Putting your business online is no longer about having a website or posting coupons on Facebook. Today it’s about automation and access. Great online tools are automating every aspect of business, from HR to operations. There is so much out there, in fact, that knowing where to start can be the biggest problem.
The obvious choice is to start with cloud accounting. Why? Not only is accounting an area where web apps can immediately improve business results like cash flow, but cloud accounting also makes a natural foundation onto which all other business tools can be built.
Here are the 7 Rules of Success for moving accounting – and more – into the cloud:
1. Commit Fully
Accounting systems are multifaceted and can handle more than just the paying bills, so be prepared to go all-in. You can quickly move your time-keeping, payroll, merchant services, and banking into one cohesive package. The more data you stuff into an online accounting package, the more useful it will be, and the less time you’ll spend doing duplicate data entry.
2. Dump the Desktop and Decentralize Data
Moving finance to the cloud also means you can get rid of the servers and desktop software, allowing access to your accounting from any PC, tablet, or smartphone.
Making data mobile empowers employees to enter time sheets, sales transactions, purchase orders, inventory adjustments, and other data – right from the field or storefront. This creates an organized, paperless system, and greatly reduces mistakes by pushing the data-entry tasks down to the people who actually generate the data.
3. Know the REAL Cost
Online software is generally sold as a subscription, but don’t let the price tag scare you. In the long run, online software is ALWAYS less expensive than desktop software.
QuickBooks is a great example: It’s no wonder that nearly 20 percent of all QuickBooks users are now using QuickBooks Online instead of the desktop. Larger companies are finding incredible value in hosted QuickBooks Premier from companies like Personable and even hosted QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions from Intuit itself.
Small companies save thousands by moving their software off local servers and into the cloud. Larger firms save even more by reducing IT support staff – even while increasing functionality and reliability.
4. Hire Different
Technology will continue to evolve and change, so commit to keeping pace. Hire people who embrace the Internet and online tools; who can help you find the next great application that will move your business forward. Even if you love to hate Facebook and have never used YouTube, set aside your personal preferences and build a team that can continue to embrace the web at work.
5. Connect Everything
Cloud accounting software is built to be one piece in a larger ecosystem of applications. The best software will integrate with HR systems, payroll, inventory control systems, merchant services, banking, CRM, and workflow applications. Pick accounting software that has broad “hooks” that connect to other online applications.
Accounting apps like QuickBooks Online still sync with accounts at most banks, plus amazing new cash flow management tools like Bill.com, and even CRM software like Highrise, or SalesForce. The first time you log in to Bill.com, and see a graph of your cash flow update in real time, you’ll know why you came to the cloud. Then, when your outsourced CFO can update your chart of accounts, the sales team can find a customer address from their phone, and the marketing department can measure distribution volume across the globe, you’ll be on your way to a fully connected workforce.
6. Measure Your Success
The technology may be new, but the methodology is the same. Evaluate your current processes and measure improvement as you implement new systems. Track your cash flow metrics, your time to process an order, your customer satisfaction, and how long a sales rep spends in the field. Keep experimenting, training, and improving. When improvement slows down, so should your roll-out. People and systems need time to catch up — measure your success as people adopt to the technology and be prepared to move slowly when needed.
7. Don’t Go Backwards
Like all changes, the road to automation and online apps is going to be bumpy. Don’t let initial jitters scare you back to your paper and pencil past. Burn the boats and move forward.
If the cloud has not already hooked you, get a quick and easy start by moving your accounting online. Accounting software has natural hooks into every other business process, so putting it into the cloud enables both cost savings and new benefits that you may never have imagined. Find a solution that works for the accountants and you’ll be on track to automating much more of the business than you ever thought possible.
Dedicated to your (cloud) profits, David Worrell