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INSIGHT: Why Accountants Need to Adapt to Cloud Technology During COVID-19

June 10, 2020, 1:00 PM

The coronavirus is making businesses of all types change the way they operate due to social distancing. Inefficiencies in business operations may have been able to persist before, but now that the coronavirus has forced everyone inside, legacy processes have been exposed.

This is no different in accounting, where traditional accounting processes need to be improved in order to cope with the current pandemic.

With the present state of things forcing businesses to adapt or fall behind, there is a growing need to access accounting software anywhere at any time, which for most of us currently means at home. Here’s why every accountant should be making the transition to the cloud.

Why is this important?

For starters, moving accounting processes to the cloud allows you to easily save everything in an online database that can be accessed from anywhere, making it easy for teams to collaborate no matter where they are around the world.

Compare this with old-fashioned services, where you’re tied to your physical desktop with your software and data saved on a local hard drive. Cloud services allow you to download anywhere you want as long as you have an internet connection, allowing for easy access across all devices, including mobile.

Another benefit is the document storage and backup offered by cloud platforms. There’s no need for accounting teams to store years worth of documents in filing cabinets. In the cloud, accounting documents can be easily accessed and consistently backed up automatically and regularly.

It’s also easy for teams to collaborate together without needing to be in the same physical location. Legacy systems require constant email communication to have other members of the team work together in the account. But cloud services make collaboration easy as any member of the team can log in, regardless of location, and follow the required accounting workflow. The only people that can access the data are designated members of the team who have the right log-in information.

A final benefit is the fact that cloud services end up vastly reducing the amount of paperwork required for accounting functions. Paperless invoices can be easily captured, processed, and stored, reducing the cost of printing and vastly speeding up the payment process.

Making the transition to remote work

The entire world is transitioning to remote work largely in the cloud. However, it’s not always the easiest process to completely upturn your traditional processes. Here are some best practices for transitioning to remote work.

The first step is setting the foundation for remote work in your team. Update all the laptops or home computers to make sure everyone on your team is using the best operating systems with an ideal speed for working from home. It may sound obvious but make sure your internet connection is good enough – 2 MB simply isn’t going to cut it.

Next, you need to implement cloud-based accounting software, such as an AR or AP Automation platform, to make it easy for various members of the team to keep accounting processes running smoothly. This system will make it easy for members of your team to log in and input data at any time and place.

Security also needs to be taken into account when transitioning. While cloud-based systems have built-in security options, you can never be too safe. VPNs are another option to improve your security, as they make it difficult for hackers to get into your system. Making sure you have two-tier authentication enabled is another way to improve security on the cloud.

When switching to predominantly remote work, time management also becomes an issue. Again, there are plenty of different applications that can help you with this. Using these programs, you can set workforce requirements to make sure everyone is completing the task at hand. With the right applications in use, your team can be even more efficient working remotely than you would in the office.

Communication can be another challenge for accounting teams that are used to predominantly in-office interactions. If you usually use traditional means of communication in the office, make sure you download a communication tool to stay in contact with members of your team.

It’s also important that you make an effort to keep members of your team in the loop – you want to continue to promote a team-centric culture to keep your entire team engaged. To do so, it helps to have virtual events or coffee breaks to stay in touch with everyone on the team and mimic an office environment as much as possible. Keep everyone motivated: Make remote work a part of the team culture.

The coronavirus has exacerbated issues that were already trending in the accounting world. Now that companies are able to see that accounting on the cloud is much easier and more efficient, it will likely become a staple in the modern accounting department. Simply put: If accounting teams aren’t taking advantage of the cloud now, they’re likely to only fall further behind.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

Author Information

Catherine Dahl, CEO of Beanworks, an accounts payable automation software.