CPA.com Blog

Cloud Accounting Enables Firm to Continue Operations Despite Devastating Hurricanes in Florida

When you look at the advantages of cloud-based accounting solutions over traditional on-premise software, you might not consider Mother Nature as a key factor in the decision-making process. However, the recent experience of Harrod CPA, an accounting firm that was able to continue operations despite devastating hurricanes in Florida serves as confirmation of the unique benefits of adopting cloud-based solutions in your firm.

Not long ago, "…when there were three major hurricanes that devastated the central Florida area, Harrod's staff had to evacuate the state for several days. Fortunately, since Intacct's cloud accounting applications are accessible over the Internet, the firm could continue to operate and serve its clients without major disruption."

"We definitely had a competitive advantage due to the Intacct system," noted Harrod. "We reassured our clients, some of whom are scattered throughout the state of Florida, that their data was safe and secure at the IBM data center in California used by Intacct. Even though they were without power for days and their businesses sustained damage, we could continue to provide our service and the clients' financial systems never went down. Other clients not on Intacct were not so fortunate. Since then, many of these clients have migrated to Intacct due to these concerns and the need to mitigate future risk associated with hurricanes in the state."

You can read the recent press release and access the case study posted by Intacct on how the Move to Cloud Accounting With Intacct Helped Harrod CPA Improve Service and Increase Client Success.

If you have recently begun using cloud-based solutions, like Intacct or Bill.com, or are considering the move to the cloud, please share your experiences here, including the challenges of using traditional on-premise accounting software and the unique benefits your firm experienced with cloud-based solutions.

CPA.com

Welcome to the Transforming Client Accounting Blog

A Special Message from Erik Asgeirsson, President and Chief Executive Officer, CPA2Biz, Inc.

The world of client accounting is changing. New cloud-based technologies are transforming the way CPAs will work and interact with their clients for years to come. These new technologies are increasing the productivity and profitability for many firms. The AICPA Trusted Business AdvisorSM Solutions featured on this web site, including Bill.com, Intacct, and Paychex, are designed to help the CPA community harness the power of these new technologies.

We are excited to announce the launch of CPA2Biz's all-new web site and blog dedicated to new advances in client accounting for the CPA community. Now, on a single web site, you will have access to the latest information on cloud-based technologies, tools, and business programs that will transform the way you do business with clients.

We'll be posting timely articles to this blog that you'll find useful in your day-to-day and long-range business operations. Of course, we want to hear what you think. Please don't hesitate to comment on our posts, ask questions, and share your thoughts and experiences using the new technologies featured on this site, including:

  • Intacct: On-demand financial management and accounting tools
  • Bill.com: Paperless bill management solutions
  • Paychex: Payroll processing, HR, and 401(k) retirement services
  • Trusted Business Advisor training and workshops
  • Marketing solutions for CPA firms to help you attract and win new business
  • And much more.

Over the last year, we have noticed a dramatic change in the rate that accounting firms are adopting these web- or cloud-based technologies. We believe it is extremely important for all firms to understand the positive impact of these changes. In particular, these new web-based tools will improve the standard and quality of services you can provide to your clients, while helping your firm increase productivity and profitability. One result of these new advances in client accounting is that firms, like yours, are in a better position to provide higher level (and more profitable) services to your clients, from budget planning and cash flow analysis to virtual CFO and business advisory services. We want to know what you think. So please share your thoughts here.

From time to time, we also hope to have thought leaders and other experts as guest bloggers. This will be your opportunity to read what these experts are thinking first-hand, as well as to comment on their posts and ask them questions.

Once again, welcome to our new web site and blog dedicated to your client accounting practice. We look forward to seeing you online.

Sincerely,
Erik Asgeirsson
President and Chief Executive Officer, CPA2Biz, Inc.

CPA.com

Are you offering outsourced CFO services to your clients? Maybe you should…

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal entitled "For Rent: Chief Financial Officer. Firms Outsource a Top Job as Cheaper Than Hiring Their Own Executive" reports how more and more small businesses are leveraging outsourced CFO services – especially during this difficult economic period. One of the key benefits of a cloud-based solution like Intacct Accountant Edition is that it makes it possible for accounting firms and their staff to provide higher value services to clients, such as outsourced or virtual CFO services.

According to the article, "Some small-business owners in need of accounting help to balance their books and guide them out of a financial black hole are renting CFOs rather than hiring them. The strategy comes at a time when the deep recession has forced small companies to look for money-saving alternatives that can yield good returns yet avoid substantial overhead costs."

These CFOs often have a bigger role than simply keeping track of the company's books. The article goes on to state, "They work with business owners to manage their accounting and finance departments, connect them with business sources that can help them grow and provide financial data to help make strategic long-term or day-to-day decisions."

The WSJ article serves as a good introduction to the changing landscape of client accounting services and how you can shift your firm's focus to more profitable services, while increasing the overall efficiency and profitability of the services you already offer. Read the full article for some quick insights into the benefits and advantages of outsourced or virtual CFO services. You can find the SaaS solutions you need, such as Bill.com and Intacct, right on this web site that can help you get started down this lucrative new path to increased revenue and profits.

Is your accounting firm currently offering outsourced CFO services to your clients? Have SaaS or cloud-based solutions played a part in your ability to offer these enhanced business and financial services to your clients? Please share your thoughts and experiences here.

CPA.com

SaaS vs. Cloud – What’s the difference?

If you've been keeping up with the latest advances in online or web-based technologies, you have probably heard about SaaS (Software as a Service) and Cloud Computing. What's the difference? Or, rather, is there a difference?

Conceptually, you will find definitions for these two terms vary from web site to web site. One expert says one thing, another expert says another. To add to the confusion, you'll discover there is often a lot of overlap in these definitions. For the purposes of this web site, you can consider "cloud" just another word for the Web. The Internet and the Web are up there in the clouds, so to speak. Hence, "Cloud Computing." All of which means if you are using an online, web-based service or financial program, you're effectively using a cloud-based service.

So where does SaaS fit in? Any software company that offers their business and/or financial programs or services on demand through the Web can be considered Software as a Service. Contrast SaaS with traditional packaged desktop software products such as PowerPoint, Quickbooks, Excel or Word. In the old software model, you purchased a product and installed it on your computer. Of course, with on-site desktop software came the ongoing headache and hassle of installing and maintaining the product, getting updates, fixing bugs, purchasing upgrades, etc. In many cases, your firm might have to dedicate an IT or tech person to provide endless tech support for your on-site software. In addition, if you have 10, 20, 30 or more users in your firm, you would have to purchase a software license for each user or desktop. The costs can grow quickly!

SaaS or cloud-based services can eliminate or significantly reduce all of those problems for your firm and your clients. What's more, the program you access through the Web is always up to date because the provider can install updates on their own servers as often as needed. The SaaS provider takes care of security, software updates, etc. All you need is an Internet connection to start using a SaaS (or cloud-based) program.

Another thing to keep in mind with cloud or SaaS programs is that you don't own the software, you simply pay for the right to use it online for a given period of time. (Think "buy" versus "rent" as an analogy.) Cloud and SaaS solutions can be provided on a subscription or pay as you go service. They are usually scalable as well, which simply means as your business needs grow, the SaaS program can grow with your needs, too. It's all up to you, the provider of the service, and the contract you agree to.

How do you define SaaS and cloud-based programs? Do you disagree with the definitions described here? No matter how you define these terms, the key point to take away is that SaaS (or cloud computing) is transforming the way we interact and do business with our clients. And, ultimately, that's what truly matters most.

CPA.com

An online banking service tailored to the needs of accountants and bookkeepers? Yes!

Online banking has been around for years, mostly designed for the needs of consumers and small businesses. In fact, many major banks have offered bill payment services and other basic banking services long before there was an Internet. Do you remember Pronto or Bill Pay USA? Online banking has come a long way since then, especially as a powerful tool for accountants and bookkeepers to use to service their clients.

An excellent article on Inc.com “Should Your Company Switch to Online Banking?” takes a fresh new look at online banking and why it just may be time for your firm to take another look at this convenient, time-saving service.

“As a small business owner, every day the office manager would bring me a stack of checks to sign,” says René Lacerte, founder and CEO of Bill.com. “Inevitably, I would have questions: Had the engineer approved this expense? When was the last time I paid this vendor — it seemed like I'd paid them just recently? Could I have more documentation about this invoice?” If that sounds like something you or your clients have experienced, take a few minutes now to read the full article.

Go to http://www.inc.com/news/articles/2009/08/banking.html

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