tax accounting in the cloud
tax accounting in the cloud

Creating your cloud workflow: Why it’s more secure and productive

Read the Article


Any discussion about moving from a desktop to a cloud workflow is no longer focused on what it is as much as what it can do to speed your tax firm’s productivity. Just because you’re using desktop tax software such as Intuit® ProConnect™ Lacerte® or ProSeries® doesn’t mean you can’t work in the cloud.

When your processes are in the cloud, you can improve your client experience. After all, taxpayers are looking for convenience and want information accessible instantly. Think about what the cloud can do for you.

  • It saves space. For years, I boxed up all the returns to keep for several years in storage. Now, the only purpose my file cabinets serve is to display office decor.
  • It improves accessibility. When you no longer have physical file folders in the office, you can access data anytime, anywhere.
  • It enables collaboration. When all of your clients’ tax information is in a client portal, you can improve team collaboration, especially for a team that is remote. You aren’t limited to having workers in a local office.
  • It costs less. When everything is in the cloud, you can save money on paper, ink cartridges, copiers and repairs.

Long gone are the days when you call a travel agent to book a flight for our next vacation; the same is true for tax and accounting. Everything is going digital – and if you don’t keep up, you may be left behind.

Put Aside the Doubts

In transitioning your firm to the cloud, you’ll need to overcome four hurdles.

#1: Cloud security. Some clients and employees are comfortable using the cloud instead of having physical documents, while others are uncomfortable with cloud storage, especially when they hear about security breaches at large, well-known companies. However, what you don’t hear is that rather than getting hacked, these companies had security breaches due to human error.

To overcome this hurdle, educate yourself and prepare. Encrypted data, passwords, firewalls, malware and antivirus software can support a paperless environment. Never give out your wireless password to even the occasional client who comes by your office. Be on alert for emails that arrive saying a new client needs several years of tax returns and “click here” to access W-2s.

#2: Personal mindset. This was the largest hurdle for me because I didn’t understand how the cloud worked, and I could not visualize how our firm could manage without a physical file folder for each client.

#3: Fear of losing documents. When you have a physical file folder, all the papers go in that file, but in the craziness of tax season, how can you ensure you have all the documents together when the client emails, faxes and drops off documents over any period of time? The solution is twofold. First, set up a solid process so all documents are saved to the client portal, and second, make sure your portal is backed up.

#4: Getting clients on board. The best way to get your clients in the cloud is to show them the value and benefits. We live in a world that emphasizes convenience and rapid access to information, so it is an incredible advantage for clients to be able to access their information anytime, 24/7. Start slowly, and test the new method with clients who love and appreciate you. They will give you honest feedback and be forgiving as you figure out the ideal process.

I’m sure there are more benefits to moving your practice from desktop to the cloud than just these four, and every practice is different. Evaluate your own processes and determine the best way to make the transition based on your needs, staffing and client acumen. I made the transition several years ago and never looked back!

7 responses to “Creating your cloud workflow: Why it’s more secure and productive”

  1. Renee,
    What is the current annual fee for storage when that is the only service required? I realize that future fees may be different. Just trying to get an idea of costs.
    Thank you,

  2. How do I access the data in the cloud after I close my business and want access to a file 3 to 5yrs old?

    • Hi Robert — if you closed your business and had paper files to archive, would you pay for storage? How secure would that be? What if a break-in or a fire were to occur? Fortunately, cloud storage is affordable. Knowing that accountants are required to maintain their records for a certain length of time, I feel safer knowing that my data is stored in the cloud rather than in a location that could be vulnerable to a physical catastrophe.

  3. Desktop keeps information at our fingertips just as well. We use a client portal for those who live out of town and need to give us missing documents without driving back to town… but most of our clients prefer to swing it by when offered both choices. I also feel more in control of security when I am monitoring it than in the cloud where I have no control. I am hesitant to believe it is more secure.

    • Hi Trish, research has shown that cloud data tends to be more secure than locally stored data because it uses more complex security methods than the average computer owner can implement. When we used to keep paper files in the office, I was always concerned about a potential physical break-in. All it would take would be a smashed window and a lock pick to steal our computers and open our file cabinets, exposing our clients to a massive data breach. With cloud storage, I take comfort in knowing that, not only is all of my data encrypted to GLBA standards, but it is also backed up in the event of a system failure.

  4. It seems like you are forgetting that some of us are still trying to figure out cloud. AND LOTS of clients still like paper and pencil (ink?) as well. Also, in the country, if one get a speed of 10 whatevers, we are doing high speed internet.

    • Hi Arlene, it’s understandable that in some areas, internet limitations might prevent you from being able to make the transition to the cloud. It’s important to take into account operating limitations when considering making the transition to a different type of data storage method.