Accounting In The Cloud: Questions & Answers
More and more accounting firms are working remotely. And it’s no wonder why. There are so many benefits to remote work in the Cloud with web-based software applications.
Advances in cloud computing have eliminated the time and cost involved in physically working in the office. And remote accounting applications in the Cloud make it easy. They eliminate unnecessary travel back and for to the office, and even back and forth to visit clients because some cloud-based accounting solutions allow them to securely log in with your authorization and review their financials from wherever they are.
What are some accounting solutions that we can use remotely?
There are many that you can choose from. Some of our accounting clients in SE Texas use these three to work remotely in the Cloud:
- QuickBooks provides four levels of programs:
- QuickBooks Online Simple Start
- QuickBooks Desktop
- QuickBooks Self-Employed
- QuickBooks Accountant
- Sage50 provides three levels of programs for accountants:
- Sage 50cloud Pro Accounting
- Sage 50cloud Premium Accounting
- Sage 50cloud Quantum Accounting
- Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite is an integrated software and services application for tax and accounting professionals.
What are some of the benefits that other CPAs and accountants gain from working remotely in the Cloud?
- The Cloud allows them to work on their own schedule–where they want to work from, and at what time, day or night.
- It provides efficiencies that allow them to devote more time to their business and their clients.
- It’s a more secure way to store and access their firm’s and clients’ confidential information.
- It changes the game for how accountants interact with their clients with better collaboration and transparency.
- For the multi-office firm and for firms that have employees and clients in different locations, it allows everyone to access up-to-date documents from anywhere at any time, with real-time interaction.
- Working remotely with cloud solutions help the small accounting firm that is resource-challenged.
More accounting software products are moving to the Cloud. And opportunities to use these products remotely are increasing. They can help your firm save money and without the up-front and licensing costs of installing software. This allows small CPA firms to grow their business and compete with the big guys.
Is working remotely in the Cloud really secure?
We get asked this by accounting firms in SE Texas all the time. Not a day goes by that we aren’t asked this. The short and simple answer is…
“Yes… working remotely in the Cloud really is secure.”
In fact, the Cloud provides better security than storing files on servers and hard drives. Your data will be encrypted and accessible to only those you authorize. Your network won’t be exposed to hackers and viruses.
And with Mobile Device Monitoring from your IT service company, your employees can safely use their own phones and computers to access data in the Cloud from wherever they are.
How can our accounting firm ensure security when working remotely in the Cloud?
The key is to use an IT service company that specializes in secure cloud use for CPAs. It’s increasingly difficult for IT staff and employees to create and maintain safe environments in-house. Instead, they’re turning to IT companies that are capable of taking on the complex task of securing their data in a cloud environment.
What can you do?… Follow these six principles for IT security in the Cloud:
- Make sure that you have the proper IT management and cybersecurity structure in place.
- Your security IT policies must be up-to-date.
- Ensure that your IT system is remotely monitored for risks.
- Risk assessments and analysis can confirm that your IT is secure.
- Your IT system must be proactively managed.
- Operating system updates and software security patches must be applied as soon as they are released.
Is it better to store confidential accounting information in the Cloud?
Here are the reasons why we believe that storing your accounting data in the Cloud is a much better alternative than storing it onsite.
- Cloud providers continue to invest in the right security solutions.
- Cloud providers will continue to monitor your network.
- And cloud service providers take security seriously… from physical security, to who has access to the data center, and who can get access to the information online.
Can we maintain our clients’ confidentiality when working remotely in the Cloud?
Using cloud computing provides many benefits, including the ones we listed above. So you shouldn’t let security concerns keep you from using cloud services. However, you need the assurance that your data and your clients’ will remain secure.
Your IT service provider is the best resource for this. They understand the risks and benefits of different cloud services and the types that would best serve your needs.
They can work with you to review cloud service contracts to make sure your remote work for clients remains safe. They can help you ensure that:
- You’ll have confidentiality, security, and protection from unauthorized access or modifications.
- You’ll also have a robust backup and disaster recovery plan.
- The cloud service provides alternative access to data in the event of a service outage.
- The cloud service will inform you about any security breaches that may affect your data.
- You’ll be compensated in case actions by the cloud provider results in a security breach.
- The contract acknowledges that your accounting firm owns your data.
Your IT service provider is your trusted partner when it comes to using the Cloud and working remotely. They will also offer recommendations for additional security measures to ensure client confidentiality.
What should we look for in an IT Provider In SE Texas to help us work securely and remotely?
1. Can Your IT Provider Answer All Of Your Questions About The Cloud?
Avoid working with service providers who are unclear about exactly what cloud services provide and the cost for this. Any reputable provider should be able to answer all of your questions to your satisfaction. This can prevent you from getting involved with a company that may not offer the highest level of secure service that your accounting firm requires.
2. Will Your IT Be Stored In High-Security Data Centers?
As you know, secured data centers combine high-tech safeguards with the latest in server room controls. This prevents the theft of equipment while providing the best protection against fire and heat. You’ll know that your clients’ data is:
- Protected by stringent levels of physical security.
- Monitored 24/7.
- Housed in buildings designed explicitly for high-tech networking equipment with suppression systems that won’t engage sprinkler systems on equipment in case of fire.
The right IT provider can ensure that your information is replicated in multiple data centers. Some cloud services only have one or two. Also, make sure they provide geo-tracking capabilities, so you won’t worry about bandwidth, and that your data will always be easily accessible and recoverable.
3. Can You Be Assured That The Best Safeguards Are In Place?
If a hacker holds your data for ransom or an employee accidentally deletes your computer files, the right IT provider will ensure that you can get back up and running quickly. They will specialize in preserving data and retaining control over ever-evolving security risks.
4. Will They Work With You To Ensure IT Security In The Cloud?
When you use applications in the public cloud, you must ensure that your data remains secure. The right IT provider will ensure that the cloud environment you use is built with the proper security controls to keep attackers out. Having a partner that can deploy and manage your cloud solutions and will work with you on this, ensures best practices in cloud security.
5. Encryption Is Critical.
Always make sure that your cloud storage service offers local encryption for data. This provides double security because files must be decrypted to gain access. Encryption keeps data from anyone including service providers and administrators. Taking this small preventive measures can ensure that your accounting firm’s most sensitive information remains highly secure.
6. Are They Going To Take Responsibility For Securing APIs & Auditing?
Although you control your data, the cloud service must provide for these security measures, including:
- Security by design.
- Source code analysis.
- Vulnerability and Security Tests.
- Secure deployment.
- Protection against threats during use.
7. What’s Included Their Contracts & Agreements?
Most IT service providers now require service Level Agreements (SLAs). These outline the services that you receive, including your cloud services. Your SLA should clearly describe how your provider will handle your data including confidential records in the Cloud.
So, let’s ask again… should you work remotely in the Cloud?
Yes. You can do things like process your clients’ payroll from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. You can do things like process payroll in a fraction of the time that is required when using traditional desktop financial software.
Plus, you can make tax deposits, and file tax returns electronically faster and more accurately than with conventional processes. And your clients can the data you provide simultaneously with you.
When working remotely, you won’t be taking files from the office that can get lost or be stolen.
And, you’ll save time by working remotely in the Cloud. You and your staff can work where and when you need to. And as you know, time is money.
Don’t believe the rumors and myths about cloud security. With trusted Beaumont IT support, moving to the Cloud and working remotely can provide your accounting firm many benefits.
Are you looking for more information about working remotely in the Cloud? Visit our Blog.