Are you still doing complex financial accounting efficiently with Excel or old-fashioned desktop software?
You’re probably buried in stacks of paper, spending countless hours plugging in data and reconciling accounts. The thought of completing a complex financial report for stakeholders might fill you with dread.
You could be missing deadlines, adding errors, and stifling growth with manual, inefficient processes.
Cloud finance software can save you from that world of pain.
In this article, we reveal how software can be used to automate accounting processes, freeing up time for other tasks. And we talk about the steps required to get things up and running.
Here’s what we cover in this article:
- Still clinging to manual processes?
- Why cloud software can make life easier
- Cloud financial software helps you connect data, operations and people in real time
- Tips on choosing the right cloud finance software
- After implementing your cloud finance software…
- Final thoughts on cloud finance for business success
Still clinging to manual processes?
Even with the availability of cloud finance software, you may still be using manual spreadsheet-based systems because they are familiar, and you’re worried about the investment needed.
Perhaps, you don’t feel you can use cloud finance software effectively.
But if your business is growing and getting more complex, manual processes will probably be holding you back as you don’t have the real-time data and insight to drive your business effectively.
James Beattie, founder of WeTested, says many businesses still rely on manual processes and outdated legacy software, which can lead to financial mismanagement, delays in financial processing, and increase the risk of errors.
James says: “Legacy software can also be a hindrance, as it is often not designed to handle the complexity of modern financial operations.
“It can be difficult to integrate with other systems, leading to a lack of real-time data and insight. This can make it difficult for businesses to make informed decisions, leading to bad outcomes.”
Ian Rose, principal systems consultant at Sage, believes that while legacy tools are still usable, they may not necessarily be the best way to get to your core financial numbers.
Ian says, “Manual processes mean that you must typically input the correct information first, which is time-consuming and open to error.
“Another area that is a problem is approval processes. If done manually, there can be massive frustrations.”
Why cloud software can make life easier
Cloud finance software is accessible anywhere, at any time
You don’t have to worry about installing or maintaining software on your own server. Instead, everything is saved in the cloud.
In addition, since most cloud solutions offer multiple users access at once (with permissions), it’s easy for anyone in your business to access and view financial reporting without compromising security measures or privacy policies.
The software is updated regularly and reduces cost
Cloud systems are easier to upgrade because they don’t require data migration between servers. Instead, they can be upgraded by simply making changes in the cloud environment.
Since these programs automatically update themselves over time with new features and enhancements from their developers, there’s no need for IT specialists, which saves money.
Cloud computing is cheaper than traditional IT infrastructure because it requires less hardware, software licenses, and maintenance costs.
There are fewer maintenance costs associated with changing technologies over time, making life easier in ensuring everything works properly across different departments.
In addition, cloud providers often offer free trials or special offers, so you might not have to pay anything before trying out their services first-hand.
Scalability is on the cards
A scalable system help you take advantage of opportunities as they arise. If your business grows, it’s important to ensure your financial systems can keep up.
Cloud systems allow scalability in terms of size (adding users) and functionality (adding features). Your business will be able to grow rapidly without having to worry about how to accommodate growth or contraction through upgrades or downgrades.
Users will also have access to all the information they need at any given time.
Cloud financial software helps you connect data, operations and people in real time
Connect data and people
Cloud finance software helps you accelerate growth by connecting your financials, operations, and people in real time, creating a foundation of growth and agility.
Real-time access to accurate data is critical for decision-making.
Cloud finance software, accessible from anywhere in the world, is crucial when working with financial data across multiple locations and lets you make better, more informed decisions that increase revenue and profitability.
It allows you to have up-to-the-minute financial information at your fingertips. You’ll have a complete picture of your business performance, meaning you can make better decisions about where to allocate resources.
If one region has a high sales volume but low margins compared with others in your business (or even competitors), for example, cloud technology would allow you to easily identify this issue before it becomes an issue at other locations.
It’ll help you make smarter decisions about the future direction of your business, including where you should invest in growth opportunities or cut back on unnecessary costs such as rent payments on office space that is sitting empty most of the year.
Sarah Platt, founder and finance partner at Firehaus, says: “As a business owner, you have a lot of decisions to make, and this can overwhelm you. Having sound financial information at your fingertips can relieve much decision-making stress.
“You can go with a strong ‘gut feel’ if it’s backed up by financial data.
“Ideally, a combination of historical figures from management accounts and future-looking figures from forecasts and budgets is a sound way of confidently making decisions.
“The data may even challenge that ‘gut feel’ and prevent you from making a bad decision through lack of insight and analysis.”
Cloud technologies allow businesses to automate accounting or payroll processes by connecting them directly to existing systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP).
You don’t always need dedicated IT staff members on hand. Instead, you can allow access to employees trained in using the tools.
Tips on choosing the right cloud finance software
Oana Marele is the founder and managing director of Marele Accountancy. She has spent 20 years in senior finance roles across diverse and complex companies and is now a consultative finance director to companies across Europe.
Oana says to look for cloud finance software that’s straightforward, simple and user-friendly. The software’s features should cover all relevant aspects of business finance.
Oana adds: “As far as manual bookkeeping goes, from where I stand, there is no comparison to cloud finance software.
“A manual bookkeeping system is extremely unproductive, time-consuming and limited in its ability to support a business to operate and grow.”
Moving from paper or Excel-based accounting can be challenging, but it needs to be done if you want to be more efficient and able to cope with changing compliance and business demands.
Here are some suggestions from IDC on choosing the right cloud finance software.
Begin by looking inward
Take the opportunity to do some self-reflection. Here are a few key questions to ask internally.
- What are the issues we would like to resolve with our existing finance processes?
- Are the issues technology related?
- What internal support resources and capabilities do we have?
- How should we define success?
- Which internal stakeholders should we include in evaluating the cloud finance software?
- How will a new system change the business?
Select the right partners
The first step in your journey is developing a strategy and plan for choosing and putting in place your cloud finance software.
Here are a few key questions you might want to ask prospective cloud finance software partners:
- Do they have experience with my type of product, service, and company size?
- Can they show a hands-on demo with our real live data to show business benefits?
- Do they understand the regulations that will impact my business?
- How are these regulations reflected in its current product, and how will it change in the future?
- What is the partner’s strategic investment outlook for the next three to five years? Why? How will that change and enhance my business?
Take ownership of the process
For the best results, you must take a very active role in the actual implementation of the cloud finance software.
Cloud finance can touch upon your back-office systems, involving HR, supply chain, and inventory. Focus on how the cloud finance software is set up and how it interacts with other systems within your business.
Here are a few key questions to ask regarding your cloud finance software:
- What levels of support are available? Are they geographically available?
- How should I set up the service-level agreement before signing any contracts?
- Can the finance cloud software integrate with our other IT systems and those of my partners?
- Which IT system needs to be integrated and to what degree?
After implementing your cloud finance software…
Post-implementation is critical. In many ways, success hinges on what happens after the cloud finance software goes live.
Think about how your people will be impacted. Here are a few key questions to ask:
- How are we set up to deal with frequent product updates?
- Do we have a strategy to encourage rapid adoption?
- Do we have the right amount of training for employees to master the new features within the cloud finance system?
- Are you communicating the purpose and benefits of the cloud finance system with your finance team?
- Have we aligned existing policies and procedures to allow the adoption of new workflows?
Final thoughts on cloud finance for business success
Finance is a crucial part of any business, and with so much riding on accurate data and timely decisions, you must have the right tools.
The right cloud finance software will help you become more agile and flexible with workflows and processes while connecting people so you can make better real-time decisions.
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