As a centuries-old profession, one of the world’s most venerable, accounting has undergone numerous transformations, from using tokens on clay scripts, to doing manual calculations in paper legers, to automating tasks with desktop software, and much more in between. Today, just as all aspects of people’s lives and professions have become more digitized, accounting has stepped into a new age: the age of “the cloud.”
What exactly is the cloud? Unlike conventional desktop software, which provides access to data exclusively on the user’s own machine, on the cloud is a remote server to which multiple machines can be given access. The data on it, then, is safely stored, managed and processed online, or “in the cloud.” This allows for numerous benefits, such as real-time reporting, 24/7 access to information, and improved accuracy.
For many small- and medium-sized businesses, moving to cloud-based accounting is a no-brainer: they recognize it’s a must-have to improve and grow their businesses—and not only because, as I’ve written before, they likely didn’t go into business out of a love of bookkeeping. But some business owners remain hesitant to make the switch from old-school, paper-based accounting to the seemingly nebulous cloud.
Take the example of a business owner my team and I were introduced to last year. This incredibly smart entrepreneur is in a traditional “handshake” business related to the food sector. At the time of our meeting, his bookkeeping was very organized but completely manual: think paper receipts, spreadsheets, and paying bills with cheques. The owner did not consider himself to be tech savvy, but as his business had suddenly grown threefold, he knew it was time to modernize his accounting and bookkeeping, provided he could do that in a way that still allowed him to keep a close eye on things.
After a few discussions with our team, he signed on to our cloud-based accounting solution, KPMG Finance Plus, which has the ability to reconcile books securely in the cloud, manage budgets, track expenses, manage payroll, monitor and comply with tax obligations, and more—including allowing the owners of businesses and franchises with multiple locations to view and benchmark across those locations, empowering them with information to make complex decisions more easily and improve overall business performance.
How did this owner go from cloud-hesitant to cloud-ready? To start, he was keen on having the ability to automate and streamline documents and data as the business grows. But it was particularly reassuring for him to know you don’t have to be a tech wizard to use the platform. As we told him at the time: “We don’t have to bog you down with the details of how we’re getting the bookkeeping done—we can just get it done. That gives you the freedom to focus on the growth of your business.”
Still other business owners are hesitant to move to the cloud because they don’t want to lose the special care and attention that only a person can provide. That was the case with another one of our clients, the CEO of a digital service provider. Although the company is known for its leading-edge technology solutions, it was doing bookkeeping the traditional way: with a bookkeeper using a desktop software solution. But the bookkeeper was set to retire and the CEO needed advice on what to do.
Although he liked having a bookkeeper (a person he knew and trusted), the CEO understood the benefits of cloud-based accounting. In particular, he wanted to be able to look at financials and results himself—anywhere, anytime—without having to wait to get the information by email or phone. With Finance Plus, he can do precisely that, without losing the benefits of a real-life professional. That’s because Finance Plus clients are assigned a dedicated KPMG accountant who manages the business’s daily transactions and provides personalized support and insights. It’s the literal Plus in Finance Plus.
As with many other facets of our digital lives, it’s all about finding the right balance between technology and people. After all, people are the market, and therefore they are business. Cloud-based accounting solutions save owners time and make their lives easier through features like automation and real-time reporting. But for something as crucial as a company’s financials, human beings—with their bookkeeping smarts, responsiveness and attentiveness—are irreplaceable. With Finance Plus, it’s possible to have the best of both worlds.
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