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Cloud computing, who's doing it?

Accounting is just one of the software programs you can take into the cloud, and a major one for small businesses. Here's how some SMBs are using it.

The last couple of years

Over the last couple of years, cloud computing has become a hotly discussed topic. A countless number of applications and software programs that can operate online, on any device, have become available and more are being offered all the time.

Small businesses are truly primed to benefit from cloud research. It offers more agility, greater flexibility and improves how information is shared with stakeholders. One of the most vital tools for any SMB is accounting software, and many businesses throughout Australia have benefited enormously from moving their accounting software into the cloud.

Comtek NQ is a regional electronics installation business in North Queensland that services an area than spans 350km. The owner, Jim Lennox, says he could travel up to three-and-a-half hours in a day. Last year, he took an interest in online accounting because he wanted an easier way of working with files when he was in and out of the office.

Mobility is an obvious reason why cloud accounting software is attractive to many small business owners, however there are far more benefits than being able to access your finances from anywhere. Norstate Marketing, a diverse business selling both promotional merchandise and automotive parts, took on online accounting to save time processing orders and improve accuracy by having all staff accessing the one data file online. The business has sales representatives on the road who sell products to mechanics at their workshop and process orders at that time of sale.

Before moving to online accounting, the Norstate Marketing on-the-road sales representatives would keep a copy of the companies data file with them for a week. Whilst this method allowed staff to complete there and then invoicing, they couldn't be sure that all products were in stock so they would constantly be calling back in to the office staff so they could check the 'live' data file in the office.

Instant business decisionsHaving instant access to business reporting via an online accounting system will help ensure business decisions are validated and risks minimised. Cashflow, profit and loss, balance sheet and bank reconciliation reports are in the extreme important and will help you remain fully aware of how the business is fairing at any point as time goes by. Many successful operators review their critical business reports daily and by utilising an online accounting system you can have access to these reports from anywhere, at anytime.

While lots of businesses are benefitting from going online, those that are fairing the best are doing their homework first. As mentioned before, there are a lot of companies offering cloud applications and software for small businesses, so earlier making a decision on an online accounting program it's worth considering the costs involved, how easy the program will be for you to use and where your data will be held. When using an online accounting program your data is stored remotely, not on your premises or within your IT environment. You should as well check which country your data is being held in, in particular it's important your data is stored in Australia according to Australian privacy laws.

While Gross's business has experienced lots of benefits by moving into the cloud, she puts security at the top of her list. "During there have been several benefits to moving online for our business, for me personally I am now a lot more confident about the security of my data than I was earlier. It is a huge weight off my mind knowing that all of our company information is not just sitting in the office overnight or relying on a back-up process."

More information: Dynamicbusiness.com