What you can’t see: why cloud-based financial apps work harder for you

By: Zhariff Melgoza , VP Marketing & Design
June 01, 2021 01:00 PM EST

It’s 2021, so it’s no surprise that 90% of CFOs and finance executives say reducing manual, time-consuming labor is a priority for this coming year. Sure, 90% is a whopping figure we don’t see a lot, but the digital transformation of finance and push to automation is nothing new.

Add a worldwide pandemic, unemployment crisis, and economic uncertainty to the equation and 90% starts to make a lot of sense. In fact, it even feels low.

So how can companies tackle this priority?

Finance is entering a golden age of technology, and it got here just in time. It’s safe to say nearly all companies have already adopted a software tool like QuickBooks Online or Xero for their accounting.

But why stop there?

The benefits of cloud-based software go well beyond just accounting, and you’ll want to take advantage of it for other financials like budgeting & forecasting as well. Here’s why:

1. Accurate, real-time data
means better reporting & analysis

Since the COVID-19 hit, CFOs are more frequently expected to deliver real-time, accurate, granular data to their CEOs and board members.

Using antiquated tools like Excel makes it impossible to quickly search for what you need, conduct audits, or make bulk changes on the fly. Instead, it requires long hours parsing through data, creating new reports, and sending out rogue files or documents that are difficult to keep track of.

Cloud-based software enables users to quickly pull together the exact data they need with just a few clicks, and they’ll (usually) generate the reports for you. Some apps even go a step further, and will generate your data into clean and comprehensible charts and graphs, like Budgyt’s Visualizations feature.

As far as accuracy goes, automated updates alleviate the issue of human error. If you have a trusted, secure software platform, you can rely on cloud technology to ensure your data is always exact.

Finally, some cloud-based financial apps—like Budgyt—separate  the driver based formulas between formula creation and input management.  Regular users only get to update the inputs while admins can build the formulas away from the user interface, which means you’ll never have to worry about a formula error leading to wrong data results. Not only will this keep you happy (and more importantly—sane), but your board will be impressed by your timely and trusted delivery.

2. It’s easy to get started

Here’s the thing. Even if you’re married to your system and feel it’s working just fine for you, you might regret not jumping on the software bandwagon sooner than you think.

In fact, 67% of CFOs and senior finance executives regret not making more investments into technology in the past 5 years.

In this last year, it’s become clear that all businesses need to be prepared for the unexpected, and intuitive software can provide the agility you need when faced with setbacks like lay-offs, remote working, cost re-allocation, or grant/fund re-allocation for universities and nonprofits. 

3. API integrations can link your software
tools for even more efficiency

Companies are rapidly adopting cloud-based applications to streamline every finance task in their organization: accounting, budgeting, forecasting, planning, payroll, T&E… the list goes on. You might be thinking, “If I adopt a different software tool for all of my processes, how does that make things any less complicated?

There’s an easy answer to that: API (Application Programming Interface). APIs are built to act as a link between two different software applications. They essentially talk to each other and exchange data so you can keep the two programs in sync. 

For finance apps, this means you don’t need to manually (and constantly) cross-check the data in your programs to make sure it’s the same. 

When you make changes or updates in one program, the API will automatically do the same in whatever application it’s connected to. 

APIs also make it easier to adopt a new software application, because it can pull data from an existing tool you already use.

If you already use a cloud-based finance app for accounting like QuickBooks Online or Xero, adopting another cloud-based software for a different task like say, budgeting, will not only make onboarding easier, but working with real-time data will make your budgets more accurate—and you’ll have the numbers to back it up.

Just be sure that whatever new tool you choose to adopt, it has an API to your existing accounting software.

(Psst: Budgyt recently launched a new Quickbooks Online API and is now listed in the Quickbooks App Store)

4. It shortens your to-do list

There’s a light at the end of your never-ending to-do list tunnel. By design, SAAS (software as a service) tools are built to automate tedious, time-consuming tasks. The more you use them, the smarter they get, and the easier it is to auto-populate data and quickly perform tasks on the fly.

We mentioned already how fast software makes reporting and analysis, but smaller one-offs and inquiries quickly add up too. Built-in functions like search and version control make it easy to seamlessly navigate your data and files, and the days of spending hours searching for the right file, or even line item, are a thing of the past.

It shortens your to-do list

Remember, we’re on the cloud here, and that means all your data is in one, single workspace. This not only means you can quickly find what you need, but it also empowers employees to contribute more and handle requests on their own. To ensure sensitive information remains secure and hidden, many software tools have user permission settings so employees only have access to what they need.

“You never want to give all employees access to QuickBooks Online,” says Katherine Machel, Director of Finance at Technology Access Foundation. “So Budgyt is the perfect tool to give them the data they need, without them being able to access everything. It’s taken a ton of inquiries off my lap.”

5. it saves you money

It’s simple math: less labor = lower cost. But even beyond the efficiency of software tools, storing all your data on the cloud can save you money in the long run. Server storage is pricey and comes with high maintenance costs and hefty annual fees. Cloud-based software is priced depending on usage, which means you’re never overpaying for anything you don’t need.

It saves you money

And here’s even more good news: finance technology and SAAS companies are growing really fast. Newer applications are actively trying to reduce the complexities and cost of their technology, while functionality gets even better. No longer do you have to choose between software priced in the hundreds of thousands, or an affordable option that just doesn’t do enough. With so many new applications introduced in just the last few years, you don’t have to sacrifice affordability for function—no matter the size of your company.

Final thoughts

final thoughts: a new cloud-based normal

You don’t have to understand what the cloud is to understand the undeniable benefits of it. It’s no longer the “future” of finance—it's here, alive and well. CFOs and senior finance executives who resist change could soon be seen as expendable, and potentially even replaced by the very technologies they denounced. The good news is there's still time to get started—just don’t put it off until it’s too late.