There’s no way around it: cloud document management software makes accounting professionals’ lives much easier. And, whether it pertains to marriage, friendship, or the accountant-client relationship, responsiveness is not only one of the biggest determinants of relationship success—it arguably comprises the largest portion of the communication core competency outlined by the CPA Center of Excellence—a competency that many CPAs lacked in 2015.
However, this poor communication has nothing to do with accounting professionals’ communication ability, nor does it have anything to do with their clients’ communication skills. Rather, it’s the result of a technologically-imposed chasm—one that can and should be bridged through cloud document management software for accountants, and here’s why:
Why Accountants Need Cloud Document Management Software
Your Clients Demand Document Responsiveness
The role of the accounting professional has evolved dramatically within the past several years, in large part due to clients’ shifting expectations. In fact, one of the biggest complaints CPAs get from their clients is the fact that CPAs aren’t available as frequently as they should be.
The average person’s worries were appeased by talking to his or her accountant once per year, but as accountants take on an increasing number of moonlighting opportunities in the insurance and financial advisory industries, they are expected by their clients to be trusted advisers in all things pertaining to money. The result? More time is needed to meet these client demands, and as you know, accessibility to others decreases as the boxes in your calendar brim with too much ink.
One of the ways to mitigate client-imposed busyness is by increasing your professional mobility, and this can be achieved through cloud document management software. On-premises document management software (DMS) is great, but it doesn’t afford the same accessibility that the trend outlined above requires—DMS mobile apps (via cloud-based software) provide the information accessibility enabling the degree of responsiveness clients demand. This, among many other reasons, is why the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) advocates a greater shift toward cloud-based technology in the accounting industry.
Accessibility and Security Are No Longer Mutually Exclusive through the Cloud
Not only are cloud-based document management software options generally more cost-efficient than their on-premises counterparts, they enable the mobility clients desire in their CPAs. Although on-premises document management software imparts a tangible, secure feeling to its users, they oftentimes require a greater overhauling of preexisting IT infrastructure, and offer fewer means of achieving mobility—mobility being an increasingly important aspect of accountants’ lifestyle.
However, this mobility and accessibility doesn’t detract from the security of cloud document management software. Cloud document management software keeps sensitive information accessible, yet secure via mediums such as mobile devices and Mac computers.
For some time, there’s been a relatively unwarranted fear of the cloud brewing in the accounting industry—one which harbors reservations about the prospect of paying a third party to store CPAs’ sensitive client information on their own servers.
However, as that third party, cloud document management software vendors make their names by securing that information, and therefore take its handling very seriously. What’s more, the dangers of email-imposed data breaches are circumvented by these cloud solutions’ client sharing portals, which offer bank-grade encryption for content and files in transit: A huge accountant-to-client selling point for online DMS products, especially given the number of data breaches that have already occurred in 2016.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some benefits to on-premises DMS, but these benefits aren’t as native to the accounting industry as they are to other industries. For instance, the cloud brings the storage space, enhanced security, and hyper-collaborative features of an on-premises solution for fewer dollars and less overhauling of existing IT processes.
The Cloud Lessens the Burden of Unpredictable Hours
As a major pain point for many accounting professionals, unpredictable hours come with the territory of the CPA’s ever-expanding role. However, the burden of these unpredictable hours is, again, lessened by the efficiency and mobility that cloud-based DMS offers.
The more hours a CPA works, the more billable hour potential he or she has, and the more accessible the resources needed to complete the CPA role, the more freedom there is to earn these billable hours.
Essentially, the burden of unpredictable hours isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the unpredictability of these hours is likely to increase, but working in accordance with the phenomenon through the right technology will produce far better outcomes than resisting or choosing to go against the grain of the phenomenon—the prior of these two mindsets likely to increase accountants’ income to a degree that makes the additional hassle worthwhile.
In tandem with mobile document management solutions, mac-compatible cloud-based document management provides the freedom to work with the convenience and comfort of anyplace there’s an internet connection—further mitigating the negative impact unpredictable hours can have on accounting professionals’ work-life balance.
The Cloud Requires No Tech Expertise
Many in the industry have developed an aversion to the cloud given its newly minted role in the space of the enterprise, including the misperception that it requires more ‘IT savvy’ to utilize than traditional, on-premises software. However, the cloud actually requires less IT savvy to use than on-premises document management software, because any issues arising with the software will be handled by the third party hosting storage, collaboration, and other features in the cloud. All users will need to do in response to an issue is to report it to their cloud providers, and it will be promptly fixed.
The Cloud Means Reduced Operating Costs
As an accountant, you’re an expert at improving the bottom line for other people, but the cloud is one of the first steps you can take to producing a great bottom line result for your practice, firm, or department. When it comes to managing documents and content, cloud-based DMS packs a much needed one-two punch in functionality and cost efficiency in the accounting industry. What’s more, accounting software of this variety transcends the desktop compatibility issues sometimes used by firms or accounting departments using niche operating systems (other than Windows) on their work devices.
Although many accounting professionals already use on-premises versions of document management software and similar technology for accounting, many of the vendors of these on-premises document management products sell on-premises to cloud-based converting tools, making the switch to the cloud much easier than a normal data migration procedure, which also gives leeway to sidestep some of the IT growing pains often attributed to on-premises DMS.
Just as the accounting profession will remain relevant, the trend toward cloud-based document management will, too. In fact, as early as March of last year, the Journal of Accountancy were reporting that accounting professionals were slowly migrating to cloud-based technologies. However, the migration isn’t complete, and the benefits of fully integrating cloud technologies into the accounting landscape remain as promising as they are untapped.