As a small business owner, do you feel that time is never on your side? As you focus on growing revenues and servicing customers, there is little time left to keep your books and paperwork up to date. Don’t panic! Technology is here to save the day!
Cloud accounting relies on software and applications stored “in the cloud” and accessible on any device with internet access. So the first thing you might be thinking is “how secure is my data?” Well consider this, do you do banking online? Do you make purchases from online retailers? If so, than you are already willing to accept that those service providers are taking your data security seriously. Well so are the providers of cloud accounting packages. Current players in the cloud accounting market in North America are QBO (www.quickbooks.intuit.ca) and XERO (www.xero.com). These companies understand that security will be your biggest concern.
So let’s get down to the important stuff…
How can cloud accounting benefit you and your business? Here are just some of the benefits:
- You have access to your company’s financial information any time, in real time. As access to cloud accounting is virtual, you can log on wherever you have Wi-Fi, whether that is on a job site or at a coffee shop between jobs. Having up-to-date information allows you to make informed decisions.
- No more time wasted downloading updates and making back-ups. The service provider takes care of all maintenance and updates on their end of the system leaving you with no down time and the ability to focus on growing your business. With your data stored in the cloud, the service provider is also housing back-ups. This ultimately means lower IT-related costs for your business.
- Access is multi-user. This means you and your team can all access the information needed to help the business run smoothly.
But the most important benefit of cloud accounting is the efficiency and ease of use. For example, one huge time saver is the ability to set up automatic downloads from your bank account or credit card. This means that after a bit of initial set-up, all your bank and credit card transactions are automatically recorded in your company’s books, so say “goodbye” to data entry.
Cloud accounting providers are also working with third-party app developers to create creative solutions to bookkeeping bottlenecks. Currently, there are over 150 QBO and XERO compatible apps with more being added daily. These apps add efficiency to your processes and link right to the cloud accounting package to further reduce data entry.
The following are apps we would recommend for construction companies:
- Receipt Bank and Hubdoc are apps that allow you to simply take a photo of a receipt with your smart phone and have it automatically imported into your company’s books. The apps extract the taxes, code the expense by type and record the entry directing into your books.
- TSheets takes the manual process out of time sheets. This app removes the need for illegible paper time sheets by being a mobile time tracker. The app also has job costing and invoicing features and is compatible with QBO.
- Jobber brings staff scheduling, quoting, invoicing and payments together electronically. Like TSheets, this app helps mobilize processes that were very manual in the past and even allows staff to upload photos of the progress on a job.
- Corecon is an app designed to help those in the construction industry work collaboratively, regardless of each employees’ location, by offering modules for estimating, project management, job cost control and scheduling.
- Buildtrend offers tools relevant to home builders and home renovators with modules for pre-sale, project management and customer management, and financial tools.
So picture this…
You visit a potential client to provide a quote. Using your smart phone or tablet, you access your pricing and create a computerized quote to present to the customer. If the customer accepts on the spot, you can have him use his finger to sign and show his approval right on your tablet. Once you complete the job, you can convert that accepted quote into an invoice with a few finger touches on your smart phone or tablet and email it to the customer before you even pull out of their parking lot. By invoicing right away, rather than when you get around to it in a few days or a month, you will speed up your collections and therefore help your cash flow. This is just one simple example of how cloud accounting can make your life easier and your business run smoother.
Cloud accounting brings efficiency to the mundane tasks, such as data entry, that small business owners dread. The time saved through these efficiencies can then be spent building your business and being strategic.
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