The Accountant’s Guide to Cloud Software for Small Business Clients
Learn About the Best Tools, Add-ons and Integrations
With cloud computing rapidly becoming the norm for small business owners, accountants need to more than ever provide valuable insight and direction.
The explosion of Software-as-Service (SAAS) businesses in recent years has led to an overwhelming number of options for small business. This article will help you to understand and discern the best tools and the integration options available for your small business customers.
Trend towards best-of-breed solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer the norm.
As we discussed in our last article, there is a trend towards best-of-breed solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer the norm. Small business owners are looking for solutions that fit their business and aren’t interested in the extra bloat that often comes with all-in-one packages.
The Financial Foundation
When looking at the foundation of your small business’ finances, we understand the importance of the accounting system. To harness the power of using the accounting platform as a hub, it’s important to move to a cloud based platform such as Xero or Quickbooks Online.
The Pinch Points Your Small Business Clients Face
We’ve put together a high-level overview of the different categories of apps that you could be exploring for your small business customers. These areas have been divided into the following:
IV. Products & Services
Here are some common cloud-based apps to help you get started with your research.
Finance addresses everything related to financial data in the small business. It’s really at the core of the small business and one that should be focused on initially.
An online cloud based accounting package provides the opportunity for many connection points to other business applications used by small business.
2. Expense Tracking
Expense tracking can be important for small business owners that have multiple employees, and/or clients that require billing of project based expenses.
3. Cash Flow and Forecasting
Cash flow management and planning is an important consideration for companies with irregular cash flow. Cash flow apps may integrate with existing accounting platforms.
eCommerce channels continue to grow in popularity for small business and barriers to entry continue to decrease. Online payment processing is also an important consideration.
Many small businesses need to invoice clients and accept payments easily. Sending invoices by email and accepting online payments can reduce aging receivables.
Sales is the lifeblood of any business and the challenges for small businesses can vary. Here are the more common areas:
6. Sales Intelligence & Tracking
Understanding and tracking sales opportunities helps to reduce uncertainty for small business owners.
7. Point of Sale
Point of Sale systems help small business owners provide a smooth retail experience for their customers and make taking payments a snap.
8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Up-to-date information in a centralized location helps small business teams to improve customer service and increase sales opportunities.
10. Contract Management
Managing client contracts is important to avoid duplications and errors.
11. Accounts Receivables Management
Managing accounts receivable is key to a small business staying in the black. There is software that can help manage aging receivables and improve payment by clients.
12. Donor Management
Managing donors and events is a critical task for non-profits. Specialized donor management systems are often similar to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems but have some specific features that may better-suit a non-profit organization.
13. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation tools can be an important component for increasing traffic to a business website and increasing the number of prospects that the business may serve.
When looking at managing people effectively in small business you should consider the following:
Reducing payroll management helps small business owners stay focused on their small business.
15. Meetings & Webinars
Connecting with clients and suppliers online can help reduce travel costs and increase efficiency.
16. Time Tracking
Project-based businesses require a detailed understanding of employee time to invoice accurately and analyze project profitability.
17. Collaboration & Team Communication
Internal collaboration is an important way for small business employees and teams to move projects forward.
18. Resource Scheduling
Managing employee schedules and their availability to work on projects is important to avoid cost and schedule overruns.
IV. Products & Services
Service companies form the backbone of small business and the needs may vary greatly depending on the type of service business. Apps to help in this area include:
19. Project Management
Project management tools are important for many professional service and project based service businesses. Project management tools can range from simple task based tools to professional service automation (PSA) SAAS apps.
20. Professional Services Automation
Many professional service companies want an all-in-one solution to manage their people, documents, projects and finances.
21. Subscription Management
Subscription management tools that integrate with various payment processors are becoming more popular with the increase in recurring service business models.
22. Field Services Management
A Field service management (FSM) system combines hardware and a cloud-based service to enable companies to manage their resources, including vehicles, workers, job activity, schedule and dispatch workers, and even integrate with inventory and financial systems.
23. Productivity and Workflow
Productivity and workflow software is built to help save a user time by automating routine tasks, such as data entry and email filtering.
24. Customer Service / Help Desk
Small business may require a more formalized customer service or help desk system to manage customer feedback, complaints and returns.
Cloud-based inventory software tracks inventory levels, orders, sales and deliveries. It’s also often used in the manufacturing industry to create a work orders, bills for materials and other production-related documents.
Proposal management can help reduce time spent on proposals and standardize proposal development
Managing financial and small business data can range from simple to complex. The more common data pinch points centre around:
28. Business Intelligence & Reporting
Reporting and reporting dashboard improve the visibility of data in a small business.
Cloud-based storage increases to decrease in cost with many small business owners turning to this solution vs onsite storage solutions.
30. Document Management
Storing small business documents in the cloud can improve collaboration and reduce IT costs.
Website analytics is important for small business websites to improve decisions regarding site visitor behaviour.
32. Asset Management
Asset management systems monitor and track things assets, such as equipment and buildings through to assets such as human capital and intellectual property. IT Asset Management is one of the most common needs, tracking software and hardware in a business.
33. Enterprise Resource Management (ERP)
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business-management software that a business uses to collect, store, manage and interpret key data from different business activities. These tasks often include product planning, purchases, manufacturing, inventory and delivery in an integrated system.
35. Backup, Disaster Recovery
Online systems used to not only back up key files and resources but to help get the business back up and running quickly.
Software Review Sites
Here are some resources for researching your options and reviewing the ratings:
Disclaimer: We’re not recommending these tools and aren’t making any warranties but we think this may be a good place to start.