The recent boom in cloud accounting services might have you wondering how to get your company’s accounting department up and running with one of the top online accounting providers. Moving your financial operations to the cloud usually means more convenience, better security, and less maintenance for your employees to handle.

But before you take the leap, you probably have a few questions. What is cloud based accounting software? Is it the right move for your business? Are there any other alternatives that might be a better fit?

You’ll want to be sure of your decision before making the switch, so you don’t lose sleep over putting your sensitive financial data on a third-party server that’s not under your direct control. 

This guide will help you decide on the right choice for your business. 

Zeni is here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and perhaps even become your new provider of cloud accounting services. Have our team address your concerns directly by signing up for a free demo. 

The Following Points Will Help You Get Started With Cloud Accounting

What is cloud accounting compared to traditional accounting?

Every business owner needs some sort of program to handle accounting. Unless your accountant prefers to work with a pen and paper, chances are your company is already using some version of accounting software.

But up until the past 5-10 years, businesses typically used traditional desktop programs to store all financial records in one place. The program would give the company accountant a convenient way to crunch numbers and keep everything organized. 

The downfall was that businesses installed these programs on one computer, probably in someone’s office inside a building or on a locally controlled data center server. If anyone not in front of that specific computer terminal wanted to access the accounting software, they had to remotely log in from another location. That remote connection had the potential to open up unsecured doorways into company financial information.

Even without the occasional remote connection, traditional desktop accounting software has numerous security issues. Unless you’ve locked down that computer with extensive cybersecurity defenses, your data could easily get exposed. 

Accounting in the cloud represents the other side of the coin. It takes place on a server hosted by a third-party cloud service provider. That service provider is responsible for providing robust cybersecurity — and if they didn’t, it’s unlikely the company would be very successful. 

So you can relax knowing your financial information is protected behind a professionally installed firewall and other cybersecurity measures. There is no financial or transactional data stored on your system, so if someone breaches your company’s network, your data is still safe and secure. 

Better still, your cloud based accounting system is easily accessible to your whole accounting team, no matter where they happen to be in the world. You could have a team of accountants working from home or a local team working in the office, and they would have the same level of convenience, accessibility, and secure connection, regardless of the computer they’re using. All they need is an internet connection. 

In addition to security and accessibility, there are a few other benefits of using a cloud accounting system rather than a traditional desktop program:

  • Since there’s no physical paperwork involved, you can automate and optimize many processes that were previously time-consuming to complete. 
  • It may be less expensive to use cloud accounting software than to host your own and be responsible for purchasing and maintaining a local server. 
  • Since there is no server to maintain, you don’t need an IT team to service it. All you need is your team of accountants. 
  • You can handle payroll, taxes, financial reporting, planning, and analysis all in the same place. 
  • Advanced automation means fewer people are needed. This saves time and increases the accuracy of your calculations by reducing human errors. 

How do you choose the best cloud accounting system?

There are so many options available that you’ll need to narrow your choices down based on what you need to accomplish with the software. 

QuickBooks, for example, is geared toward general accounting so that you can do anything from inventory to payroll and taxes. Xero is an excellent choice if you plan to interact with your accounting system from a mobile device. And Zoho helps businesses with complex revenue streams manage their invoices. 

Larger enterprises might want to opt for a full-service ERP platform like NetSuite, which can handle the demands of sizable companies. 

Another option is Zeni, which offers full-service, AI-assisted cloud based accounting and bookkeeping. You don’t have to think about where to file another invoice or when you’ll have time to read that finance report that’s been on your desk for weeks, because Zeni is not a do-it-yourself service. Instead, our accountants handle all the tedious and complex work for you on a daily basis.  This daily bookkeeping strategy allows founders to track key trends and insights such as runway, burn rate and OpEx — in real-time, every day — via the Zeni Dashboard.

See Also: Accounting Software Comparison For Startups

What do cloud based accounting services cost?

Almost any service you can find offers a range of pricing tiers. On the lower end, you’ll find basic functionality that you manage by yourself. At higher pricing tiers, you’ll get advanced analytics, complex account management, and/or a full-service financial team. We recommend investigating before you sign up if you’re looking for a particular feature. 

Each company's prices are generally per organization, per month, except NetSuite. NetSuite charges a steep monthly licensing fee, in addition to per-user pricing. These prices make NetSuite a better choice for established enterprises rather than small businesses or startups.

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What if you already work with a CPA or a traditional accounting firm?

Typically, CPAs still host their data locally on servers they control. This means most CPAs use desktop accounting software rather than cloud based versions. 

While you’ll enjoy having someone handle your finances for you, you may experience all the drawbacks of locally hosted accounting software. 

But thankfully, you don’t have to compromise if you don’t want to. 

Is there a way to make cloud accounting easier? There certainly is. 

Even with the benefits of switching to the cloud, accounting itself still isn’t simple. 

You’ll be combing through the same financial reports, meticulously organizing the same avalanche of information, and crunching the same numbers as before; the cloud gives you a more convenient and secure way. 

With Zeni, you can bypass all of that and let our dedicated team of experienced finance experts take care of everything for you — bookkeeping, accounting, tax, and CFO needs. It’s like having a personal CPA or fractional CFO that comes with all the benefits of cloud based accounting.  

If you’ve already started using a cloud accounting solution such as QuickBooks, Zeni will integrate directly with this software and automatically pulls all your data into one place for easy access. 

Zeni isn’t just a powerful way to analyze and manage your finances in real-time using AI (though you can absolutely do that on our dashboard). We’re also a full-service financial team made up of human beings who can answer your accounting questions, generate detailed reports, and track your company’s financial health is exactly where you want it to be. 

Everything you share with Zeni is encrypted, password-protected, and not disclosed to anyone, so your information is actually safer than if you handed your local CPA a file containing your company’s financial information. 

Want to take a look at Zeni? Sign up for a free demo to see what Zeni can do for you.