For smaller tax practices, moving to the cloud is being driven by customer expectation not technology, as Senior Product Manager Richard Puffe explains.
Puffe said while 80% of Australian accountants are using some elements of cloud software in tax preparation, that figure is closer to 25% for those using a full cloud-based tax management solution. But that is fast changing due to greater customer expectation.
“It’s not so much technology that’s driving change but people’s behaviour. There’s now an expectation from the customer that services happen ‘now, now, now’. That want of immediacy is pushing customers to practices that can deliver on that,” he said.
“What customers expect from their accountants, and how they communicate with them and share information, is changing all the time. Accountants will need to accommodate that if they are continue to grow or even hold onto their client base.”
Puffe said moving to the cloud is now seen in the industry as inevitable, almost standard, and accountants should be talking to their provider to ensure they are prepared for the transition.
He said the advantages of using cloud-based technology over desktop-based systems are now too overwhelming to ignore, particularly with regard to cost and collaboration.
“On a very basic level, a cloud-based tax management solution saves you money. You don’t need to employ an IT person to install upgrades, and back-ups are automatic. You don’t need to invest in servers and hardware. All you need is reliable access to the internet.
“There’s also the advantage of greater collaboration both internally and with clients, and having one source of truth makes compliance easier, more accurate and timely as everyone is looking at the same real-time data. One of the downfalls with desktop-based solutions is that data can fall out of date very quickly and be unreliable.
“For example, what happens if I go to a client’s place of business to do their tax return. Am I doing it on my laptop and then do I have to import it back onto the server at work? And what happens if I forget?
“Having a single database environment is a massive game changer for our industry. You should be able to advise on real-time data to deliver true and immediate results for your clients. With a more efficient data workflow you can deal with client documents or track internal time and billing all on the one platform. You can be anywhere, anytime, on any device, and access the same information.”