When it comes to talk of modernizing and digitizing business processes, one solution that will inevitably come up is the idea of moving day-to-day functions to the cloud. These technologies promise to offer a wide range of benefits to businesses, from reducing costs to making activities more efficient.
But when these plans concern key tools such as accounting software, there may be more resistance among finance teams who are accustomed to doing things the way they've always done it. Accurate accounting is a fundamental part of any business, and it may be natural that people are wary about any innovations that have the potential to cause disruption, especially if they don’t see any major issues with their current solutions.
While moving to cloud accounting shouldn’t be undertaken lightly, making such a migration need not be as complex or challenging as you may fear. In fact, with a bit of careful planning and a clear roadmap, you may find it a surprisingly smooth process.
Why you should consider cloud accounting
The first step in any migration to a cloud service - whether this is accounting or any other business-critical activity - is to ensure you have the buy-in of the employees who will be using it. And this means being able to demonstrate what the benefits of the new system are and how it will make life easier for users.
There are many reasons why cloud solutions are attractive for accounting software. A key feature for many users may be the greater accessibility this can provide. Being able to access the software from anywhere and share data easily among colleagues not only makes processes more efficient, but allows your finance team to be more flexible in when and where they work.
Other advantages of cloud accounting include faster updates. With a trusted software provider, you can be sure that any changes in legislation or filing practices are instantly applied and the software is always compliant.
Getting the right training
Once you've determined cloud accounting is the right solution for you, and have your team on board, the biggest task will be training your employees on how to use the software, which should focus on where any key differences lie compared with legacy tools, and how to make the most of the advanced features on offer.
This may seem like a daunting task for larger firms with more extensive finance departments, but by breaking it down into small sessions with a few employees working collaboratively, you can identify individual levels of knowledge and spot where any gaps lie.
Ensuring training takes place in a relaxed, informal environment can also encourage people to speak up with any questions they may have and boosts direct participation.
Adapting your company culture
Finally, it's important to consider your company culture when adopting cloud services, and how they’ll fit into it. For instance, if you're a mobile-focused, flexible company that promotes benefits like home working, make this a key part of the argument.
A collaborative culture that eschews a top-down approach can also help with a move to cloud accounting services. Get people from all levels of the business involved in the process - from identifying areas for improvement to running training sessions - to avoid the impression of a process being dictated solely by senior staff members.
Remember these key factors and you should be well on your way to a productive, cost-effective accounting solution that sets you up well for the years ahead:
- Make sure you commit - a half-in, half-out approach where some functions are left on-premise will not inspire confidence among employees, as well as resulting in a more fragmented, less streamlined solution.
- Be fully aware of the costs - cloud services may appear cheaper on paper, as they have no upfront costs, but be sure you're fully aware of what the ongoing expenses will be to avoid any nasty surprises.
- Have the right people - identify employees who can be advocates for the technology and give them a leading role in promoting it and troubleshooting any issues.
- Measure your success - nothing convinces naysayers like results, so identify a few KPIs you can use to measure the success of your cloud migration, such as improved efficiency or reduced errors, and highlight them as often as possible.