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3 Reasons to Embrace Cloud-Based Technology

CloudNew technologies offer ambitious professionals the chance to advance their careers, and their firms, to new heights. They can be especially beneficial to women and, indeed, any CPAs who want to set themselves apart professionally and preserve a healthy balance between their work and personal lives. In my own experience, I’ve used my cloud technology knowledge to expand my opportunities, accelerate my progress, boost my worth to clients and reinforce my relationships with them. How does the cloud enhance opportunities for CPAs?  

  1. It can expand practice development options.

Cloud-based technology makes it possible to store and access data online where it can be accessed by authorized users from any computer. It’s the tool behind client portals that allows clients and firms to update and collaborate on data they share access to. You can use it to distinguish yourself and your firm.  

When I began my own practice offering outsourced accounting services, I quickly found that many of my clients wanted help with the desktop accounting software they were using. Beyond help with cleaning up errors, they were eager for analyses of the data they were generating and the kind of perspective they could use for making decisions. These software packages have given small business clients greater access to their data, but they also add to businesses’ workloads.

Among other things, cloud-based platforms give accountants access to their clients’ general ledger systems, so CPAs can review their data regularly to alert clients to a new concern or opportunity. They can add even more value by putting together a package of business software in the cloud that is integrated and easy to use and understand. Like many small business people, my clients wanted to improve cash flow management, budgeting and business processes, but often weren’t aware of the solutions available. By developing an expertise in the technologies that could help them, I began building a real partnership with clients, offering a skillset they needed but couldn’t afford to bring in full time. For professionals seeking to set themselves apart in practice development, the cloud can be a valuable resource.

  1. It can help raise visibility.

Because of my success in growing my practice with the cloud, I was approached by a regional accounting firm that wanted to bring me — and my thriving business — in as a partner. My specialty gave me a fast track to a leadership role. Within a firm, a CPA might raise his or her visibility and lay the groundwork for cloud technologies by educating firm leaders about the advantages of a cloud-based niche and assembling a client base. CPAs can demonstrate their ability to bring in business and build a strong practice area on their own terms and their own schedule.

No matter your niche, the cloud can be made to work for you. Say, for example, that a CPA has a specialty in health and wellness businesses, such as chiropractors and fitness and yoga studios. That CPA would get up to speed on not only the accounting cloud-based software that was best for those clients, but also the scheduling, billing or other packages that fit the needs of their industry, putting them all together in a customized dashboard. The CPA would deliver the customized industry insights and access to the big picture that small business people often can’t find anywhere else.  

  1. It’s perfect for a flexible schedule.

With cloud technology, CPAs can deliver a great deal of value without physically being in an office or keeping specific hours. That can change a firm’s leadership progression, because it allows professionals to remain on their career paths without slowing down or leaving the profession temporarily due to family or other concerns. 

It is true that working remotely and through the cloud requires new steps to ensure you maintain those important relationships with your clients and your team. I use Google Hangouts for messaging, voice and video calls. I also use Slack, which allows me to create private channels that organize conversations and share documents. While tools like Skype and Zoom video conferencing can make contacts more personal, it may still be necessary to step back sometimes and use in-person contacts to ensure that those important personal bonds are still in place.

What can the cloud do for you?

Given their soaring growth, cloud-based technologies are clearly an area of opportunity for CPAs and their clients. They can also be a boon for CPA firms that seek to promote women’s leadership and better engage with Millennials—both male and female—who are excited about new ways to work and who seek greater balance in their work and personal lives. These technologies can equalize opportunities since they provide assistance that clients will appreciate, and are easily adapted to nontraditional schedules. You’ll be amazed at the changes they can make in your organization or career.   

Amy Vetter, CPA.CITP, CGMA, Chief Relationship Officer-Partner Channel, Xero Americas, has been named to Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting and one of CPA Practice Advisor’s Most Powerful Women in Accounting. Vetter was a speaker at last year’s AICPA Women’s Global Leadership Summit. She is also a member of the AICPA IMTA Executive Committee and a CITP Champion.

Cloud courtesy of Shutterstock

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