What’s hAPPening to Cloud Accounting?
Pick the right cloud accounting apps for your business
Cloud accounting has become a more common way of maintaining accounting records for many businesses over recent years and with this, we have seen a massive development in the add on applications which are known as “apps”. Now we are at a point where there is a vast choice of apps and this can, at times, be overwhelming for the end user. So which app do you choose and who can you turn to for advice?
There are and always will be the core apps that many businesses can and will use as they offer them day to day efficiencies. Examples include apps to reduce the time taken to manually process invoices, those that assist with the input and processing of employee expense claims and payroll apps for running the staff payroll. These are what we would call the “core apps” and they make up the basis of many cloud solutions.
The ability for businesses and employees to submit photos and PDFs of documents via apps has revolutionised data capture. The availability of apps to allow the submission in this way has meant that the entry in the accounting system includes a digital image of the document so making the business records more complete and also means that the paper copies of documents do not need to be retained.
This is also seen with expense claims where often issues arise as employees lose receipts and cannot provide their employer with back up to support their expense claim. This, in turn, can lead to delays and can also mean that VAT cannot be reclaimed, where there is no VAT invoice to support the amount claimed. In some cases, the lack of supporting documentation could mean that the employee is unable to reclaim their costs at all. Therefore, the expenses app help to remove this issue as the employee can submit an image of their receipt as soon as they get them. They therefore do not need to worry about remembering to keep it somewhere safe and, instead, can throw it out as it will not be required.
Outside these core apps are the additional apps that can be business or sector specific apps or could be ones that businesses look to include in order to allow them to maximise the benefits of their cloud accounting solution.
Examples here include apps such as ‘Arthur Online’ for the management of property businesses, ‘Unleashed’ for client’s inventory control and ‘Workflow Max’ for project management needs. These are all more advanced apps that a business may choose to add at the time they adopt a cloud solution or at a later date once they have the basics in place. These apps usually take a longer to implement because the scope of the work to be addressed, planning and implementation all needs to be completed then training in the app will also need to be provided.
The term “app stack” is one that is used to describe a collection of apps that a specific business sector could use to maximise the benefits from their cloud solution. This is the “wish list” of apps that they could use and is not a definitive list of “must use” applications. No two businesses are identical, and their unique requirements means that their app stack they choose will comprise of the apps they feel meet their needs. The functionality, costs and training times will all come into consideration so there is no “one size fits all” solution available.
There are solutions available for a whole host of sectors and it is also possible to design your own app stack to meet your specific needs. The apps chosen will include the more common apps such as those for data processing, credit control and reporting along with the more specialised apps such as those for stock, point of sale solutions and CRM apps.
It may be that experts are needed to assist with the implementation and training of the less common apps as these require specialist advice. Therefore, it is usually necessary to ensure that more time is permitted to plan the implementation. It is also not necessary to implement all the apps in the app stack on day one. They can be rolled out over a period of time and, with the ongoing app development, it may be that the solution is “tweaked” over time to accommodate new features and/or to address the changing business needs.
The integration of the apps with the accounting software is crucial. Some apps are approved by the software, so they have been tested and they meet the approval status. However, not all apps that are integrated are approved as the accounting software has an “open API” which means they allow apps to talk to the software so allow developers to work on the integrations. If you look at an app that is not on the approved list, it would be advisable to test it thoroughly to ensure it functions as it should before you implement it.
Don’t be a victim of “app overload”
There has been a big increase in the apps available to businesses and “app overload” could arise as a result. The key thing to remember is to take your time when designing a cloud solution and establish what you are trying to achieve, the key features and the process of implementation. Once you have decided on the core apps then focus on these initially and look to add any additional apps slowly.
As the apps continue to evolve so the app stack could change in time so keep up with the developments and consider changes to the solution in time if needed. Overall do not forget what the key requirements are and make sure these are met than any other features will be a bonus!
There are a wide range of apps available and the numbers are growing quickly. The Digital Solutions Team at MHA MacIntyre Hudson can help you select the most suitable apps for your business and assist with the implementation and training of the selected apps.
This will ensure that “app overload” is avoided and that you and your team gain the maximum benefits from your new cloud accounting solution.