Flying in the Clouds

Newcastle’s bookkeeping industry is part of the biggest change to bookkeeping since the introduction of MYOB and Quickbooks. Cloud computing and cloud applications are fast emerging as a viable alternative for small businesses and changing the way we do business. Web based software systems provide business with an opportunity to implement leading edge technology without the cash commitment or technology infrastructure.

At Bling Bling Bookkeeping we investigate cloud computing applications and decide which ones may be applicable to our clients. Cloud applications that we use include accounting  systems (www.xero.com.au), payroll (www.paycycles.com.au), retail POS (www.vendhq.com), workflow (www.workflowmax.com), inventory (www.unleashedsoftware.com), time tracking (www.minutedock.com) and project management (www.bascamphq.com).

The benefits of using these cloud apps include access to “best of breed” software, timely updates, flexibility of using just what you need, lower cost and no need to invest in costly infrastructure. The development of web apps in almost every aspect of business processes will change the way small business people do business. However, the early life stage of these applications still raises a few questions.

However, privacy remains a serious issue for users of accounting and payroll systems. These systems require sensitive third party information be entered into the system. Information such as tax file numbers, ABN and bank account details. Identity theft is a very real risk of living online and these risks must be considered by clients and advisers alike.

Who is liable if your client’s accounting system is hacked and sensitive information is stolen? Is the client responsible? Is the adviser responsible? Should third party persons provide signed consents for their data to be stored online? How detailed would these written consents need to be? Would these written consents limit liability? In the event of loss is your professional indemnity appropriate to cover you for loss from “identity theft”?

The online world and its impact on business cannot be disputed however it is important that clients and advisers consider these risks and seek appropriate legal advice prior to publishing sensitive third party information online.

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