Four Ways to Use the Cloud to Save Money Running Your Tax Accounting Practice
There is quite a bit of hype in business journals about using the cloud to run your practice. Both sides of the argument seem to be valid. To help you make an informed decision, I am going to break down what the cloud is and why it may offer you a way to save money running your business.
Basically, when you use the cloud, you use a web browser to access software that is loaded on a remote server. So instead of managing your own internal network, you are renting the software. The cloud is accessible anywhere you have a web connection. All you need is a fast and dependable Internet connection like Verizon FIOS.
So who would distrust this system?
Well, network administrators sure do. They no longer have security patches to load to your network, install updates to your software, implement patches for Microsoft Exchange, etc. They may use scary “security” or “up time” concerns to keep you from changing.
But let's be real. Whose network is more secure3/4a quality software package hosted at a vendor like Rackspace, or your local network? If you answered Rackspace, you are correct. It is more up-to-date with the latest security patches, firewalls, back-up equipment, power supplies, redundant servers, and so on. Rackspace can remotely update its software and apply bug fixes, providing you with the latest features at less cost.
Here are four of the easiest cloud solutions for CPA and tax accounting firms that can be ready in time for next tax season.
VOIP Telephone/Fax Services - Voice-over IP (VoIP) is a type of phone system that uses an Internet connection, rather than a traditional phone line, to transmit voice traffic. One of the most popular reasons for choosing VoIP is cost savings: VoIP service plans are typically less expensive than traditional phone system costs, systems require minimal maintenance, and costs are assessed as a monthly rate only3/4no long-distance charges are applied when you use a VoIP system. VoIP service provides standard features like voicemail, caller ID, and call waiting, as well as advanced features like video conferencing, call tracking, and online system management. With advances like soft phones, you can run your calls through your own computer or mobile phone, thus making the traditional phone obsolete.
Secure Document Sharing and Messaging - Protect your clients and your firm with secure file transfers without the cost of an IT department. Simple, secure and convenient, services like the ClientWhys Lockbox are built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of tax and accounting professionals. Better yet, the Lockbox will help you comply with new regulations governing client privacy and email. By storing all of your client communications within one portal, you can have a complete view of your client communications.
Virtual QuickBooks - Companies like Swizznet.com can help you connect and collaborate from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection by means of a QuickBooks® virtual desktop without the cost and hassle of having to set up and maintain your own network infrastructure.
Office Productivity with Google Apps - With Google Apps, all your work is automatically saved in the cloud. You'll have access to your email, calendar, documents, and sites and be able to work securely, no matter where you are in the world and what device you're on. For your business, this means every employee and everyone you work with can be productive from anywhere, using any device with an Internet connection.
All four of these cloud solutions are cost-effective and will save you thousands of dollars by reducing phone charges and postage, office supply and travel expenses, and the cost of maintaining a Microsoft-based server network.
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Lee Reams II
I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.