Cloud accounting can be described as a type of accounting in which the transactions are performed through the internet. Cloud accounting does not require an organization to install software in a computer or even own a server. There are several cloud computing companies that sell the cloud computing services whereby they provide the applications and remote servers. An organization is guaranteed online access where it is able to manage and maintain the financial records for a fee (Hampshire 2011, p.17). These cloud accounting services comprises of either pay-per use services or broad based subscriptions that add value to incumbent information technology capabilities through the provision of real time through the web. Cloud accounting helps to add capacity and value to many organizations without necessarily investing on personnel training and new systems and software.
The advantages of cloud accounting services as accounting solutions in an organization are practically limitless, especially for small businesses. Cloud computing systems having the correct middle ware provides almost all capabilities to run programs which a normal computer can (Workshop on Learning Technology for Education in Cloud, & Uden 2012, p. 23-56). Such system is capable of running many programs from generic spreadsheets to word processing programs, and these features may provide accounting solutions. The other advantage of using the cloud computing software is that it has an independent location. This means that the servers are able to serve several shared users, resources and data and any other accounting services on demand. Many organizations have unlimited data, which needs tracking hence they require an efficient automated system that will save time (Christauskas & Miseviciene 2012). Cloud accounting services enables users to automatically register and create their incomes into invoices.
There are several cloud accounting websites that offer a wide range of services to customers. One such a website is financialforce.com (http://www.financialforce.com/). In this online accounting application, services that are offered include data migration, application and charts of account design, accounting best practices and business process reporting among others. The services are provided by professionals and are based on the international accepted principles of accounting (financialforce.com). Another cloud accounting websites is Nola Pro cloud accounting (http://www.nolapro.com/). Some of the accounting services offered in this website includes complete accounting, order management, inventory control and robust payroll among others. This accounting website has no use restrictions, provides updates at no cost and manages multiple companies at the same time. The software can be modified to fit in a certain business as there are several options depending on the size and nature of the business. This software can be used for Linux Windows, and Mac programs unlike other accounting applications that are not compatible with other programs. Some of the core accounting services include credit card processing, drawing the general ledgers, accounts payable, accounts receivable and flexible taxes among others. While reporting, the software works with the real time data and reports have several options to create many unique reports (Nola Pro cloud accounting). Another common accounting website is liquid cloud accounting software (http://www.liquidaccounts.net/). The software is available from $ 15.99 per month meaning even a small business can afford. Some of the services provided in this website include preparation of payrolls, purchase orders, sales orders, online VAT, job costing, stock calculations and e-commerce among others. Liquid cloud accounting website seems to offer many services at a low price. Many businesses, large and small, can afford to pay for their services as they start from as low as $ 15.99 per month.
There are factors that should be considered before making a decision on whether to adapt cloud accounting or not. An organization should weigh the benefits and disadvantages of such a move. One of the benefits of adapting cloud accounting is that there is a reduced cost. The process is cost effective for many organizations regardless of the size. Cloud accounting eliminates the need of buying accounting software or hardware. It also requires no updates, unlike other conventional accounting software (Christauskas & Miseviciene 2012). Most cloud accounting websites have advanced features, unlike the traditional accounting software. For instance, some of them have multi-company feature where they are able to manage multiple organizations at the same time. Cloud accounting helps to improve business performance as it gives an organization a chance to react to changing business environment. Also, it helps the finance team to come up with real-time financial reports. However, there are some disadvantages of cloud accounting, which include a possible downtime where the organization relies on the internet connectivity. When there is no connectivity, it means that the organization will not access the software. The cloud accounting service providers may also encounter problems with the internet hence they will cause inconveniences to their clients. Another issue that has been raised is security issues (Curtis 2011). There has been an increase in the number of hackers hence storing data on the internet can be insecure for an organization. If an organization has enemies, the enemies will try to access the organization’s data through hacking. However, for small businesses that may be having a few competitors, storing data on the internet may increase security. The other problem of cloud accounting is the lack of support. Many cloud based accounting applications are complicated hence they are not user friendly. Some of the clouds accounting application are not flexible hence an organization is forced to use their formats and proprietary.
In conclusion, from the above cloud accounting websites, different services are offered. A business should choose the best service provider depending on its size and financial capabilities (Curtis 2011). In my view, cloud accounting is an appropriate opportunity for many small businesses to off-set the costs and hassles of IT management, if they can cope with the delimitations. The major concern is the security of an organization’s data on the internet. A business should choose the best accounting service provider for efficiency and effectiveness. The services provided by the cloud accounting websites are flexible meaning they can suite any organization.