The main appeal of such a system is that it promises to speed up the whole process of financial management and allows both finance and non-finance users to act on the latest information in real-time.
Many of the benefits of browser-based systems can be realised almost immediately. Firstly, the familiarity and ease of use of this type of platform means that there is minimal training required and all employees, not just finance professionals, can really get to grips with the system from day one. For those organisations that wish to devolve many accounting activities to non-financial staff, a browser-based system is probably also the most effective as it removes the ‘fear-factor’ associated with finance issues and is readily available to all personnel regardless of whether you are office-based or working remotely.
For many organisations, the accounts department can often represent a bottleneck because simple procedures, such as creating quotes, signing off purchase orders or invoicing, are delayed. This can have a negative impact both on cash-flow and profitability. A browser-based system can help facilitate the financial cycle by enlisting the cooperation of non-finance staff to become more involved.
Think, for example, how much easier it would be for a sales person to produce proposals or alert the finance personnel when a job is ready to be invoiced or chased for payment. This could be done at the time that is most convenient, rather than when they’re next in the office.
Not only is a browser-based platform easier to access but the information that can be displayed can be tailored to meet the exact specifications of a particular member of staff. For instance, rather than the finance department spending days compiling reports for senior management, directors can view this information themselves via an ‘at a glance’ portal rather than deciphering complicated spreadsheets. From a logistics and management point of view, too, there are advantages because the initial deployment and on-going maintenance is incredibly small. There is no need to install new software on multiple machines, little training is required and users don’t have to fire up a separate application every time they want to view financial data. Moving forward, unlike many traditional systems, there is no cumbersome upgrade procedure that can cause significant downtime. Instead, maintenance releases are normally issued regularly so that users can always be up to date without major inconvenience.
Unless you only want a restricted number of personnel to access the finance system, then most organisations would benefit from a browser-based package. In particular, if you have a disparate workforce or multiple sites then this type of solution would be very attractive and it could be set up effortlessly.
But perhaps the main reason you should consider a browser-based solution is to increase efficiency and decrease costs. Whether it’s through real-time management reporting, speeding up the sales cycle or reducing the overhead in IT management, a browser-based finance system gives you the tools to work smarter and boost revenues.
*Simon Kearsley is CEO and co-founder of accounting software vendor bluQube. Related articlesHow to tell if your accounting system should be replacedProjecting a rosier future