Accounting is a broad set of practices aimed at organizing financial information of a company, including sales to clients, procurement, assets depreciation, etc. in a manner appropriate for adequately managing corporate finances, filing required papers, etc. Today this line of services deals with minimum printed papers or entirely dispenses with them. Hard copies have been replaced by electronic documents. Computers, mobile devices, the Internet and remote access are the technologies involved. Let us take a look at how remote access software can be used (and is increasingly being used) by accountants. As of now, accountants have been doing their work electronically for decades, using computers and mobile devices. Even if some reports have to be on paper, the documents are designed and printed on computer, using generic spreadsheet processors like Microsoft Excel or more specialized accounting software.
Every time an accountant uses a PC or a mobile device, they may encounter software or hardware issues. While huge companies have in-house IT departments, self-employed entrepreneurs often resort to “computer guys” for computer help. Earlier on, before networks and the Internet have become ubiquitous, in situ attendance was required. Today no such bounds exist. The Internet and intranets provide the ability to quickly access remote machines and fix many problems without the needs to travel in situ. At least, this applies to the problems, when the affected system can be accessed remotely. To fix such issues, remote desktop and remote access software is widely used (often accompanied by other useful helpdesk software and tools). Let us assume an accountant has an issue, and the timeline is pressing, so the need for help is urgent. So, an in situ visit or taking the affected machine to a repair shop is a no go. Instead, the computer guy could connect remotely and try to do the fix. A broken Internet connection, however, only leaves us with the first two options (in situ or repair shop).
Another aids in solving such issues are remote system diagnostic tools. It could be dedicated software for system components analysis and monitoring or it could be included into a remote access solution. Even basic monitoring for troubleshooting most common issues is a good way for ensuring system stability.
Terminal servers are yet another useful tool for accountants. They are widely used by accountants in companies when accounting programs are hosted on a server. Accountants access the programs remotely through a thin client, without installing it on every PC. Microsoft offers terminal access solutions for their server operating systems.
Cloud technologies are widely used today and accounting is not an exception. While cloud-based accounting solutions do not always rely on remote desktop software, they always enable the user to do their job from almost anywhere. Anytime access experience depends on the implementation, but most certainly you have a web application, both when it comes to government services or independent software providers. The app will most certainly include more or less rich financial reporting functionality, often with automatic report generation. This is handy for self-employed entrepreneurs and small to mediums-sized companies, as they cannot afford a complex infrastructure and would be happy to just use it as a service. Also, this will make the accountant mobile and able to work from anywhere. It will work when company has few departments and only one accountant.
Let us look at the problem from another angle. The accountant is not the only stake holder who could have computer problems. It is a common practice for the accountant to do their work as an outsourced service or on demand. Companies often outsource accounting as well as related training and consulting. Often, the accountant does not need to be in office every day, as most of the work can be done remotely. In some cases (i.e in emergency situations), there is no other way to deliver in a timely manner but by doing the job via remote access. For example, there is an error in a paper to be filed that requires immediate attendance.
Consulting in accounting is yet another service in demand. When it comes to hands-on approach, a picture is often worth a thousand words. It definitely saves time when you just show something instead of giving a lengthy explanation. Also, with remote access, the accountant could have a look at the data remotely, give advice and the discuss the related details (remote desktop tools often have built-in IM chats and/or IP telephony). Using remote access, accountant could illustrate tips and tricks (and some tools allow video capturing for future reference). It surely makes it easier not just for the client, but for the accountant, too. Often problems occur if people are not good at explaining things over the phone, or the user in distress just does not have enough knowledge and skills to act under spoken instructions. Personal accounting consultations also require the accountant to have the required data at hand. Very often remote consulting is the best possible choice for all stake holders, as it offers:
For many aspects of our personal/family and business life, it is a quite common practice to do things remotely. Accounting is not an exception. Instead of employing an accountant, it is often better to buy on demand services. This will work in the following cases:
This is obviously not the full list of use cases when remote access comes to the rescue. Remote access is the silver bullet for many challenges that both the independent certified accountants and their customers have been facing for a long time.
It is no secret that almost everyone has faced a situation when you urgently need to:
Every day lots of people face such emergencies. It seems that the only universal remedy is to travel to the place. But why do this if you could use remote access? The above cases are not specific to accounting but they clearly demonstrate how remote access could (and should) be used by accountants.
Another use case is training. Training in accounting often means personalized approach and face-to-face contact, but it is not always feasible. On the other hand, all accounting is done on the computer. This way remote access enables the accountant to do training and explain things practically face-to-face, and even do so using client’s real accounting data as examples.
Let us draw a bottom line of the above use cases.
With remote access, all the stake holders (the accountant and the client) achieve virtually perfect mobility. There is no need to move between offices and spend time travelling. Almost everything can be done remotely. Independent accounting experts now have more time to service clients. Companies achieve almost the same: no need to travel, no time to waste and no limitations for working with the right accounting expert. All these benefits converge to create a huge synergetic effect. The issue remaining is to choose the right tools for working remotely.