You may often hear about how important it is to convert to the cloud for bookkeeping. But what you don’t hear about as frequently is how to convert to the cloud. While accounting technology providers strive to make it easy with free trials, truly moving your business to cloud-based bookkeeping can be a task with many moving pieces that include preparation, education, conversion and the caring and feeding of your tech ecosystem.
You may find yourself asking questions such as: “Which cloud technology is right for my bookkeeping? What do I need to do to make sure that I’m getting all the benefits the technology promises? How can I make sure we are all using it correctly?”
In the past year alone, BBK has converted 100 small businesses to the cloud for bookkeeping. The businesses have ranged from tech startups to ecommerce to law firms to marketing agencies.
But the most significant accounting cloud conversion BBK had to make was its own.
In March of 2015, I re-evaluated the direction of my firm. BBK focuses on providing a strategic approach for our clients that hinges on real-time information, immediate access to all relevant documents and bookkeeping expertise that is only one call or tap away. Yet, portions of our operations were still tied to desktop solutions and even paper – all elements that degrade these principles.
We knew it was time to go all in. Here are the steps we took to convert to the accounting and bookkeeping cloud.
- Sell from the inside out: The most precious commodity during this transition was our bookkeepers. If they were excited and supportive about a complete conversion to the accounting cloud, they would serve as technology ambassadors for our clients. We were already using some cloud solutions, and the bookkeepers immediately that a full cloud conversion made sense.
- Plan and prepare: While we were eager to move entirely to the cloud, not all our clients felt the same. Perhaps they felt their desktop technologies did the job or they preferred working with paper. On the other end of the spectrum, we had many clients who were natural fits and loved the idea of on-demand access to their financial information. We set up a comprehensive communications plan and toolkits that addressed all segments of the spectrum so we could walk clients through the process step by step.
- Staff appropriately: We hired an onboarding specialist who handles the actual conversion process. This accelerates the process significantly, as the cloud bookkeeping specialist reviews the databases and creates online subscriptions. After the conversion, she pulls reports and compares them to the desktop reports, checks on apps and then notifies the bookkeeper when everything is ready to go.
- Examine your new client profile: We had to redefine what type of new client the firm wanted to work with. It didn’t make sense to convert to the cloud and then work with businesses that insisted on using (for example) paper checks.
- Parting ways with clients: I’m sure many business owners are wincing at this one. It’s never easy to turn away business. But we felt so strongly about the importance of bookkeeping in the cloud that we decided to refer businesses to other firms if they didn’t want to convert.
Overall, the firm has had great success by moving to the cloud. Almost 100% of our clients are converted. The process has made us a stronger, more tech-forward bookkeeping firm that has seen – and can handle – virtually any move to the accounting cloud. As a result, we’ve been honored as a Firm of the Future by Intuit and one of the top-50 accounting firms in the nation by Hubdoc.