In our data-driven economy, business clients are demanding the same levels of service and immediacy they get from consumer brands such as Amazon and Uber. So accountants have to keep up.
However, with HMRC’s personal tax computation software causing thousands of tax errors, many are sceptical about the ability to make all businesses file tax returns digitally. And, when you add failures in tech to rising client expectations, it’s no wonder that technology is one of the biggest challenges facing accountants today.
Despite these concerns, there’s no denying that tech is transforming accounting. And, with the new legislation underway, firms must do all they can to get ready.
At Cloud Geeni, we specialise in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) to accountants. We understand how accountancy firms work, and what they need to share and maintain information securely. And, in this short guide, we take a look at one of the technologies helping accountants to succeed – hosted desktops – and the benefits this can deliver to your firm.
What is a hosted desktop?
With a hosted desktop, employees turn on their devices and access all the files and programs they need. So it works the same way as a standard computer. The main difference is that, rather than being stored on a computer’s hard drive, all the files and programs you need are kept at a secure data centre and delivered over the internet.
Today, hosted desktops use SaaS (cloud-based services which are hosted off-site and delivered over the internet) to help accountants with a huge range of tasks. In fact, when it comes to the software can you run on a hosted desktop, you can access pretty much anything your accountancy firm needs.
How will a hosted desktop help your accountancy firm?
Hosted desktops deliver increased productivity, efficiency, flexibility, scalability, and resilience. With modern accountants using them to solve an increasing number of business challenges.
Get ready for digital tax accounting
Combining digital tax SaaS solutions with a hosted desktop is an excellent way to maximise your IT resources. However, while cloud-based accounting software is available, as yet it isn’t being used as standard. But, when it comes keeping systems up to date with changing tax legislation, any firms using tax applications that aren’t yet in the cloud should look to make the switch.
Become a modern accountant
A modern accountant is so much more a bean-counter. They provide insights, advise clients on how to improve their finances, and anticipate future trends. By bringing together processes and data, the hosted desktop lets you access files wherever you are. This enhanced management information leads to more informed decision making; to the benefit of your clients, and your firm.
What‘s more, the hosted desktop provides your accountancy firm with access to enterprise-level informational tools that may otherwise be out of reach.
Become more productive
With the hosted desktop, any information gained in meetings or at your clients’ premises can be sent straight over to your office. You can even search your database while in client offices. In fact, your accountants and support staff get access to everything they need, wherever they need it, on any device. This supports more flexible working practices and increases productivity.
Help your clients with digital tax accounting
Due to legislative changes, business users will need to get online and keep accurate records. With the hosted desktop it’s easy to share information securely with your clients; something that will become increasingly important as you collaborate with them to make sure their financial records are accurate and up to date.
Reduce administrative overheads
By streamlining operations and automating critical processes, the burden of admin is reduced. So, you’re free to focus on delivering enhanced customer service and revenue generation tasks.
Lead by example
In the face of digital transformation, tech is changing the way everyone does business. And, by the end of the year, it is predicted that more than 90% of small and medium-sized businesses will be using cloud accounting software.
This means your clients are going to want an accountant that understands how technology works. So, it makes sense for you to make the switch to the cloud now, and take the time to figure out how it adds value. Only then will you be able to advise on how best this technology can meet your clients’ unique needs.
Improve your bottom line
With no expensive hardware to buy, new users can be added and removed in hours with a pay per user pricing structure. And, the maintenance of your IT system is done remotely by your provider. Likewise, it’s easy to upgrade or add new software or applications to meet the changing needs of your firm. So your IT grows at the same pace as your accountancy business.
Keeping your clients’ books in the cloud means they’re never more than a few clicks away from a real-time view of their business. However, following the recent global cyberattack, data security issues have once again hit the headlines. So, a focus on security – at a network, device, and procedural level – is a must.
With the hosted desktop, all the latest software is in place, and disaster recovery is enabled. Firewalls, encryption, and other security measures are also deployed and checked on a regular basis – with the latest software fixes and security updates made automatically.
In fact, by automating back-up processes and ensuring your data is secure, the problem of lost emails, missing documents and accidentally deleted files become a thing of the past.
Things to consider before your accountancy firm moves to a hosted desktop
With a hosted desktop, your clients’ personal information, and other sensitive data, is held on a third-party server. So, here are just some of the things you must consider to ensure your firm continues to meet standards of professional conduct and regulatory compliance.
Will you comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA)?
While it is not a breach to pass client and other information to a cloud provider, you must ensure they comply with the DPA. This means (among other things) that they must meet established security levels, have sound processes for dealing with information, provide service level agreements, and have expected levels of backup and retrieval procedures. Data security can also be improved further by using a private cloud, or private area of a hybrid cloud for confidential material, and using software to encrypt documents automatically.
How quickly can you access your data?
You should be able to access your data from any networked device; with everyone in your firm able to retrieve all the real-time information they need. The right hosted desktop solution will also keep your data secure and backed up with best-in-class recovery processes. Ask your provider how quickly your information can be handed over on demand, what backup procedures are in place, and what would happen should a more severe outage occur.
Will your data be held in the UK?
The location of data centres has become increasingly important, particularly in the wake of Brexit; with many UK businesses now looking to switch to centres located in the UK.
Is your hosted desktop managed?
With a managed approach, industry experts look after your system all the time; helping to ensure that everything runs smoothly and quickly. For example, at Key Computing we provide 99.9% uptime for all cloud services. Managed desktop services also boast best-in-class backup and recovery processes.
It’s worth doing some research to make sure your hosted desktop partner offers a managed service that will meet your needs. For example:
- Take references from other accountancy firms
- Check service level agreements
- Check that the provider can offer audited information security that at a minimum is compliant with ISO/IEC 27001:2013
- Check that the provider can offer a level of guaranteed uptime and continuity protection that is acceptable to your business
- Ensure, where staff will be working on the move, that they have properly secured communication channels to protect security.
The right hosted desktop for your accountancy business
Understanding the IT challenges faced by accountants, our team delivers sophisticated cloud solutions for professional services companies that keep you profitable and compliant.
At Key Computing, our cloud server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, maximising safety and eliminating downtime. In fact, all our cloud server data centres are:
- Situated in the UK
- ISO27001 approved
- Security managed 24/7
- Fitted with fire detection systems.
- Kept at the optimum temperatures to ensure they do not overheat
- Supported by backup power supplies
- Fitted with the highest security firewalls
- Carrier neutral, ensuring connectivity access across all major networks.
To find out how a hosted desktop solution can help to deliver efficiency throughout your business processes – while protecting your sensitive client data – speak to a member of our team on 01942 263 434 today.