February 27, 2024

Accounting Firms are Benefiting from Eliminating Onsite Servers

In a recent blog post, we delved into the cost-saving benefits of cloud accounting. Building on those concepts, this article aims to shed light on the larger trend of CPA firms bidding farewell to traditional onsite servers in favor of cloud-based solutions for a multitude of reasons. But first, let’s clarify exactly what we’re talking about. 

Have you heard the term cloud accounting software? You’ve likely heard it from software providers or those advising small businesses. But what is a “cloud solution,” and is it the right accounting process for your workplace? Many firms today see the benefits of moving to the cloud rather than staying "local". Let’s look at cloud accounting, what it is, how it works, and how it can benefit your business. 

Cloud Accounting - What Is It?

Cloud accounting hosts your accounting software on a secure remote server. Teams can store and access documents and software anywhere there's an internet connection. In contrast, local accounting involves storing financial details locally, accessed through an app installed on a computer or office server.

The cloud provides a system allowing multi-user access to safe online or remote server storage. Cloud technology allows a firm's accounting processes to be consolidated and tailored to their company's particular operations. Employees send all data to the cloud provider, where that data is processed and stored, able to be accessed at any time.

How It Works

Cloud-based accounting streamlines accounting processes using secure web-based software. Teams can access all key data from their own locations, allowing for remote or hybrid work while making collaborative work and reporting tasks easier.

With cloud accounting, a firm does not necessarily have to set up individual laptops or desktops with a desired software stack. Because everyone in the company can access those applications on their own devices, users can access them via the internet or other networks from the Managed Service Provider (MSP).

Remote teams or branches can access the same key data and documentation, from finances to accounts receivable. CPA firms, like any organization, benefit by having everyone on the same page.

Cloud accounting also offers data security through backups and redundancy. If there’s a fire, act of God, or even a breach by a malicious actor on a company computer, data remains “cloud secure.” 

Benefits of Cloud Accounting Over Traditional Accounting With On-Site Servers

Eliminating On-Site Servers

Cloud accounting offers clear advantages over traditional on-site server setups. By leveraging cloud-based API services like Cetrom Connect, organizations can seamlessly facilitate inter-network communication without relying on on-site servers. Through a centralized virtual desktop, various network components such as printers, directory services, and Microsoft 365 can efficiently connect, all hosted in the cloud.

In contrast to on-site server configurations, cloud-based solutions like those managed by MSPs, have professional off-site management. This shift eliminates the need for firms to maintain physical servers, resulting in cost savings and freeing up IT teams to focus on broader tasks beyond server maintenance, ultimately enhancing overall efficiency and productivity.

Ensuring Compliance

As PTINs and, more broadly, organizations that handle a large amount of secure financial data on customers' behalf, CPA firms are subject to a number of regulations. The recent passage of the FTC Safeguards Rule means that many firms could face costly penalties for not meeting data security standards. This is just one of a multitude of rules from the IRS and policies enacted under GLBA legislation that make compliance of the utmost importance. 

Fortunately, cloud accounting systems like Cetrom Connect are built for compliance. Cetrom Connect meets and exceeds these data security standards, from multi-factor authentication (MFA) to centralized workstation management, so firms don't have to stress about continually ensuring their existing server and network configuration is compliant.

By meeting high standards of data security, cloud-based managed systems can also increase an accounting firm's chances of having access to preferential cyber insurance policies with lower premiums. This further enhances their cybersecurity profile by hedging against the great financial risks associated with security breaches. 

Access Anytime & Anywhere

Cloud accounting collaboration is made easier by convenient multi-user access. As mentioned, a major difference between cloud accounting and local accounting is that since the cloud is remotely hosted, a team can access its files from anywhere, overcoming the obligation to work exclusively in the office while collaborating in real-time across locations.

Automation Capabilities

Automated workflows across devices and systems on the cloud increase efficiency on a large scale. For example, a team member can enter a client's information and configure a workflow that automatically pays them on the same date every month. A firm can also automate sending out their invoices to recurring customers.

Automating updates can increase system-wide security, allowing the latest patches to be applied to software and hardware easily and consistently. This also reduces the need to worry about wasting time with updating some cloud-hosted software because the MSP can keep applications patched for you.

Streamlined Collaboration

A network built upon a cloud accounting infrastructure makes it easier for accountants and staff to collaborate. For example, the cloud makes it easier to generate reports that a team might need from you. You can also allow the team to access your updated numbers anytime they need to.

Because the applications are hosted online, you control how much access to financial information an employee may have. Someone working on processing payroll can be granted access to payroll without being able to access secure accounts or information.

Better Organization

For any firm keeping busy, paperwork can add up and become a challenge. Filing through invoices and receipts is often an arduous process.

With cloud accounting, you can immediately import data into the cloud. Moving this data into cloud-hosted software will give you an easier real-time view without flipping through individual documents (or worse, papers). This more efficient accounting data management method will help employees minimize the risk of manual errors or losing data along the way.

Reduce Errors and Increase Accuracy in Reporting

Unified reporting is a great advantage of cloud accounting. You don’t need to learn as many special tricks or formulas as you might if you stuck with an offline spreadsheet. Entering income, expenses, and other fields with regularity is all it takes to generate useful reports and documents.

As stated, it lowers the risk of accounting errors when using cloud-based accounting systems because all the relevant financial information is entered in the same place. If you’re inputting data regularly and categorizing any transactions, you can have an accurate report anytime.

Support From a Managed Service Provider

A good MSP takes the challenges of setup and adaptation for your firm and makes them seamless by handling major parts of integration and management for you.

You can contact them for tech support and receive instant access to cloud system professionals available to help you with any issues you might have. This can save your agency time and money by not employing an entire in-house IT team to deal with any technical issues or questions.

Conclusion

It's clear why CPA firms today are drawn to cloud accounting for its advantages in remote access, automation, and unified information and data structures.

Considering the cloud? Cetrom is a top-rated MSP. By leveraging Cetrom Connect, you can ensure your technology infrastructure is well-maintained and up-to-date. This lets you focus on your core operations, knowing that your transition's technical needs are in capable hands.

Partner with Cetrom to experience the benefits of our expertise and support in managing accounting-tailored cloud solutions for your firm.

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