Benefits of Cloud Computing for Small Business Finance Functions

Posted by Tim Hird and John Reed.

Similar to the desktop computing revolution of the 1980s and 1990s, cloud computing is transforming how business today gets done — and at organizations of all sizes.

In the latest Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), more than half of U.S. financial leaders said their companies are either already taking advantage of the cloud in their businesses (24 percent) or plan to do so soon (27 percent).

Small businesses have been a little slower to make the move, according to the report: Just over half (54 percent) of these firms still opt to keep all of their data in-house. However, the tide is turning, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small business owners to ignore the potential benefits of the cloud.

Here are just few ways that cloud computing can enhance small business operations:

1. Cost reduction

A key advantage of cloud computing is cost savings. And as your business grows, you can expand your use of cloud services — without extra hardware purchases and with little or no software costs.

The cloud helps small businesses to preserve office resources, too. That’s why many companies — of all sizes — now choose to outsource their payroll and tax duties using cloud-based computing systems. Software-as-a-Service solutions also use the cloud for departmental applications like human resources management software.

2. Simplified information sharing

One chief financial officer interviewed for the Benchmarking report said that, for accountants, “the spreadsheet cannot be beaten” when it comes to technological tools. “There will always be a place for some type of worksheet tool to capture data and convert it into actionable information,” the CFO said.

However, the spreadsheet doesn’t necessarily have to reside locally. If you want to make it easier for your staff to share information using the tool they love most, you can still look to the cloud for a solution.

For example, Microsoft SharePoint provides complimentary cloud-based services, including spreadsheets, for creating recurring reports. And the Office Online suite or a file storage service like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Docs and Apple’s iCloud Drive can make collaborating on shared spreadsheets and documents much simpler, too.

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