IT and online accounting software

The internet has been redefining the business world for the last 20 years, changing how companies communicate with their clients and utilise data to provide better services.

The world of business accounting is no different. 

The first online accounting applications emerged in the 1990s, in a world where broadband was expensive and costly. These undervalued and largely unused pioneers were important because they laid the groundwork for the online accounting software that we see today. 

With so many products claiming to be able to handle your accounting needs, what important things should you keep in mind when looking to move online?

Why use online software?

Accountants are known as being a prudent and cautious bunch, content to spend their days digging around in Excel spreadsheets. But many (including ourselves) are beginning to claim a number of potential benefits of using the latest online technology to help them deliver a better service for their clients.

Firstly, using online applications can make the tasks like bookkeeping, accounts production and payroll administration a lot easier for both accountants and their clients. Instead of having to ferry documents and shift through piles of forms, clients can input the relevant data at their end and it can appear in real-time at the accountants end.

This real-time link between the client and their practitioner can lead to positive gains in terms of productivity and flexible working. Documents can be filed during the morning train journey and meetings can be conducted anywhere with good wi-fi signal. Because it is possible to log in to a client’s accounts at any time, it is easier to spot emerging trends and give timely advice.

Working online can also save money as there is no longer the need to update expensive hardware. If you use applications based in the cloud, the obligation for storage, updates, security and maintenance are the provider's concern, not the customer's.


The marketplace for this kind of software is already loud and crowded, filled with companies extolling the virtues of their particular product. It can seem a little daunting to say the least.

The accounting software product that you should choose is dependent on what you need it to do. That may sound overly simplistic, but is important because while nearly every product will be able to handle basic bookkeeping, there is no solution that will be able to do everything.

First, you are going to need to draw up a list of your detailed requirements so that you can compare different packages. Some examples of the kind of requirements you may have are: 

  • the ability to import and export data from a range of other applications and systems 
  • smartphone compatibility 
  • the ability to take on more clients and caseloads as the business grows
  • the availability of add-ons and upgrades for customisation. 

Potential risks

While it may seem like internet software and business accounting are a match made in data heaven, it should be noted that there a potential risks and downsides.

Firstly, by choosing a cloud based application, you are tying yourself into a pretty heavy reliance on the internet. For most businesses ensuring that you are always connected should not be a problem, but most of us have experienced the ebbs and flows of internet speed and quality that come with being a paying customer.

Secondly, because you are no longer in control of the maintenance, storage, security and upgrading of your chosen application, changes to functionality and new version upgrades can potentially cause disruption. These considerations must be made in order to “future-proof” your choice and investment, to ensure that your chosen application doesn’t end up inhibiting your ability to grow your business and offer great services to your clients.

There is also a problem of how some clients are likely to view the move online. Despite the cloud company probably having a budget and expertise for data security that dwarfs what you would be capable of on your own, some clients may be reluctant to give you data online.

If you need any further advice or guidance on how technology can make managing your finances easier, you can call us on 01375 383 888, fill in our contact form or email

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