With the future of work changing rapidly, remote and flexible working are likely here to stay.
According to a CIPD survey of 2,000 UK companies (the professional group for human resources specialists), this new working model is likely to remain after the pandemic finishes. Most companies are planning to allow employees greater flexibility on where and when they do their jobs. Two-thirds of companies are developing a hybrid work model, where people spend only part of the time in the office.
As businesses adapt to new ways of working, they will expect suppliers and support services to evolve similarly. This could plausibly increase client expectations for accountancy practices, where anytime/anywhere accounting solutions will be seen as the standard approach.
In this post, we’ll look at how future-fit practices are using the cloud to support their clients. At Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting UK, we invest in technology that makes a difference – technology for the real world. In today’s fast-paced professional services landscape, the cloud can deliver new efficiencies, cost savings and standards of service.
How are future-fit practices using the cloud to support their clients in remote work?
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven the global workforce to accommodate a culture of remote and flexible working. At the same time, it has also acted as a catalyst for the next era of enterprise cloud adoption. In most practices, where clients are remote and face-to-face meetings are no longer an option, the cloud became the go-to solution to accommodate seamless digital engagement.
Many practices also learned, within their own remote working scenarios, that the cloud can provide flexible, secure and reliable access to client documents, data and software applications. Several practices that we have spoken to indicate that the move to digital transactional exchanges with clients (for example, document and data exchange, document signing and other exchanges) has been a welcome and efficient change on both sides.
The benefits of cloud-based client portals also seem to be widely recognised amongst practices. In particular, these include data security, digital signatures and integration with practices’ wider document management and archiving systems.
How modern practices are achieving new efficiencies and cost-savings with the cloud
Cloud infrastructure can support effective remote teams working within accountancy practices. We are now seeing a carefully considered appetite for the benefits of a well-designed and secure cloud-based client portal.
The most highly-mentioned benefits of these portals frequently include cost efficiencies and 24/7 data availability. Using the Internet to communicate with clients can quickly introduce cost savings. Storing data and running applications in the cloud ‘as a service’ can also prove very cost-effective. In addition, practices can scale their cloud use and services up and down as needed to meet their operational needs. It is therefore easy to see how the cloud presents such impressive cost efficiencies.
However, the economics of the cloud are also favourable when practices recognise the power of self-service. Many cloud-based accountancy platforms offer ‘plug and play’ dashboards to clients, where they can access much of their information independently. Clients may drill down into management information right from their own laptops, by accessing numbers remotely and interacting with this data.
We also see that having a centralised, 24/7 accessible repository of client information helps advisors to free up time. This means they could focus on more valuable tasks for their clients. In turn, this could lead to the provision of new advisory services and lines of business.
Future-fit practices deliver new levels of service with the cloud
In modern practices, it’s apparent that moving from on-premise to cloud solutions has become a key driver of sustainable innovation and competitive advantage. The collaborative benefits of the cloud are fuelling better customer engagement and accelerating many digital communication-based activities. This is demonstrably boosting business benefits and the bottom line.
For example, in the Cloud Industry Forum’s recent research paper, The Hybrid Working Revolution, respondents were asked what the business benefits of using the cloud during the pandemic have been. The top three answers were ‘allowed our business to be agile,’ ‘enabled us to scale appropriately,’ and ‘supported new business priorities.’
It’s clear that the operational efficiencies introduced by the cloud are helping to meet corporate goals more easily and quickly. Moving to the cloud also means streamlining and digitalising key processes to unlock dead billable time – as well as integration, consolidation and access from any device.
The evolution of the cloud journey for modern practices
Modern accounting practices are redefining business continuity. This demands efficient connectivity and workflows in today’s new remote working environment. The cloud is well-positioned to support UK practices as they navigate today’s changing economic conditions. It will act as the foundation for collaboration, as practices explore new ways to improve and diversify their future offerings.
Wolters Kluwer combines almost two centuries of deep domain knowledge with advanced technology – for professional decision-making with confidence. With so many businesses embracing permanent remote working in one form or another, many practices will be looking to take the next step on their cloud journey – demanding more from their infrastructure and cloud-based vision.