When it first came onto the market, Microsoft Excel was a revolutionary product, greatly reducing the time and manpower necessary for complex financial record keeping. Today, however, there are plenty of horror stories about serious problems created by errors in Excel records. Excel mistakes have caused major academic researchers to arrive at skewed results. Businesses end up overstating profits, investment firms incur trading losses, and government agencies find significant budget shortfalls – all because of errors in Excel data.
If your small business uses Excel and doesn’t have a similar horror story, consider yourself lucky. The fact is that Excel doesn’t have enough safeguards in place to prevent human error. Problems are created through manual data entry or when records are merged and manually pasted. Such situations provide plenty of leeway for potentially costly mistakes.
Fortunately there’s a low-cost and efficient alternative to Excel: cloud accounting software.
Accuracy: Accounting records are updated automatically rather than manually, reducing the odds of human error. There is one single source for accounting data, avoiding mistakes caused by multiple sources of financial records and eliminating the need to cut and paste. Records are updated instantaneously, so you know you’re working with the most up-to-date information.
Access: Your data isn’t confined to a single desktop or particular office. With cloud accounting, employees can access your company’s information from anywhere in the world at any time. In addition, employees can work together from multiple locations without having to email information back and forth. Many cloud providers also offer easy access for mobile devices.
Efficiency: Reports such as cash flow summaries can be created with the touch of a button. Cloud-based software can help your company budget and forecast business trends more accurately. In addition, your cloud provider is responsible for updates, back-ups, and security, allowing you to focus on your core business.
Budget: Cloud computing is sometimes thought of as the province of large businesses and government agencies, but it can be a cost-effective alternative for small and mid-sized organizations as well. You can avoid the upfront costs of purchasing expensive on-site equipment and instead pay a monthly fee. Also, you don’t have to pay for capacity you’re not using; instead, you can scale as needed.
You may have been wondering if your small business can afford cloud based accounting software, but maybe you should be asking yourself if you can afford not to have it. Pricing for cloud accounting software varies from a few tens of dollars (low-end) to thousands per month (high-end). Depending on the size of your business, the low-end software should suffice. Cloud accounting providers also make it really easy for businesses to upgrade to new and improved packages, making the software a perfect choice for growing businesses and startups. Most providers also offer a free trial so you can try it out without any out-of-pocket cost. Switching from Excel to cloud accounting software may give your small business that competitive edge you’ve been seeking.