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Accountants discuss cloud accounting benefits

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19th Nov 2013
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Ease of use, good functionality and having new key features are listed as the main reasons accountants would change their accounting package, according to two practitioners.

In the third video conversation in the practitioner edition of our 21st century client-accountant relationship, Paul Scholes of Atria Associates and Claire Priestley of Clarand Accountants discussed the adoption of technology, including cloud accounting and social media.

Also joining the conversation was cloud accounting software firm Exact’s Jay Modhwadia, who added his insight from the firm and from his days as a practitioner.

Scholes has been using cloud accounting software in his practice for the last three years and will now not take a client on unless they use the technology, he said.

Ease of use and intuitiveness are key drivers in what software package he uses, as the last thing he and his clients want is to “spend ages trialling something”.

“My firm has been hosted for nearly three years now, the ability to dump all the hardware and lower IT support costs has been great - plus collaboration with clients makes it so much easier,” he said.

Some of Scholes’ clients do still use PC based software, but he said he did get one to change when an error by their bookkeeper on a PC based package that wouldn’t have been spotted long before year-end had they been using a cloud offering occurred.

For his firm to change or dual use new software, it would take a package with a completely new functionality or in a new area.

Priestley had a similar attitude, in that her firm likes flexible packages with good functionalities with which they can work around clients and tailor it to their needs.

“We use it in our practice and find it brilliant. A lot of our clients are moving towards using it,” she said.

But there are still clients who are resistant to change and Priestly added that bigger companies tend to be more apprehensive of going cloud due to the cost and other considerations.

According to Modhwadia, Exact research has shown that client recommendation has pushed cloud adoption, followed by lowering IT costs.

The accountants also discussed social media, which Scholes said was something that “could not be ignored”.

“I have two Twitter accounts but use it for information gathering, not marketing,” he said, which is dissimilar to how Priestley and her firm make use of the medium.

She estimates that around 20% of referrals to her firm are through their LinkedIn and Twitter channels and said that her young firm has “really embraced” social media.

For more on the discussion, visit our Exact video hub to watch the full video and join in with the conversation.

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Replies (5)

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By accountsdragon
21st Nov 2013 09:44

For those of us in rural areas where broadband speeds are an issue, having cloud software is daunting.  A few clients use Xero, but on bad days it can take ages to move around screens, and I'm glad to get back to my old fashioned desktop software.  

To make matters worse my broadband almost ground to a halt last week, and although it only took a week to resolve, that experience made me even more wary of the losing the ability to do any work if I were 'in the cloud'.

I love VT and I do hope that they are not forced to follow the trend.

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By markabacus
21st Nov 2013 13:13

Remote areas and The Cloud

We also operate from a village only 10 miles from Lincoln but b/band speed is not great 2mb on a good day. But the real challenge comes when it goes down, tethering thru your mobile is all well good but slow!

Twice in the last 18 mths we have been w/out b/band for more than 3 days, if we had been cloud based that would be 3+ days unable to work, disaster or what?

Whilst we are no huge fan of Sage, 25+ bookkeeping clients in client manager whilst not cheap is lot less than the cheapest annual cost of a cloud based system. Fine no doubt for those clients who do there own and hand it over.

 

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By raybackler
21st Nov 2013 13:47

Cloud user since 2004

We signed up with Liberty Accounts in 2004 and now use it for our client base of about 60.  We operate from a rural village, where broadband is not that fast.  Speeds are not an issue, because accounting systems only use the internet for text and numbers in the main.  High speeds are only necessary for other types of software that are graphics intensive.

As for reliability, we lost our broadband for a few days when someone stole the cable supplying the whole village and we have had outages here and there for an hour or so over the last 9 years.  Total uptime in excess of 99%.

Clients with desktop systems and more than one location have to set up VPNs, which also use broadband.

This week we have taken the plunge, after good recommendations on Accounting Web, and moved over to Taxfiler, as an excellent cloud offering for our tax software.  If only VT would get their accounts production software into the cloud, life would be complete!!

 

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By PK Group
18th Dec 2013 12:16

The Cloud will soon become a lot more prominent in accountancy firms, as they realize the benefits vs On Premise systems.

Having a PC or a server malfunction is no longer a major problem for users of the cloud, and we've found it extremely useful to have cloud backups. During this busy time of year, the last thing you need is a major hardware fault costing your company time and money.

Really looking forward to what innovations 2014 will bring us accountancy firms :)

PK Group

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By Hosted Accountants Ltd
06th Feb 2014 09:50

Remote areas and satellite broadband?

We had had a number of clients champion this recently. It seems the cost has now made it an affordable alternative to wired ADSL. Speeds of a solid 20meg (and 6 up) are available for £30 a month so not outrageous - http://sat.tooway.co.uk/

Probably useful to many just for regular SA filing irrespective of whether they are also using or considering a hosted desktop solution.

Dan

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