tax preparation, cash flow management, accounting, and payroll into the hands of clients. This in turn diminishes the control that accountants have over their core services and their most precious assets – client relationships.

But there’s good news, the cloud can actually change that equation and help accountants refocus their practices on accountant-centric solutions and cut costs while significantly growing their bottom line.

Here’s how:

Offload your IT infrastructure to the Cloud

Struggling to keep up local servers and PCs? Fed up shuffling emails back and forth and maintaining accurate versions of client files? Replacing your IT infrastructure with a secure, fully managed, cloud-based alternative is worth consideration.

The cloud eliminates the need for in-house technology infrastructure such as servers and software to buy, run and maintain.

What can I move to the cloud? Almost everything. A good place to start is with accounting software or office productivity tools. For example, you can ditch your Microsoft Office and Exchange platforms in favor of Office 365 or Google Apps for Business. The cloud is also a secure repository for document management and data storage (great for disaster recovery purposes). Alternatively, you can outsource your entire infrastructure.

What about the cost? Instead of paying expensive license fees, cloud providers charge users based on a pay-as-you-go or usage model. And, because everything is managed, maintained, and upgraded by your cloud provider, you can eliminate hardware and maintenance costs.

What cloud services should we consider? Many cloud solutions are designed with accounting firms in mind. Xcentric Cloud, for example, allows firms to outsource business applications, store data, or offload their entire IT functions to a secure-cloud based solution. Users also benefit from enterprise-grade security. Priced on a per-user basis, Xcentric Cloud includes automatic upgrades and 24×7 support. Partners and staff can also access the network and applications from any device, anytime-anywhere. Read more about plans and pricing.

Another option for accounting firms is Cloud9 Real Time. The solution includes support for QuickBooks and Sage hosting, cloud-hosted document management system, dashboard access to files, and more. Cloud9 is available for a free 7-day trial here.

Grow your Accounting Business with the Cloud

 

Looking for a way to become more relevant to your clients and grow your revenue streams beyond tax season? Accounting has increasingly become dominated by DIY solutions, which put clients in the driving seat, not accountants. But cloud represents an opportunity to turn this model on its head.

Solution provider Accountants World, for example, put accountants back in charge with a full suite of integrated cloud-based accounting-centric tools that can help firms manage their practice, perform client engagements, and offer new services they couldn’t offer in the past.

Running entirely in the cloud, with private-labeled client portals, accountants can offer clients a whole suite of business accounting services (payroll, cash flow management, virtual CFO services, transaction processing and more) and perform value-added services quicker and faster.

Cloud9 also operates in this market offering a private-labeled Virtual Office e-Dashboard that lets clients and their CPAs easily exchange documents, enable multi-user use of Sage and QuickBooks, and virtual access to third-party programs like Microsoft Office.

While cloud service providers don’t guarantee instant success, Accountants World suggests that growth ratios of 50% and higher are possible – if you optimize use within your firm and among your client base.

Marketing your new value-added cloud services is also important. Get tips on how to market your new cloud accounting solutions from Accounting Web.

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