Cornerstone began offering cloud-based accounting software for clients just over 36 months ago and it was a real revelation. Clients had more control and visibility of their finances and we could provide bookkeeping services more efficiently.
However, moving over 50 desktop clients to cloud accounting isn’t as easy as it sounds. In the end not all could agree to move and we had to fire those clients that refused to move away from desktop software. It made sense for us, and it might be the right thing for you to do too.
The first hurdle in moving to a cloud-based practice was convincing clients that it was the right thing to do. This took longer than expected. In fact the whole process took over over 18 months.
The first 15 clients were the slowest to move. They were understandably uneasy about changing their accounting software.
Once clients started moving we used them as case studies which was very effective, and the majority of clients moved much more quickly.
By now we had a good proportion of our clients on the cloud and we started to see improvements in how our business operated.
Site visits, and the time and costs incurred, were now a thing of the past. Xero, QuickBooks Online or MYOB Online software gave us access to information from anywhere resulting in more flexibility for our bookkeepers.
Cloud software had more efficient processes which allowed us to pass on cost savings to clients.
We soon hit the second hurdle. We discovered that maintaining two streams of clients, one in the cloud and one on desktop software, was going to be disastrous for ourselves – and our clients.
The business was operating internally at two speeds. Our bookkeepers could work with multiple clients on cloud accounting each day. By comparison, one desktop client could easily account for a day of business.
Desktop clients slowed us down and gave us more work to do. Clients keep files on-site, meaning access and the bookkeeping process is slow and cumbersome and no real-time information is available. As an example, checking credit card transactions required clients to send the transaction receipts – a process which could take days.
With no particular password protection in place, there was no accountability for those making changes and thus no tracking of errors. Training our team was a continual process to ensure staff stayed on top of individual client processes.
Cloud accounting allowed us to streamline processes in our business, but those efficiencies were lost when we reverted to looking after desktop clients.
The final 10 or 15 clients on desktop software were adamant. They didn’t want to move to the cloud. We made the decision to let some of these clients go. We could no longer fulfill their needs.
This meant a temporary loss of income but the efficiencies in our cloud service ensured cash flow was positive during this time.
In reviewing this process, some of our communication should have been better. From a business perspective, however, keeping desktop clients that did not fit our service model was a scenario that was only going to anchor us. It’s always unfortunate to lose a client, but to move our business to where it is now, with 100 percent of clients using cloud-based software, it was a decision we had to make.