Old way versus the new way
Old way versus the new way

The tipping point on moving to the cloud

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The tipping point has come for tax pros and accountants to move to cloud-based products, according to the responses from the 2016 National Management of an Accounting Practice Survey. The survey found that the use of cloud services by CPA firms has grown since 2014, with 56 percent of all firms stating that they use cloud-based software, up from 48 percent in 2014 and 29 percent in 2012. In the Future of the Cloud Computing Survey, 90 percent of respondents reported that cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) are the most popular technologies, with seven in 10 companies indicating they use some sort of cloud functionality.

Many accountants are starting to see the benefit of the cloud and the ability to tie tools and applications together – and you don’t need survey results to see the increased usage by accountants of cloud-based products. QuickBooks® Online (QBO) has increased to more than 2 million subscribers as of April 30, 2017, with more than 350,000 coming in last quarter.

Every major vendor in the accounting space has created cloud platforms for accountants and to market the benefits. Now, it is up to us as accountants to determine which tools are right for us, saving us time, as well as making us more efficient.

Last year, I migrated to Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online from Lacerte® for many reasons, including the “Book to Tax” functionality within QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA). The difference has made the preparation of my business returns much easier and accurate. I can complete most of the detail of the tax preparation right on my Trial Balance within QBOA, allowing me to do all my journal entries and then pressing a button to put it on the return. By working both ends within the cloud, I have no connectivity issues, and no need to be tethered within an office. Desktop software has its place, but it is much more difficult to connect different tools together, usually requiring network or virtualization ware.

Technology is the great disruptor in the accounting and tax space, and new tools are being created at a rapid pace. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making what we used to do by hand automatic – but, of course, we always need to review the results. New firms tend to choose cloud tools at the start of their practice because of the scalability and low cost-of-entry. We keep referring to it as “cloud,” but it is really a combination of the internet and the use of mobile devices to give us 24/7 access to real-time information. When they call, my clients’ information is always at my fingertips and I have access to my research tools to look up answers.

I can be my clients’ trusted advisor. The cloud allows me to automate functions I previously did by hand and pull data in quickly. My clients’ accounting information is automatically gathered via apps from within the QuickBooks Ecosystem, and I can create dashboards to monitor my clients’ KPIs that are automatically updated. There are various tools, including Hubdoc, Bill.com, Expensify and TSheets, to capture information and automate the process on the front end. On the back end, LivePlan, Qvinci and others do the strategic planning and dashboarding. Once it is all set up, the automation moves the data in and out of the QBO platform.


This process has made it easier to gather the information necessary to prepare tax returns in the cloud. An added bonus is that I don’t have to worry about the backing up of data. The data in ProConnect Tax Online is protected by Intuit with the same back-level security used to protect QBO files. I can also manage my tax workflow within QBOA. I can see all my clients and what I need to do for them in one spot.


The cloud has made my disparate functions work together. I can click on a tax return and immediately be placed on my data entry field.


Every day, there is a new tool being released to automate the flow of data. For example, Intuit Link makes it easy for your clients to get you the exact tax data you need, when and how you want it, so that you can focus on what matters most. I can go on and on and describe the benefits of the cloud, as well as how it connects data and improves workflow and automation, but the time is now for accountants to check out the tools they want to use as they move forward into the next tax season and beyond.

David Bergstein, CPA.CITP, CGMA

David Bergstein, CPA.CITP, CGMA, is a thought leader in technology issues such as wireless, paperless workflow, apps, cloud and mobile at the Accounting Firm. David has been in the accounting industry for many years and has been a practicing accountant since 1966. While at the IRS he held various positions, including agent, trainer, speaker and technical chief. He received his CPA and a Masters in Taxation from Long Island University’s CW Post College. He was an accounting professor at Suffolk County Community College in New York for more than 15 years. He blogs on technology and new ideas in the global information industry, and has a strong Twitter following. He hopes to help CPAs understand the true power of Intuit’s offerings that allow them to become strategic advisors to their clients and increase their revenues and niche specialties. In 2011, he was the recipient of the ”On the Edge” Innovation Award from the Leading Edge Alliance, which recognizes industry leaders for their vision and significant contributions to the accounting profession. In 2012, he received the "Brand Ambassador" award from Enterprise Worldwide. Specialties: Please contact him if you are looking for a speaker for your group on growing and automating your accounting practice, the future of the accounting profession or top tech tools. You can find David on Twitter @DavidBergstein. More from David Bergstein, CPA.CITP, CGMA

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