Coronavirus – has it cemented the cloud’s place at the heart of accounting?

The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we work and operate, with the accounting industry being no exception. What this situation has shown is a resilient industry ready to adapt in order to thrive.

We’ve seen many firms making changes through digitisation – from embracing remote working and new digital client engagement tools, to adopting the cloud. According to SmartVault’s State of Accountants Survey, the majority of firms who believe their pandemic response has been successful have had at least one cloud system in place prior to going remote.

The switch to digital has already been rising over the last few years. Government initiatives like Making Tax Digital in April 2019 have accelerated this. The VAT returns of businesses over the VAT threshold must now be filed digitally, meaning more and more accountants and their clients are making use of cloud accounting software like Xero to help them do so.

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However, the global pandemic has seen the accounting industry adapting to a new, tech-focused normal, with the pandemic speeding up adoption of many digital processes. Businesses that have been traditional at the core are now discovering that digital processes offer far greater scalability and resilience, and as a result of Covid-19 we’re likely going to see a rapid shift.

It has accelerated the cloud-first mindset, with many accountants being forced to accelerate digitisation. Accountants have had to cement digital as part of their day-to-day – not only to be able to work remotely, but also to keep up with the increased demand of clients looking for financial support during this time.

The benefits of migrating your accounting processes to the cloud are vast and widely recognised. For instance, you are provided with a clear view of yours and your clients’ finances in real time, making it easy to spot any red flags as well as any opportunities for growth. This data can be accessed anytime from any device, which is more important than ever in the current climate.

Another benefit is automatic back ups, leaving no need to store years’ worth of documents in dusty filing cabinets. Documents can easily be accessed and are backed up on a regular basis. Ultimately, it vastly reduces the need for paperwork. Invoices also become paperless, making them more secure and more simple. They can be chased automatically as well, saving you valuable time and effort.

Like millions of us across the country, accountants haven’t been able to go to the office or able to deliver important documents – traditional processes have largely been left behind as the industry turns to digital to remain ‘business as usual’. Fortunately, this has demonstrated the true value of the cloud, through remote collaboration, uninterrupted communication and the reduced risk of error, particularly vital during this period.

Though lockdown is beginning to ease and businesses are beginning to return to their offices, there’s no doubt that many will keep these digital processes in place long after this period is over. This is just the beginning of the industry’s transformation, and this period is undoubtedly accelerating a new approach to running practices.

by Damon Anderson, Xero director of operations UK & EMEA

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