Hand holding up a tablet with a digital cloud above it

What is cloud-based accounting?

July 15, 2021

Think about the services you use every day. Netflix and Spotify for streaming films, TV shows and music; Dropbox, iCloud and Facebook for storing and sharing photos; Zoom, Skype and Slack for communicating with friends, family and work colleagues.

What do they all have in common?

All of these services are cloud-based applications. To access them, all you need is a stable internet connection and a compatible device, and you're good to go.

Accounting software has also kept pace with these technological advances. You no longer have to install an accounting program to your laptop and carry it around with you everywhere you go. Instead, you can now access your accounting system through the cloud – from any device, on any web browser, wherever and whenever you need it.

What is cloud accounting software?

Cloud-based accounting software is a means of accessing, updating and recording your finances on a system that you access over the internet (otherwise referred to as online accounting software). The software is hosted on remote servers and all data is stored on the cloud, meaning you can access it from multiple devices and have more than one user working on the account at the same time.

Before the introduction of cloud-based accounting, the only options for business owners who wanted to do their own accounts were to either install software to specific desktop computers or laptops and be limited to using that one device, or to do their calculations manually on a spreadsheet. However, managing your business finances no longer has to be a chore. Cloud accounting solutions have made doing your business accounting a lot easier and far more efficient – with Ember going as far as to let you be able to manage your accounts at the touch of a button.

How does cloud-based accounting software work?

Cloud accounting systems are managed entirely online, with secure encryption meaning your data is safely stored and can only be accessed with your login details and password. 

The most common form of cloud accounting software is SaaS, or 'Software as a Service', where users benefit from ongoing security upgrades, immediate software updates and the ability to connect and integrate to other online applications, such as bank accounts. 

Let's take a more detailed look at how cloud-based accounting software can benefit you. 

The benefits of cloud accounting services

Access it any time

Perhaps the biggest drawback of traditional accounting software is that you have to install the product on your desktop or laptop and then use the same device any time you want to manage your finances. With a cloud-based accounting system, you can work on it from your desktop in the office, on your tablet on the train home or through a mobile app on your phone when on the go. 

Add multiple users

If there is more than one person in your business managing the finances, you can each have a login and access information that always shows the real-time view. 

Think about the complexity of using a traditional accounting system with another person when you aren't in the same building. You need to manually download the files onto your hard drive and email them across for the other person to see what you're up to.

With cloud accounting software, you don't have to worry about that at all. You can have staff based in a different office, or working remotely on the other side of the world, making data entry far less time-consuming and far more efficient.

Protection and security 

Imagine that every time you access and update your accounts the details are locked away in a bank. That's the level of protection you get with cloud-based accounting software. Your data is stored on servers in data centres and can only be accessed with your login details and password.

Unlike traditional accounting software, there is no risk of your data being corrupted or lost. If you have a fault with your desktop then you don't need to re-install the software again; instead, simply sign in to your online account on another device.

With cloud-based software, you also benefit from using the latest version of the product. You don't have to spend time manually installing an update file as all updates are automatic. The only effort you might have to put in is clicking a prompt from the app that there is a newer version ready to install.

Information updated automatically

Say goodbye to having to back up your data or download your accounts to a disc or USB. Every time you record a transaction the data is automatically updated in real-time. This means if you have a business partner and you are both working on the accounts you can instantly see the changes that have been made, cutting down the risk of duplication. 

If you integrate it with a banking account you can also see all incoming and outgoing payments. Let's say you have a pitch with a potential investor. With traditional accounting software, you might have to spend time adding all of your expenses and payments to provide the current financial picture. With cloud-based accounting software, your financial information feeds in straight away. All you have to do is login to your account to get the latest position.

Where Ember differs...

Not all cloud-based accounting software is created equal. Lots of software is still expensive and requires a thorough understanding of accounting practices, which can take up a lot of your valuable time. At Ember, we like to keep things simple. As well as offering all of the above benefits, here is how we can help you further.

Save time

Using 'traditional' accounting software can be very time-consuming, as even though you are using a computer system it's still a manual process. For instance, take categorising your transactions. For expenses alone, you might have 20 or 30 different categories you use to assign to items. Working through a week's worth of expenses can take up a big chunk of your time. 

Fortunately, Ember automatically categorises your financial data for you, and the same is true for generating reports and financial statements. All you need to do is click a button we'll automate it for you.

Reduces the need for paperwork

Wave goodbye to the piles of paper receipts currently lining your desk. Simply take a picture of your receipts or invoices and load them up to Ember in seconds, making your financial management a breeze.

You won't even need to spend time filling out your tax returns – we can calculate your sums and submit them to the tax office for you.

Be ready for Making Tax Digital

The first phase of Making Tax Digital (MTD) was introduced by HMRC in 2019 but there are further phases planned through to 2023.

MTD was introduced by HMRC as a way of streamlining how the tax system works, with the aim of making the process more efficient and easier for people to pay their taxes. This involves making it a requirement to keep digital records and use accounting software to submit tax returns.

Making Tax Digital for VAT has already been launched, with businesses that have a taxable turnover above £85,000 required to digitalise their records and submit VAT returns through accounting software. Future deadlines include MTD being compulsory for all VAT registered businesses and self-employed taxpayers with business or property income above £10,000.

If you are a business that turns over more than £85,000, then using Ember can save you a lot of time by submitting your VAT return directly from your bank in a matter of clicks. Even if you are operating below the threshold now, it is worth getting prepared for MTD in 2022.

With Ember, you get a whole host of clever features combined with a simple interface and the added benefit of 24/7 support from a team of expert accountants. Our cloud-based accounting software will:

  • automatically categorise your transactions
  • connect to your bank so you can see all of your payments
  • run payroll
  • provide reminders when you need to submit your taxes

We can also optimise pay-outs and help you incorporate your limited company. All for only £39 a month.

Managing a business is tough enough without added complications. Our software is simple and easy to use, providing you with more time to focus on running your business.

Join us in creating the new age of accounting.

Simple language, simple software, so that you can spend less time dealing with admin and more time focusing on what really matters.

Daniel Hogan

Daniel is a Deloitte-trained, fully qualified Chartered Accountant with experience in the finance software space. It was during his tenure managing a finance system in the UK that he grew dissatisfied with the lack of synergy and automation in the space, compelling him to co-found Ember.