In Part1 we looked at the practical advantages of working in the cloud and the protections and efficiencies that it offers in the following areas:
In Part 2 we will now look at some of the “WOW” aspects of working in the cloud and how it allows you to collaborate with your accountant and run a better business.
Here’s where cloud computing gets exciting…
While the security, risk and convenience aspects of cloud computing are worthwhile, they are not the most exciting and compelling benefits of cloud computing to a business owner.
Let’s look at some of the “wow” aspects of cloud computing.
Efficiency via Data Flows
Every business wants to be more efficient. It saves money. Saves time. And it allows you to provide even better service.
By adopting cloud computing and building an “app ecosystem” for your business you can eliminate a number of inefficiencies where data is being manually re-entered into multiple systems.
Your data can seamlessly flow from one app (area of your business) to the next without the added step of manual data entry. Manual data entry is not only an expense and an inefficiency that slows down your business processes, it introduces the opportunity for error.
Work to eliminate all manual data entry in your business. Solutions like ‘Receipt Bank’ allow invoices to be ‘coded’ electronically and entered into your accounting system – allowing you and your accountant to work through transactions in real time. They also have the added advantage of providing electronic storage of source documents for later reference – no more boxes full of invoices!
App Ecosystem Example
Imagine your business has fully embraced “the cloud”, and has connected various apps so data flows automatically from one app to the next.
Let’s say someone then searches Google for your type of business, product or service. They find your website. They see something on your site they would like to access, such as a PDF document with helpful information in it. They enter their email address and perhaps their first name in order to receive it.
They are now in your business’ marketing database and Contact Relationship Management (CRM) system. And they did the data entry.
Over the following few weeks this prospective customer or client receives email updates and e-newsletters from your business that gradually educate and build trust with the prospect simply by being helpful and sharing relevant hints and tips based on what they previously downloaded.
And this happens automatically thanks to your marketing automation app such as Infusionsoft.
The prospective customer then clicks on a link in an email and comes back to your business’ website. They’re ready to talk to someone, so they enter their information into the Contact Us web form. This time they enter their last name and their telephone number.
This data also flows straight into your business’ CRM.
Next, you’re speaking with them on the telephone and they like what they hear. They request a quote or proposal. You use a cloud-based proposal creation app (such as Proposify) that integrates with your CRM to automatically pull in the prospect’s information. You click a few boxes on screen to select the product and service options to include in the proposal.
You click a button and the proposal goes to your prospect via email.
They open the email, click on the link to the electronic proposal and view it online. They decide to go ahead so they click Accept, sign it digitally (on screen) and then enter their credit card details to purchase.
This automatically adds them as a customer to your cloud-based accounting app such as Xero It also enters their credit card details into your secure eCommerce payment processing platform linked to your marketing automation app. And then your payment processor (e.g. eWAY) processes the credit card transaction.
Xero automatically emails them an invoice marked as Paid, and the live bank feed will bring in the transaction ready to be reconciled (matched) to the invoice within 24 hours. So your accounting is up to date, and yet no-one in your business had to enter—let alone re-enter—any data.
You have a new customer, the money is in your bank account, and you’re ready to deliver.
The purchase also triggered a fulfilment list and email instructions to your relevant team members, and added the job to your workflow (job tracking) system.
Your business is amazingly efficient. You move with velocity thanks to data flows. You amaze your prospects and customers with your service, and impress them with your tech savvy. You’re saving tens of thousands of dollars a year on old school IT and administration approaches that would require an additional staff and contractors.
As these transactions are being processed in real time your accountant can generate reports using up to date information which allows a more strategic discussion about the business and what areas can be targeted for improvement.
You’re a modern, cloud-based business. And you’re loving it.
Where to start with ‘going to the cloud’
The process of going to the cloud starts with looking at your whole business process and identifying the ‘pain points’ that create work and restrict information flow. These are likely to include aspects of your accounting system although it’s important to identify the right problem and then determine a solution and not the other way around.
Beware of advisors that start with an app suggestion before they have looked at your business process as it is critical that the right problems are solved and not just the ones that suit the suggested app.
Your ideal accounting system and CRM platform will depend on your type of business and the apps you already use. Building your business’ app ecosystem is one of the most important areas for any business owner or entrepreneur to focus on.
That’s why we love advising businesses as they move to the cloud.
If you’d like to sit down with us and have a chat about your move to the cloud, get in touch to make a time.
Going to the cloud is no longer an option for a modern, competitive business.