The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) recently conducted some research in the first half of July 2014 to try to determine what accountant practice attitudes were towards cloud-based accountancy software.

These findings will help to inform the agenda for a scheduled panel debate set to take place in October. 260 people took part in the survey which was conducted online.

With around 40 per cent of accountancy practices already using either Sage One or a cloud-based solution, there is a real awareness of the opportunities and benefits it brings. Out of the remaining two thirds of practitioners who have not yet made the transition to cloud, 8 out of 10 were aware of how online software would benefit their role.

Overall, a majority of 90 per cent believed that adopting a more ‘mobile working’ approach and utilising real time data would offer real advantages. The benefits cited are listed as:

  • Having improved data security
  • Option to move to subscription licensing and scalability
  • Automation
  • Lower costs for both hardware and software
  • Better working relationships with clients
  • Greater IT infrastructure control
  • Improved efficiency
  • The ability to work with ‘live’ real time data
  • The opportunity to work form various different locations

Just under half of respondents identified several different areas where they thought they could gain from expert guidance. These included:

  • Saving costs with cloud best practices
  • Managing security
  • Driving efficiency through the cloud
  • Driving profitability through business growth
  • Marketing to clients and potential clients
  • Migrating clients over to online solutions
  • Managing mobility

There are still quite a significant number (68 per cent) holding back with regard to switching over to a more online way of working, as they want to see some of the following options to be either improved or made available. These are:

  1. Management information solutions such as expert guidance on compliance and legislative issue
  2. Complex reporting solutions
  3. Final accounts solutions

Lastly, for all the recent touting of how more modern methods of communication are the way forward such as web chat and video calling, the perennially popular email is still the most preferred method of communication, favoured by 39 per cent. This is followed by the telephone at 22 per cent. It looks as if these more traditional ways of keeping in touch with clients are here to stay for a good while yet!

These findings make it clear that although there is a lot of interest in cloud-based software, and that most accountants are aware of the advantages it can offer, accountants still need to be assured that significant efficiencies can be gained and that their data is safe and secure