By Barbara Kroll* | The liberating effects of cloud-based accounting enable bookkeepers to be reintroduced to some of the more strategic activities, says Barbara Kroll, calling on some presidential messages to reinforce the argument for the cloud

Both in business, and in life, there’s a lot to be said for conforming to tried-and-tested approaches that have brought success in the past. But, as John Fitzgerald Kennedy once famously commented: "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."

It’s a shame then, that many professionals across the accountancy sector choose have struggled to evolve from the standard and familiar ways of working that once helped them to flourish – but that now only stifle commercial and personal growth. For many, it would seem, it’s difficult to break the mould. But why?

In the competitive and increasingly pressurised world of accountancy, practices and accounting professionals can no longer afford to be inmates at the Prison of Conformity. There’s a vibrant, exciting and stimulating marketplace out there that’s grappling with the real-world, real-time business challenges that the digital economy presents; it’s time to break the shackles and join it.

The most progressive companies – and indeed individuals – are those who aren’t trying to tackle today’s challenges with yesterday’s solutions, but are instead leveraging technology to accelerate progress and facilitate growth.

Right across the accountancy career life cycle -from managing partners and senior managers, to financial controllers and freelance bookkeepers- cloud-based accounting solutions are liberating individuals, transforming processes and driving growth.

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And it’s not just about the bottom line. Sure, cloud solutions can bring major operational efficiencies that drive profitability. They can automate processes, remove onerous and unnecessary data duplication and close the time gap between input and output.

True, the standardisation enabled by cloud-based methodology offers simplicity, accessibility and scalability that allow you to increase capacity and flex in line with customer acquisition and churn. And okay, cloud-based tools mean that you can double your client-base without needing to double your workforce.

This alone is a major benefit, whether you’re a sizeable practice with a burgeoning client list or freelance bookkeeper looking to grow your customer-base and service more clients; cloud brings the true benefits of scalability without the horror show of escalating costs.

But no, it’s not just about the bottom line.

Accounting in the cloud also provides a strong platform for staff satisfaction and personal growth. In practices where managing partners have given their managers and bookkeepers the tools to grow, the impact on morale, motivation and professional development can be marked. By automating, standardising and simplifying processes, professionals are released from the more mundane and sometimes mind-numbing basics of accounting, and freed to have a greater direct involvement with clients and provide a more consultative input.

For managers, the reduced administrative burden gives them greater time to provide added value in existing client relationships, and also to meet business development targets. For experienced bookkeepers, the cloud can help rejuvenate a working life that may have become bogged down by some of the drier aspects of professional accounting.

The liberating effects of cloud-based accounting enable bookkeepers to be reintroduced to some of the more strategic, consultative or client-facing activities, and to flourish in areas of strength that may have become dormant.

And for all parties, the cloud supports the growing trend towards remote and mobile working, allowing accounting practices to maintain productivity whilst also addressing the perennial challenge of work/life balance.

With employee engagement a major business priority in the modern marketplace, cloud accounting can certainly help tick that box. The fact that a happy, engaged and motivated workforce provides a further stimulus for commercial growth is just a happy coincidence.

So, despite age-old allegations of change resistance and an apparent determination to maintain traditional approaches, it’s hard to believe that companies and individuals across the accounting sector don’t want to grow. They do -they just don’t know how.

Conformity is indeed the jailor of freedom and the enemy of growth. It’s time to change. Can we do it? Well, from the poetic words of one iconic US President to the simple words of another: "Yes, we can."

The answer is in the cloud.

*Barbara Kroll is managing director of Twinfield UK