Cloud accounting practices are not created equal. Some are young and free to select the cloud applications that best fit their internal processes. Others have decades of experience prior to the cloud trend emerging and require a tailored migration pathway for their established practices. The distinction between the new and the traditional shapes the choice of business models a cloud accounting practice can pursue. That distinction is reflected in the providers of cloud migration services.
Cloud migration specialist HubOne has released the Modern Practice 2.6, a tool best suited to established accounting firms that want to eliminate costly servers and desktop systems while taking advantage of the mobility and administrative efficiencies offered by the cloud.
One advantage of the cloud is that it unties practice’s client data from the office hardware that used to store it. An accountant can access that data from anywhere with an internet connection and a mobile device.
And since the cloud provides a single, constantly updating data point, various applications can connect seamlessly to the client data to add extra functions. The full potential of cloud technologies is unlocked when all client information within the practice is cloud based. This concept is at the core of HubOne’s Modern Practice.
Conventional accounting practices have specific requirements; they cannot switch to cloud overnight. Their historical data needs to be migrated, staff must be trained, their paper based processes adapted to the new environment and, above all, security and control cannot be sacrificed during the transition.
For these firms, taking advantage of the cloud is a daunting undertaking. A chance to reinvent itself? Certainly. But most would prefer to follow a familiar technology.
What is the Modern Practice?
The concept behind Modern Practice 2.6 consists of twelve technology areas core to accounting practices. A collection of cloud applications and associated functions (eg. document scanning) is then used to address these technology needs.
HubOne’s Modern Practice is based around Xero’s Practice Studio, a program which stores documents and client data. However, an accountant will likely spend a lot of their time within the Modern Practice Portal interface.
This application pulls and pushes data to Practice Studio and allows for easy management of client documents online. The Modern Practice Portal is customised for accounting practices and based on Microsoft’s document management platform Sharepoint Online, a key part of the Microsoft Office 365 cloud productivity suite.
Other software included in the Modern Practice include a hosted version of HandiTax (which will most likely be replaced by Xero Tax, due next month) and cloud instance of secretarial solution BGL CAS. Migrating a practice into the cloud is tailored process, so the exact bundle of apps your practice ends up using may vary.
The benefits of the Modern Practice
HubOne claims that Modern Practice 2.6 allows accounting firms to increase their efficiency by replacing silos of client data with an integrated network of cloud applications with ongoing technical support. For example, Modern Practice 2.6 automatically fills standard documents on Microsoft Word templates (engagement letters, for example) with client information drawn from Xero’s Practice Studio.
Alternatively, HubOne’s paper management solutions file scanned documents automatically filled based on the client data in the document. Overall, once staff have been trained and are used to the new systems, a practice should see a reduction in administrative tasks and efficiency improvements.
How to move to Modern Practice
Migration pathways to Modern Practice are firm specific, largely dependent on technologies already being used in the firm.
Some migrations can take many weeks, others can do it in a month. The best advice would be to talk to a cloud migration specialist. They can be the ones that outline the custom process for you.
Some practices should not migrate to the cloud quite yet, maybe because they specialise in areas that do not have good cloud software solutions, such as insolvency or audit.
Modern Practice 2.6 is not the only option for established firms wanting to move to the cloud. Xero’s Practice Studio integrates with cloud-based document management solutions Box or Google Drive. An alternative set of cloud applications, outside of HubOne’s selection, can be used to run a cloud accounting practice. With the cloud accounting trend in the beginning stages of what promises to be strong years of growth, developing your own cloud strategy becomes essential.
The best way to start? Talk to implementation specialists such as HubOne, Focus Growth Strategies, Abacus Business Solutions and Change GPS. You will quickly see that each tailors its services to a particular kind of accounting practice and has a different set of tools to help you with the transition.
Image credit: HubOne