By Daniel Hunter

The International Data Association believes that 50% of all small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be using cloud accounting methods by 2016.

The online method, which allows businesses to track all of their expenses, conduct detailed reports, interact with qualified accountants if necessary and manage their taxes, is widely anticipated to be the future of all accounting processes in business, and experts are recommending that small businesses embrace the change sooner, rather than later.

Laurence Collins, Managing Director of Magic Accounts, a leading online accountancy service for small businesses, said: “All of our working is done in the cloud now, offering our clients access to real-time data that is up to the second in accuracy. Accounting efficiency has gone through the roof in recent years with the introduction of cloud storage systems, and we encourage all companies to adopt this revolutionary way of working, for the benefit of their accounts and their general cost-effectiveness as a functioning business.”

One of the biggest benefits of cloud accounting, whether using a software method or going through an online accounting service such as Magic Accounts, is the real-time access to files in a central hub that can be read at any time. Without being in the same room, or even in the same county, accountants and business owners can now work on the same file together, and any questions about finances can instantly be resolved, with reference to exact figures and statistics.

This level of improved contact between accountants is in stark contrast to historic accounting methods, where raising a query with an accountant often had to be done via an appointment, or through an email system that was undoubtedly burdened with hundreds of similar questions every day.

Cloud accounting options also offer businesses the capacity to make better decisions. Handling bookkeeping and accounts manually puts businesses at a distinct disadvantage. Realistically, businesses functioning in 2013 need instant access to their accounts, and the ability to monitor reports and statistics as they are processed. Using cloud accounting allows businesses to make prompt, effective decisions based on up-to-date figures, with advice from an experienced accountant if necessary.

The flexibility aspect is also a crucial advantage for those running a business in the modern day. On the long commute home and need to check that an invoice has cleared? Accounts can easily be accessed with a smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Find yourself with a few hours spare at the weekend and want to get a head start on your taxes? Accessing files from any computer has never been easier. Physically being out of the office is no longer an obstacle to running a business; indeed, there are a great number of stay-at-home entrepreneurs who have cultivate successful businesses with fully functioning books and accounts, all from the comfort of their home office.

The advantages speak for themselves where cloud accounting is concerned, and the message from the experts is to get involved or get left behind.

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