Picking the right cloud accounting apps for your business
Cloud accounting has become a more common way of maintaining accounting records for many businesses over recent years. With this, we have seen a massive development in add on applications, known as ‘apps’. Now there is a vast choice of apps and this can be overwhelming for the end user. So which app/s should you choose and who can you turn to for advice?
There are the core apps that many businesses use, which offer them day to day efficiencies. Examples include apps which:
- reduce the time taken to manually process invoices;
- assist with the input and processing of employee expense claims
- and payroll apps for running the staff payroll.
These are what we would call the ‘core apps’ and they make up the basis of many cloud solutions.
Improved data capture for core apps
The ability for businesses and employees to submit photos and PDFs of documents via apps has revolutionised data capture. These submissions make the business records more complete. An additional benefit is that paper copies of documents do not need to be retained.
This technology has also improved the process for expense claims. Issues often arise as employees lose receipts and cannot provide their employer with back up to support their expense claim. This can lead to delays. Furthermore, VAT often cannot be reclaimed where there is no VAT invoice to support the amount claimed. In some cases, the lack of supporting documentation could mean that the employee is unable to reclaim their costs at all.
Expense trackers apps such Expensify help to remove this issue. An employee can submit an image of their receipt as soon as they get them. They do not need to worry about remembering to keep it somewhere safe and can instead throw it out as it will not be required.
Outside these core apps are the additional specialised apps. They can be sector-specific or help businesses to maximise the benefits of their cloud accounting solution.
Examples here include apps such as:
- Arthur Online for the management of property businesses
- Unleashed for client’s inventory control
- WorkflowMax for project management needs.
These are all more advanced apps that a business may choose to add at the time they adopt a cloud solution or at a later date once they have the basics in place. These apps usually take longer to implement because planning, implementation and training in the app are required.
The term ‘app stack’ describes a collection of apps that a specific business sector could use to maximise the benefits from their cloud solution. This is the wish list of apps that they could use rather than a definitive list of ‘must use’ applications.
No two businesses are identical. Therefore their unique requirements means that the app stack they choose will meet their specific needs. The functionality, cost and training time should all be considered. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution available.
There are solutions available for a whole host of sectors. It’s also possible to design your own app stack to meet your specific needs. These could include the more common apps such as those for data processing, credit control and reporting along, with the more specialised apps for stock, point of sale solutions or CRM apps.
Expert advice may be needed for the implementation and training of the less common apps, as these require specialist knowledge. Therefore, it is usually necessary to ensure that more time is permitted to plan the implementation.
It is also not required to implement all the apps within the app stack on day one! They can be rolled out over a period of time. With ongoing app development, it may be that the solution is tweaked over time to accommodate new features and/or to address the changing business needs.
The integration of the apps with the accounting software is crucial. Some apps are approved by the software, so they have been tested and they meet the approval status.
However, not all apps that are integrated are approved. The accounting software has an open API, which allow apps to talk to the software and developers to work on the integrations. If you look at an app that is not on the approved list, it would be advisable to test it thoroughly before you implement it.
Don’t be a victim of app overload
There has been a big increase in the apps available to businesses and ‘app overload’ could arise as a result. The key thing to remember is to take your time when designing a cloud solution. Be sure to establish what you are trying to achieve, the key features and the process of implementation. Once you have decided on the core apps, focus on these initially and look to add any additional apps slowly.
As the apps continue to evolve, so will the app stack and integrations. Keep up with the developments and consider changes to the solution in time if needed. Do not forget what your key requirements are, and make sure these are continuing to be met. Any other features will be a bonus!
There are a wide range of apps available and the numbers are growing quickly. Our cloud specialists can help you select the most suitable apps for your business and assist with the implementation and training of the selected apps. This will ensure that ‘app overload’ is avoided and that you and your team gain the maximum benefits from your new cloud accounting solution.