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Is your head in the cloud yet?

I’m often amazed how technology has changed our lives. When I started my business back in the late 1990’s I used a fax machine almost every day, made regular trips to the bank to deposit & withdraw monies and when things started to build started to hire staff and bought all the necessary computers, networking and software that came with an office of 6 people. When the dot-com crash came I had to downsize dramatically – cut costs wherever I could. Thankfully I survived intact and things started to improve a year or so later.

The above experience taught me a valuable lesson. Only spend money when you have to. The web, and now “the cloud”, offer an amazing array of free and low-cost alternatives to traditional methods of procuring and using products & services. One such area is software. Data storage, secure backups, document management, website analytics, market research, email, diary, international online collaboration & publishing are just a few examples of items I use almost everyday without any charge – completely free.

Now of course I run a one-man band (with the occasional help from one or two close associates) and its easy for me to set myself up in such a way. But I’m convinced that many accounting firms out there aren’t taking advantage of the low-cost environment that the cloud can offer.

Putting aside the usual objections of risk and “what would my clients think?” the cloud can offer accounting firms tremendous cost and flexibility advantages. Do a little reading in the subject – you may just surprise yourself who out there is using the cloud to run at least part of their businesses. A recent study indicated that the sample survey reported around 80% of respondents use the cloud in some way to run their businesses (see http://www.virtela.net/press-room/industry-news/cloud-news/new-study-reveals-80-percent-of-companies-using-cloud-computing-applications-800623031)

In fact there has been an explosion of accounting software available for business and professional firms that is exclusively cloud based. At last count there are around 200 available in the world market today. Here are just a few: Xero, Zoho, Outright, Kashflow, Freshbooks, Ledgerble, Bill.com, OpenBooks, Wave Accounting, Pransform, myERP, AccountRight, Concur, 24SevenOffice, Financial Software Solutions, Liquid, Compleat, Kashoo, TRACT Billing, WorkForceTrack, Priority, Averiware, Acumatica, Tallyzip, Yendo, e-conomic, ERiS, Remotia, Intrix, Skyledger, Clear Books, RSA eBusiness, MyB2B, Pansys, Slingsot Software, iWebNotes, Deskera, Replicon, Ofipro, Chrome River, AppFolio, Bill4Time, Cleanbill liteBooks, Expensify, Texthog Receipt Bank,LiveStream, Captoom, Crunch, Fanurio, RSDataWeb, Point of Sale Software, Digital Invoicing, Centerpoint Fund Accounting, FreeAgent, SurePayrol, Less Accounting,AccountsPortal, Aqilla, Portfolio Genioius, TurningPoint, Twinfield Online, NECS entreeWebExpenses, Merchant Mirror, myTooq, AccountExact, Reporta, Pantonium …

In fact the local (i.e. Australia) favourite MYOB is about to launch their  “Accounts Live” platform in the cloud in the next couple of months.

Maybe its time you put your “head in the clouds” (sorry I couldn’t help myself) for a while and had a think about what this brave new world can offer!

All my best,

James E