Prepared by: Reinier Duraan (Director MMS Group Cape Town)   Many accountants and users of accounting software are still using the same software which they have been using for the last 20 odd years. Although the software is still performing the necessary primary functions and producing the basic reports, which could in some instances be a bit labour intensive to produce, they still get the job done.  Without it, accountants would struggle to provide up to date information to their clients on a regular basis, which is not beneficial to the business owner or the accountant.

The advent of cloud technology saw users sceptical about not having control over where their data is stored, but more importantly, there were concerns related to who could gain access to their data. Users and accountants felt safe that the information was stored on a server in their offices or on their desktop computers, despite the risks associated with this strategy. Backups of data would normally not happen on a regular basis, and if the user were to make a mistake, restoring these backups would be a time-consuming process which at the very least would result in redoing a day’s worth of data capturing.

In the last 7 or 8 years, society has become more accustomed to using software as a service (SAAS). In layman’s terms, we have become comfortable in accessing programs and data via an internet connection. Some examples of everyday cloud software usage would be your online banking application, Facebook or hosted e-mails with your internet service provider (ISP).

The accounting industry (traditionally seen as being risk-averse and stuck in their ways) has now followed the movement into the cloud. The core benefit is quite simple: being able to assist your clients wherever and whenever they need assistance, as long as you and your accountant both have an internet connection. At MMS, we have chosen Xero as our preferred cloud accounting solution, for the sole reason that it is an accounting system built by business-people. The terminology is easy to understand and with the correct accountant in your corner, clients will have information that is readily available and up to date, which will improve the speed and quality of decision-making for business owners and managers.

Additional benefits of joining the movement into the cloud include the direct bank feeds, which eliminates the need to send your accountant your bank statement on a regular basis, after which he still needs to capture the data on the accounting system. The direct bank feeds enable the user to reconcile their bank transactions daily with minimal effort. Users are also given more transparency as they can see what their accountants are doing – and not doing – which has many benefits for their business. Not only is the relationship with your accountant strengthened, the opportunity is also created for your accountant to provide valuable insight into your business. And let’s be honest, that’s the real reason why you want an accountant by your side.

In this series of articles, we will touch on several subjects, including integrating your accounting system with your online store and payment gateways, using machine learning and artificial intelligence in the accounting process and looking at ways of streamlining your processes to provide your accountant with information. We look forward to you joining us in our journey into the cloud.

Call our Johannesburg office on 011 8312326 or Cape Town office on 021 410 8709 for more information or if you need any assistance.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)