Cloud base accounting revolution

Many organisations today are still focused on concepts such as “core hours” and “afterhours”. In a modern age where skype, the internet and cloud based software enables individual consumers to connect with friends, family and business partners anywhere, anytime, why not also co-workers and line managers? In my experience, many companies are philosophical in agreement with the idea of telecommuting but lack the will to fully implement what it truly means. Telecommuting is not just “working from home”. That statement alone invokes images of employees sitting around getting paid a full time salary to watch TV while typing up a report. There are clear benefits to getting staff focused and productive by setting core hours and providing them with a desk next to co-workers.

Work from home is not what telecommuting is all about. Many professional services firms require workers to be out of the office meeting with clients, government officials or other stakeholders so wouldn’t it make more sense to migrate as much of your tools and software onto the cloud? Take recruitment as an example. Recruiters need access to a client/candidate database to do their job. If the only way a recruiter can access database information is by being shackled to their desk and opening up an installed piece of software from their computer, what productivity gains are they missing out on when they are out of the office and suddenly need access to that information? If they are meeting with a client, what edge are they losing that might help them close the deal that little bit faster? If you have an Accounts Receivable team that is pushed to the limit everyday, how much damage is done to your organisation if a key team member is late to work or has a medical appointment in the morning? Cloud based software enables staff to better coordinate their efforts, assign tasks and multi-task to overcome such unexpected challenges.

Examples of top cloud based software used by firms around the world include:

OfficeTime. This software records billable hours as you work and generates invoices and reports based on them and is a small business owner’s best friend. By default, OfficeTime has excellent abilities for recording billable time as you work, calculates per-minute cost of your time as you work, and generates invoices.

Sage One. Sage One is a cloud-based business services solution aimed at micro and small business. It offers invoicing, project tracking, expense management, and more. It’s got a solid interface and intuitive workflow but its one-size-fits-all functionality limits customization and it’s not a comprehensive solution for running your entire business.

Adobe FormsCentral. Adobe provides a good and easy way to create some fairly user-interactive forms for your business website or social media pages but the real value is in the business intelligence data analysis tools. Quick and easy-to-use Business Intelligence capability is integrated with form design.

Docusign Pro. DocuSign Pro moves the process of getting important documents signed completely online. Its tagging system shows the recipient what to do, and it offers a full court-accepted audit trail of the process. It’s a great choice for electronic signing of documents. DocuSign Business and DocuSign Enterprise add centralized management of multiple users, corporate branding, shared document libraries, and more.

Adobe Connect. This is a great piece of web conference software which allows users to engage with participants.

Gliffy. This is a very cost effective cloud based solution for making diagrams. Gliffy is quick-and-easy online diagram-making tool and also has native collaboration capability. Create diagrams such as floor plans, flowcharts, organizational charts, Venn diagrams, and more.

Salesforce. Salesforce continues to lead in the CRM space, with a robust series of offerings geared toward SMBs as well as larger companies. The Professional Edition is the real SMB sweet spot. It offers full reporting and analytics, custom dashboards, e-mail marketing, sales forecasts, granular permissions, real-time data sharing, and basic customer service tools.

FreshBooks. You get it all with FreshBooks: client and product/service records, easy invoice creation and dispatching, document-sharing and reports, and the best integration/smartphone support on the Web. FreshBooks also builds in a lot of collaboration. For example, clients and contractors can access pertinent subsets of the site; this is unusual. FreshBooks’ extensibility also is better than anyone’s: Besides a host of add-ons, it integrates data with sites like Outright.

Abukai Express. Abukai Expenses is poised to revolutionize the way we process expense reports. At the front-end is a mobile app (for Android, iOS, and Blackberry) but the back-end is Abukai’s cloud service. Expense reports are filed in three easy steps that require users to type in nary a character: take a picture of your receipt from a smartphone, submit it, and receive your finished expense report.

Google Drive. Nothing beats good old fashioned Google, except it’s probably not that old fashioned anymore because Google Drive offers not only cloud based storage options but also Google Docs. Docs is basically Word, Powerpoint and Excel rolled into one free easy to use cloud based platform.

Are you looking to hire talent next year? If yes, no doubt you’ve probably realized you’ll need to offer some extra incentives beyond salary and super to entice good candidates into applying for your vacancy. Some companies bizarrely offer “perks” such as extra time for lunch breaks or free salad and fruit baskets for lunch. Great ideas and I don’t knock them for effort or imagination but is this really what quality candidates are looking for in a role? I’d argue no. I’d argue they are looking for greater flexibility when it comes to finding ways to collaborate with colleagues and clients. If you can position your organisation in 2016 as an innovative leader in providing staff with the technology and tools they need to make their life easier they will jump at the chance to join your ship’s crew and make your hiring efforts a little bit easier.

If you are an Accounting/Finance Professional interested in exploring new opportunities in the Brisbane market we’d love to hear from you on (07) 3135 9780. I also encourage you to join our private LinkedIn network (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/7021899). As you probably are aware we do move quite quickly on the roles we recruit for so it pays to stay ahead of the competition. Our group is an exclusive community I am building up for Finance Professionals in Brisbane who want to share job search opportunities, industry news, blogs and other content. You’ll also have an opportunity to network with each other. You might even come across some people you have worked with in the past!

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