As cloud accounting systems become increasingly popular, small businesses will need to consider whether or not to switch. Technology is moving fast; the major bookkeeping software companies are committed to cloud accounting and support for desktop systems will eventually cease.

Cloud accounting is similar to traditional accounting software but with the key difference that all information is stored and accessed via the internet.

With an internet device, your financial information is available 24/7; you can update your books even when travelling. No software or hardware upgrades are required – so the start-up cost is much less. Data entry is easier and quicker and information can be shared easily. "The biggest advantages for me..." says Rachel Lannon of Iniom Ltd "....are the automatic bank feed and my accountant having access to my books without me doing anything."

However, there are two main concerns: a cloud system is only as good as the internet connection you have; and, as your data is potentially accessible from anywhere on the internet, data security, storage and confidentiality may be an issue.

On balance, cloud-based accounting systems present a great opportunity for small businesses to speed up their routine accounting tasks and share data far more easily than ever before. However, they need to be comfortable with the internet 'concept' and the potential risks that this can pose.

If you would like further information or advice, please call Liz Mitchell at AP Accounting on 01636 814647 or via the website www.apaccounting.co.uk