It wasn’t that long ago that SMB accounting software resided on a PC – and only on a PC. Today, with more than 1.3 million Intuit QuickBooks® users alone now accessing its online version, cloud computing is an accepted technology for streamlining the process of everyday financial-oriented tasks. When coupled with mobile devices, the cloud offers the freedom of anywhere/anytime availability that can be hugely beneficial to in-house financial teams as well as consultants.

According to a benchmark study conducted earlier this year by the Cloud Accounting Institute, the rate of cloud adoption continues to grow. Nearly 75 percent of respondents said they are now using the cloud for accounting or financial management, an increase of 43 percent over the last year.

Arguably, small businesses have the most to gain from this transition to cloud computing, particularly as it best enables the use of mobile devices. Mobile technologies will play a key role in amplifying the cloud’s usefulness by enabling accountants to exchange information with their teams and/or clients on demand, 24×7. Being able to access critical data from anywhere, record transactions directly onto a mobile device and have them sync to a cloud-based accounting system are huge time-savers.

As a side note, small businesses usually have limited time and/or personnel to deal with IT issues like data storage, upgrading software and server maintenance. Cloud computing shifts these tasks to the service provider and can result in enormous time savings by enabling small businesses to concentrate on their business and customers, instead of on IT needs.

But engaging with one of the dizzying array of potential cloud and mobile solution providers can be a daunting task for anyone and any business. So if you are just now exploring how to migrate to the cloud and provide access to employees and clients via mobile devices, here are two ideas to consider:

  1. Establish BYOD policies. Today, at least 30 percent of accounting firms have generic Bring Your Own Device policies for employees. Staff members already have smartphones and tablet computers; make it easy for them to use these devices on the job – but have regulations in place that align and support the corporate environment. The traditional office boundaries are vanishing, and BYOD is one way to enable employees to easily check emails, work off-site or at home.
  2. Select a cloud technology that allows for mobile device flexibility. Your customers and staff already own mobile devices. Make it easy for them to use the device they are most comfortable with to access and share critical documents via the cloud.

Moving to the cloud and enabling mobile devices to access needed information anywhere, anytime will not only erase some business headaches, it will prepare your operations for future technological improvements while adding to the bottom line through more efficient accounting practices.

(Michael Callan, CPA is the co-founder of Seattle-based Swizznet, the premier QuickBooks hosting and online accounting solution provider. He can be reached at [email protected].)