There are many options out there for sole traders and SMEs when it comes to managing business invoicing and accounting. The first solutions people tend to turn to are the reliable classics: Word and Excel.
While these offer some snazzy invoice templates, they may be a bit harder and more time consuming to work with than they seem at first glance. They also require an additional bookkeeping program and impeccable record-keeping abilities. Not to mention proper calculations and invoice numbering.
Word and Excel may be the easy choice, but creating invoices and managing your business accounting has never been easier with cloud-based applications.
Specialised invoicing and accounting software
Thankfully, there are modern solutions to these accounting software woes. Invoicing and accounting software allows you to keep track of all of your tasks in one place and seamlessly link your invoicing with your business accounting.
A step up from the desktop softwares, you’ll find cloud-based applications. If you’re not familiar with ‘the cloud’, it’s essentially your own private online sphere and storage space. There are many uses for cloud-based software, but here’s why it should be your first choice when selecting the right software for your business invoicing and accounting needs:
1. You can access it anywhere, at any time
This is an obvious win. Ever tried to edit an Excel spreadsheet on your mobile? Need to meet your client and don’t want to forget to record the cheque they’ve given you? You no longer need to jot down details for later, just enter it directly into your cloud-based app then and there.
It also means that no matter which device you use to access your accounts, using your private username and password you can sign in and view your personal data as you would on your home computer. In contrast to desktop software, this allows considerably more flexibility – necessary for businesses today.
2. Computer crashed? Your data is safe
If you’ve ever experienced your computer dying a sudden, permanent death, you know the panic that comes with possibly losing your data. Age, overuse, a virus, a technical malfunction – these can all cause your hard drive to crash, taking your data down with it. That means all invoices, all accounting records: gone, leaving your business in the lurch.
On the cloud, your data is never affected by the condition of a device. Because it’s stored virtually instead of in a specific hard drive, it isn’t threatened by the condition of the hardware. So grab your tablet or smartphone and it will all still be there, ready for use.
3. Cloud-based systems have a strict set of regulations for data protection
Traditional software is protected by the same security parameters that protect your computer. This means that any virus that gets into your computer, no matter how it enters, could theoretically gain access to or corrupt these files.
Cloud-based systems have a high set of security standards. Especially if based within the EU, these systems must meet Teflon-level requirements that have been set in place to ensure that your sensitive data is protected at all times. They are also updated constantly to protect against even the newest potential threats.
4. Customer support, when you need it
While desktop software often comes with extensive how-tos and limited FAQs, answers to more complex or unique questions must usually be hunted down on online forums or involve calls to toll-free numbers with lengthy waiting times. And when was the last time you saw customer support for Word or Excel?
In contrast, some of the online cloud-based systems offer the option to contact customer support with any questions from within the application itself. Many of these have a very quick response time – helping you get your answers and get your work done faster.
5. Enhanced features at your fingertips
While downloaded software is regularly updated and it’s now easier than ever to install the most recent versions, this can still cut into your workflow, forcing you to restart your device or go through several steps of confirmation to download (I’m talking about you, endless Microsoft Office updates).
Cloud-based software is constantly being updated and improved and you can benefit from the most recent and technologically advanced functions as soon as they’re introduced – without waiting for the download and reboot.
6. Unlimited storage capability
Your computer has a limit to how much data it can hold. Granted, Word and Excel documents don’t take up a large amount of space, but by using cloud-based software, you never need worry about whether there will be enough space available. The cloud is truly unlimited, and this applies to your accounting data as well.
7. Lower costs
Full-scale accounting software must be installed and maintained, often with high up-front costs, additional costs for special options, as well as for future updates or upgrades if you find your business requires more functions. And while Word and Excel are a relatively inexpensive option, when time is money, it’s worth saving as much of your time as possible.
Cloud-based systems are generally more affordable than desktop versions, allowing small businesses to save on up-front costs by using a more flexible subscription system that allows access to the application based more on your unique business needs.
While the traditional approach might be the more comfortable route, cloud-based software is developing rapidly to meet the needs of specific types and levels of business around the world.
About the author
Whitney Highum is a bookkeeping expert with Debitoor, a cloud-based invoicing and accounting software. She has a background in hedge fund marketing.