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Accountants still face client push back with cloud adoption

22nd Aug 2019
Arm Wrestling
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There is a cloud divide in accountancy between those going all-in with cloud tools and those with clients who “don’t know how to use a computer”. An AccountingWEB survey has found there are many who still need to be convinced of the benefits of the cloud. 

The research, conducted across AccountingWEB, was taken by 122 accountants – from sole practitioners to eight plus partner firms – ahead of a live Accounting Excellence Talks this week. In association with Xero, the session will analyse the current cloud landscape and find out how firms are going beyond the cloud.

Just 16% of responders considered themselves part of accountancy’s innovative vanguard through having 80% of more of their clients using only cloud tools. This cutting-edge number chimes with digital pioneer Will Farnell’s estimations that 75% of clients on cloud systems should be considered the benchmark.  

At the other end of the scale, 47% of AccountingWEB readers said that they had less than 20% of their clients only using cloud tools.

When asked about the cloud tools challenges which may explain this number, these accountants flagged recurring issues such as the internet access in rural areas, keeping up with the ever-changing ecosystem of apps, and for larger practices the issue of getting “full team buy-in” or all partners on board with the change.

What percentage of your clients are ONLY using cloud tools? 

Cloud survey accountingweb

Sample of 122 AccountingWEB users taken 13 Aug to 20 Aug 2019  

Whatever the technology hurdle, there was no challenge bigger than the client. The AccountingWEB readers illustrated the client pushback with examples of opposition such as having clients "who can’t use a computer", the slow client learning curve and persuading smaller clients of the benefits.

But as one responder remarked, gently hand-holding clients into cloud nirvana is not an impossible task: “Some old school clients have been hard to convince along the way, but (mostly) they love it now.”

It’s little wonder then that one of the main reasons behind the reader’s cloud uptake is the mandatory threat of Making Tax Digital. But surprisingly, it wasn’t the main reason.

MTD not the main reason for cloud adoption

When it comes to cloud adoption, Making Tax Digital has often been heralded as the biggest stick in getting firms to move across.

However, the research found that other reasons such as ease of use (63%) and remote access (64%) were actually bigger deal-makers for accountancy firms in getting cloud adoption across the line.

Primary reasons for adopting cloud tools

Cloud survey accountingweb

Sample of 122 AccountingWEB users taken 13 Aug to 20 Aug 2019  

That is not to dismiss the undeniable impact Making Tax Digital has had on cloud adoption: 55% identified the government’s digital plans as arm-wrestling them into the cloud. 

Price languished behind in terms of reasons for moving to the cloud, with just 26% of respondents indicating it had played a primary role. Many comments left on the survey made reference to the difficulties many firms were having pursuading clients why they should pay a monthly subscription when their previous Excel or desktop program was free.

Digital tools

Perhaps unsurprisingly, bookkeeping was the most-used cloud tool, with 85% of the survey responders using cloud bookkeeping systems.

Accounts production (57%) and tax filing (56%) followed on its heels as popular cloud tools, followed closely (and a little surprisingly) by practice management (46%).

What cloud tools do you use? 

Cloud survey accountingweb

Sample of 122 AccountingWEB users taken 13 Aug to 20 Aug 2019  

At the other end of the spectrum, debt collecting is still only used by hard-core cloud enthusiasts. At 16%, we can only assume that these users are from the digital practices that had 80% and more clients using only cloud tools.

So, while subsections of the responders see their biggest challenge as staying ahead of the curve and taking advantage of new opportunities – which would help those declining leads as competitor firms catch up – the survey shows that many are still locking horns with clients and getting unconvinced partners onboard.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself more into the world of cloud, find out techniques to increase client and partner buy-in, or to find out the benefits beyond the software, sign up to the Accounting Excellence ‘Beyond the Cloud’ webcast in association with Xero.  

Replies (6)

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By Farkhem Hall
22nd Aug 2019 10:54

Xero...why do something in 2 mouse clicks when you can now do it in 12 on the cloud? Anyone else feel the same?

Thanks (4)
Replying to saltimbamba:
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By NewACA
22nd Aug 2019 11:39

Coz they only get paid if you use their system to do the 12 clicks.

Not surprising who sponsors all this "research"...

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By johnjenkins
22nd Aug 2019 10:55

It's not a question of being convinced. It's more of a question of "high techies" and "low techies" which will increasingly get worse as more people start to distrust all these new gimmicks. Our data gets stolen with little or no chance of stopping it.

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By David Gordon FCCA
22nd Aug 2019 14:28

Still more hype.
In real life the "Cloud" is simply a bloody great storage disc replacing the use of your in-house server.
With the possibility of arranging multiple access between users of the Data.
That is it.
It is a most useful working tool. It is not the third coming of the Messiah to solve all your problems, as some would have us believe.
1)
The first rule of Computing still applies:
Garbage in = Garbage out.
2)
The second rule also still applies:
When installing a new system it should be possible to run the old alongside the new for a test period.

Purveyors, Disciples, and worshippers, of "The Cloud" increasingly ignore both the above iron-clad and proven rules.

The Great god Cloud is no more or less secure than the baggage handling system at Heathrow, or the ubiquitous HMRC systems, or Facebook accounts.

Apart from real security my other main objection is:
The system suppliers of accounting software have set up, whereby each client has to be individually registered. This means that the Software house will know more about the practice, and its clients, jointly and severally than the principal. All this without acknowledging any insurable risk against misuse of the Data.
Do any of the accounting services Cloud service providers have any kind of Professional Indemnity Cover? I really would wish to know this.

Thanks (3)
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By LostinSuspense
22nd Aug 2019 14:40

I worked in a business where the owner was obsessed with everything being in the Cloud (I suspect his head might have been there).

I agree that definitely for some reasons, this is a fantastic idea, you can log in and work from a remote location (if your job allows), businesses can be more flexible to meet demand and manage growth as you don't need to worry about sizing up a replacement infrastructure (well you do but...)

For accountants, it's great, if you file VAT returns or prepare year-end accounts, you can log in and access information easily, if clients have issues, again it's easy to do it from the safety of your office without the need for extensive travel time or days away from the office.

I have encountered some pretty dross softeware along the way. Clearly designed with multiple features in but clunky as heck to use.

At the end of the day, these services cost money and once everything is in the cloud, how long before the prices ramp up? We have to start watching adverts before entering data as it's a great revenue stream for the software company etc?

I agree that there are some tasks you can't do as easily in the cloud, and it is perfectly prudent that you take a backup of your data.

Cloud is good, but when it rains, make sure you have a bucket to collect the water.

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By In a Daze
02nd Sep 2019 21:17

I prefer my clients to use the cloud but it is not the be all and end all.

As mentioned this mythical cloud is nothing more than a huge server.

If my clients want to use desktop i simply point them towards VT Cashbook or Transaction Plus.

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