Ten or 20 years ago, technology would not have permitted the depth of remote work that we’ve seen over the past year. The importance of being able to ‘work from home’ without snags has never been more evident than when COVID-19 and social distancing became a part of everyday living.
And that’s one of many reasons it pays to review cloud technology and what it means to tax and audit firms.
For starters, the quick pivot from a mostly in-office environment to remote – punctuated by a massive increase in the use of cloud-based meeting platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams – could not have occurred previously because there was a reliance on server-based technologies.
That infrastructure simply cannot support current needs. However, the cloud has the power and security to pull it off.
If you think the cloud is strictly limited to the workplace, guess again. In fact, there’s a strong chance the cloud is already impacting your everyday life. As this recent Cloud Considerations post reminds us, streaming services, photo storage for your phone or device and many other services are already based in the cloud. And it’s most certainly already part of your workplace.
“At work, this might have been less apparent due to how we interact with the cloud – when we can access files that don’t sit on our computer hardware, the use of SharePoint, and OneDrive. The fact that you and a colleague can work on the same document (in some cases simultaneously) is possible because the document is stored in the cloud.”
In other words, if it’s good enough for you to binge your favorite Netflix series or cringe at your high school picture on Facebook – it’s good enough to go all in and make the most of cloud technology in the workplace.
Here are three things you need to know about why it pays to work in the cloud.
Software updates are easier in the cloud
Have you ever had to update your own software? Do you even feel comfortable updating your own software? Even for IT professionals, this can take time and effort. However, applications based in the cloud get updated automatically.
Because cloud software is updated frequently, this is a task you will no longer have to worry about. Having the most current technology means you are getting the most out of your software.
Integration of apps equals time saved
With different points of work linked together, there is no need to re-enter data. This obviously saves times and reduces the opportunity for human error to take place. It’s possible to pull in information from paper documents, integrating them into your automated tax workflow using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. From there, all relevant information can be in one convenient location, allowing you to reduce task and make optimal use of your time.
Without integration, employees must spend time shifting between separate information sources – a recipe for lower productivity and an ineffective use of a firm’s resources. Integration adds much-needed time back to your day.
It’s easier to get work done in the cloud
If you are not already in the cloud, there’s a strong chance your customers already are.
“It’s never been easier to work with remote teams for my business,” says Tyler Brooks, founder of Analytive, a marketing firm that builds and deploys cloud-based applications for its clients. “I can work with clients I’ve never met in person, on everything from initial bid through completion to the final payment.”
Clients – from firms of any size – are also becoming more comfortable with the cloud. Not only do they understand the cloud, but are using it in ways that should speak to tax and accounting professionals.
“We found ourselves data rich but insight poor,” said Miguel Danao, writing in CPA Practice Advisor. “In fact, we easily spent 40-50% of our time collecting, reconciling, and fixing the data, leaving less time to extract actionable insights.
“With the help of cloud planning, we were able to spend less time compiling numbers and more time advising our business partners with data-backed insights and strategy. Thanks to cloud planning, our organization saved 600 hours in the accounting and finance departments alone—freeing time for analysis, enabling best practices, and supporting greater business agility.”
With all that in mind, there’s a simple conclusion: Having the power of the cloud available in your workplace offers countless benefits, including creating greater collaboration and efficiency. In turn, this helps any business make the most of its resources.