Why cloud accounting should be part of your ongoing continuity plan
COVID-19 has thrown business continuity plans into the spotlight and, in many cases, has revealed glaring holes in them.
As lockdown eases and recovery plans slowly start to kick-in, we will soon find ourselves in the ‘lessons learned’ phase, looking back at the way our businesses reacted to the pandemic. As a result, it is likely that more of us will adopt an ongoing continuity plan to help make our operations more agile.
For finance teams across the country, I would certainly expect that cloud accounting will play a pivotal role in those plans, helping to protect businesses and spot key touch points to boost the numbers during ongoing challenging trading conditions.
Time for a change
“Why have we been working like this?” – probably a question that has been asked amongst most management teams that have had to implement remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. If there has been one thing the past few months have done, it has been to help us all see why some of the ways we have been working for years are fundamentally flawed.
Arguably we have seen more innovation in UK businesses since March than we have in the past decade. Take the hospitality sector as an example, where many restaurants and bars managed to switch to takeaway services, new products and offerings practically overnight. Other sectors looked on, realising that change is both possible and needed, even in the most challenging of times.
Operational decisions regarding systems upgrades and investment in new software that may have been sat-on for months pre-COVID, are being put off no more. We suddenly all realise why planning for the future has never been so important.
Hardly surprising then, that Q1 saw a surge in spending on cloud-based solutions, with total spend reaching $29bn, which, according to Synergy Research Group, is an increase of 37 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
Cloud accounting takes centre stage
Although an exact breakdown of figures is not available, it is highly likely that cloud accounting solutions will be a big contributor to that overall spend.
I am quite sure that any finance teams continuing to work with more traditional accounting software over the past few months will certainly back this point, particularly those that have carried on issuing invoices, chasing client debts and have even had to cope with a remote year-end.
So, why has the pandemic highlighted the importance of cloud accounting and why do I believe it will play such an important part in business continuity plans going forwards? The answer to both questions can be provided in three main points:
Cloud accounting has a positive impact on your people
A business thrives because of three main things – its people, its processes and its tools, and cloud accounting ticks all three boxes. In particular, lockdown and remote working has served to highlight the impact of our software choices on our people.
We have probably all heard of finance peers struggling to work properly from home because of painstakingly slow server connections and even having to make frequent trips into the office to get invoices set up.
There has also been the issue of not being able to work on files at the same time or share the most recent information quickly and efficiently as many teams have not been able to work in the same office.
Cloud accounting has the ability to solve all of these issues. Now, more than ever, companies need people to be able to manage their workloads and to feel engaged, productive and efficient.
It increases day-to-day operational efficiency
By its very nature, a centralised finance function is designed to eradicate errors, decrease repetition and reduce low-value work.
The automation of tasks such as generating invoices and reminders so you don’t have to manually keep track of debtors, can free up a significant amount of time.
The real-time nature of cloud accounting solutions means that the balance sheet of the business can be viewed in real time and it’s much easier to provide an accurate snapshot of company finances – something we have all had an even more critical eye on over the past few months.
It enables your finance team to inform and evaluate
Greater operational efficiency means finance teams can be freed up from day-to-day, often monotonous tasks, allowing them to focus more on work that will add value to the business.
Finance professionals have so much to offer in terms of informing, evaluating and aligning organisational strategies, as well as giving up to date insight into business performance.
Their input has never been more valuable as we move through this recovery. We just need to give them the time to provide it.
It may be an understatement to say that the last few months have been unpredictable and the same may be said about the months ahead. However, forward planning is going to be crucial, and central to that, is making sure that you have the tools in place to ensure your processes are smooth and efficient, your people thrive and your business flourishes once more.