Reach for the Clouds

Have you realised the dream of cloud-based financial tools?

It seems that the market has exploded with cloud-based systems over the past few years. Given the lower costs involved and the fact that you don’t need in-house servers and locally installed systems, it may be time to consider making the move.

The Government’s Making Tax Digital programme is also a key driver in the uptick in popularity of online accounting and finance systems. The programme is being rolled out over a number of years, with VAT-registered businesses with taxable turnover above the VAT threshold required to use the Making Tax Digital service for VAT from 1 April 2019.

Cloud-based services offer a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model, where the business pays a small monthly fee instead of paying hundreds of pounds for an in-house system.

So what are some of the benefits of using cloud technology for your organisation’s financial needs?

  • Reduces admin: cloud software is generally designed to be easy to use and creates efficiencies, allowing staff to spend more time on higher value or more complex work
  • Money savings: all your hardware, software, licensing and maintenance costs are built into the subscription costs
  • Anytime, anywhere: software can be accessed from any location, at any time, using the cloud, complementing today’s agile working practices
  • Works with many devices: a cloud platform makes working at any time and from a wide variety of devices easier and means companies can constantly sync data using a 3G, 4G or broadband connection
  • Security: there are specific standards and best practice for cloud-based software: check whether the software you choose has received ISO 27017 certification against the Information Security for Cloud Services international standard.


Remember to review the market

There is a bewildering choice of software available and businesses need to review each one and choose the system that suits their particular needs. Whichever option you choose should take into account the look and feel of the software, customisability and scalability, record keeping, tasks and data access reports and costs. There are also free trials offered for many of the above products.

And remember you can’t stand still: it’s important to keep up with technological advances and cloud-based solutions which are constantly developing and adding new features. New tools are also coming onto the market, so if there isn’t a tool that’s exactly right for you today, check back again and re-evaluate  in six months or a year.

What cloud-based accounting software is available?

Nowadays there’s a huge range of accounting software available that’s particularly suitable for businesses and can help with bookkeeping, invoicing, inventory and payroll. With the government’s Making Tax Digital plans rolling out, it’s more important than ever to be familiar with these options. They are also reasonably priced and some are free:

  • FreeAgent: this is aimed at freelancers and very small businesses and focuses on invoicing, and expenses. You can connect it to your online bank accounts and file VAT returns and self-assessment direct to HMRC. There’s a free 60-day trial
  • QuickBooks: good for freelancers and small businesses, it offers reporting and monitoring tools and is ideal for tasks like invoicing and payroll as well as tracking expenses and mileage. It also has self-assessment and VAT modules. You can connect various apps to it, such as PayPal and ReceiptBank.
  • Sage Business Cloud Accounting: one of the traditional accounting software firms that now offers a cloud-based offering, Sage covers all the key accounting areas such as invoicing and stock management, and also has a payroll module.
  • Xero: perhaps the best known cloud-based accounting package, Xero can be used for invoicing, tracking payments, payroll, and expense claims. It can also import your online banking records for reconciliation, and has modules including payroll and purchase orders. There’s an app that works on both iPhone and Android.
  • Zoho Books: this is part of a suite of applications, including a popular CRM tool. Zoho Books is designed for small businesses, and can be used for all the usual accounting functions like creating invoices, tracking expenses, and is Making Tax Digital ready. It also has an integrated time-tracking function.
  • FreshBooks: this is designed for freelancers and small businesses with basic accounting needs and has all the basic tools you’ll need for accounting. Like Zoho Books, it also has a time-tracking module built-in. It has a long list of software it can work with, including the Google suite, Capsule and MailChimp.


There are also some free offerings such as:

  • Wave accounting: this is useful for bookkeeping and invoicing.
  • GnuCash: is open source accounting software. You can use it to track stock, income, and expenses.


You might also want to consider CRM, time-tracking and efficiency tools like Capsule, Acuity, Toggl and Todoist.


Have you got the required financial skills in your organisation?

Find out how our specialist finance recruitment team can help form the bedrock of your business planning and finance needs with our permanent, interim and part-time finance staff. Get in touch today for an initial consultation.


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