It’s fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated cloud adoption significantly, particularly among small and medium-sized practices. By the end of Q1 2020, senior technology CEOs were saying that they had seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. This change came because a wider range of customers were adopting cloud solutions - SME cloud accounting had become mainstream. By the end of 2021, Gartner reported that the worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services forecast had grown to $304.9 billion, an 18.4% increase on $257.5 billion in 2020. Large and small practices were upping their cloud game in a big way, and often in a hurry.
However, many practices still experience a few key uncertainties. For some practices, the sprint to the cloud may have felt a little post-haste, or not especially strategic. Others may have felt under pressure to adopt the cloud as an off-premise solution before they were really ready to do so. As such, they may not yet be taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by cloud accounting platforms.
If this sounds like you, don’t worry. You’re not alone. It’s never too late to optimise how your practice uses the cloud. A clear strategy for SME cloud accounting can drive transformational practice change.
At Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK, we advance our technology agenda through cloud, mobility and SaaS solutions. In this article, we’ll take a look at the basics of developing a solid SME cloud accounting strategy. From changing the way you look at digital transformation to understanding your practice growth goals, we want to help your team make the most of the cloud.
What does digital transformation mean to you as a practice?
If you aren’t sure whether your practice is using the cloud to its fullest potential, consider the following questions. Are you leveraging the cloud to achieve new business outcomes? Is the cloud solving pain points for your clients? If the answer to these questions is no, then we’ve got good news. You’ve got untapped potential, and new opportunities to significantly modernise your practice through SME cloud accounting.
You’ll need to consider what digital transformation means to your practice. Ultimately, the use of cloud storage should remove friction and increase engagement with your clients. The same applies to cloud-based accounting platforms and applications. Digital transformation and an SME cloud accounting strategy should start from a goal-oriented and structural mindset. This helps you determine how the cloud can modernise and benefit your practice.
Modernising your practice with the cloud
Your SME cloud accounting strategy should aim high and deliver. You’ll want to think beyond the foundational benefits and practicalities of cloud storage, and consider the further potential of cloud computing. What can integrated cloud-based accounting platforms do for your practice?
Modern practices are migrating their apps and infrastructure to the cloud and taking advantage of platform-based collaboration. This means that their advisor and client workspaces are connected for secure collaboration, and for messaging and document exchange. This is producing significant productivity gains and efficiencies.
Cloud-based accounting platforms host a single, secure place where advisors across an entire practice can seamlessly and transparently manage all client communications. Clients can each have their own permissioned document centre, where advisors can track the progress and status of a document from anywhere, at any given time. Documents are no longer lost in inboxes. Most importantly, everyone knows that they are working on a common version of a document.
Ultimately, it means that processes and workflow can be streamlined. In many instances, automation can be applied to repetitive tasks. Without the triviality of constantly chasing documents, advisors can focus on additional value-added services for their clients. It also means more time to develop new lines of business, and potentially reach out to potential new clients.
Preparing your people to make the most of the cloud
When it comes to executing and capitalising on cloud strategy, many practices are recognising the need to upskill their people. Again, if this is the case, you’re not alone. The UK government’s February 2022 ‘Levelling Up’ whitepaper identified a national digital skills gap. It plans to increase the number of people completing high-quality skills training across every region in the UK by 2030.
However, there’s no need to wait until 2030 to use the cloud optimally and secure the IT skills you need. Organisations should consider investing in digital skills now, to remain resilient in the face of an uncertain business landscape. That starts with being operationally strong and flexible.
Legacy technologies will soon become redundant. As modern practices become more innovation-driven, SME cloud accounting will become the norm. This makes it more important to upskill core technology competencies. If you’re looking for help to build your team’s cloud capabilities, look no further than your cloud-based accounting platform provider.
Cloud: continuous rewards for future-focused practices
Wolters Kluwer’s commitment to being digital-first puts us at the forefront of the ongoing shift to cloud-based integrated solutions. The cloud was critical in enabling companies to cope with the tumultuous change in business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, across that two-year period between 2020 and 2022, something else became evident - the practices that continually push their cloud capabilities further are best placed to grow their client base. They also have greater scope to offer new lines of businesses easily and efficiently. With a seamless central platform for all practice and client management, the sky’s the limit for SME cloud accounting.