The most significant way that accounting software has evolved in response to new technology over the past decade is that it has become more accessible and easier to use than ever before. This, in turn, has meant that accountants and business owners can focus on doing their jobs as efficiently as possible rather than needing to worry about the tools they are using to do so.
That’s according to Steven Cohen, MD of Sage Pastel Accounting. He says that the real benefit of the shift to new technologies such as the cloud and mobile solutions for accountants and business owners is that it has made it simpler and more enjoyable to use accounting software. “The user experience in accounting software has shifted from complexity to simplicity over the past 20 years,” he says. “We started with DOS packages that were relatively hard to use and then we moved to the more intuitive graphical interfaces of Windows. Now, with cloud solutions, the focus is on offering an interface that is as easy to use and as feature-rich as a web browser or a mobile app.”
This shift in the market has prompted small business owners and independent accountants that once relied on Excel spreadsheets to shift towards using fully-featured online accounting software to do their work, adds Cohen. “As much as our customers love the benefits of mobility and the cloud, they tell us that the real reason they’re using our software is that it is easy to use – which in turn makes it easier for them to run their businesses,” Cohen says.
Cloud-based accounting solutions such as Sage Pastel’s My Business Online are enabling small businesses to become more efficient and flexible in the way they do business. Accounting in the cloud essentially means that your data and application lives on the web and not on your computer. This has a range of powerful benefits. One of these benefits is that you are no longer tied to your desk – you are not even tied to a single notebook computer anymore. You can securely access your accounting information and application, whether you’re working on your desktop in the office, laptop at home, iPad at an airport, or even your smartphone, while on the move, says Cohen. Suddenly, you can access customer accounts from your customer’s premises, your payroll from home, and what’s more, all without needing to buy licences and install software on several devices.
In addition, your data is securely stored at a world-class data centre in South Africa rather than on your own hard drive. That means you don’t need to hassle about backing up your date. The service provider will ensure that your data is stored securely and backed up. “You won’t need to worry about whether you’ve backed your data up and whether you’ll be able to recover your financial information if your hard drive crashes or your office is robbed or burns down,” says Cohen.
The cloud means that you don’t need to worry about updating your software for legislation or tax rate changes because you’ll always be using the latest version of the software when you log into the system. “You also won’t need to keep patching and updating the software yourself every time there’s a bug fix, security patch or new piece of functionality added to the software,” Cohen says.
“Our philosophy is not to adopt technology for its own sake, but to use it to help customers become more efficient and productive,” says Cohen. “And we will also keep looking beyond the technology at user experience issues, like how easy it is to navigate the software or how seamlessly it works with the other applications and tools you use in your working life.”