Many businesses are now using QuickBooks software for their accounting needs, and many of those businesses provide data from this program to their accountants throughout the year. One challenge for both clients and accountants has been how to transfer that data safely and accurately.
Historically, accounting data may have been delivered to a company’s accountants by saving a digital backup onto a disk or a flash drive. Or if the data files were not large, the backup might be emailed. And, of course, many businesses simply printed out all the reports they thought the accountant would need. These approaches required that this crucial data would be packaged up and mailed, or that somebody working for the business would hand-deliver the flash drive or the disk or the printed reports. Often the accountants had to visit the client’s workplace to pick up – or even create – the backups and carry them back to their offices. Among the many problems with this process was that often the disk or flash drive was bad, or contained errors or viruses. Sometimes there was nothing on the disk or flash drive because the client inadvertently backed up the files to their desktop, instead of the proper directory.
To solve these problems, and save time and money, a service called RAS (Remote Accounting Solutions) developed an easier and more cost-effective way for businesses to connect with their accountants. It dispenses with physical media like disks, and just requires that the business can connect with the Internet. This service now puts accountants just one click away from instant access to their clients’ data files.
Our experience has been that the initial software installation is painless and can be done in just a few minutes. RAS will assist in the set up over the phone. Once that is done, you are good to go. This system offers various ways for the accountant to get secure access to client data. The business can create a “Working File” to send to the accountant. This permits the accountant to work on actual “live” information, so necessary changes or corrections can be made directly. The only downside to this is that while the accountant has the working file, the business cannot access it until the accountant sends it back. An alternative is to create a “Review File,” which can also be sent to the accountant. This allows the accountant to see all the data, but lets the business continue to work with its accounting file. Which transfer method is best depends on what tasks the accountant needs to do.
Sometimes it’s helpful for both parties to see financial data, and any needed changes, at the same time. That’s why RAS gives the accountant the capability, with the client’s permission, to access the data while the business owner or bookkeeper is sitting in front of his or her computer screen. That lets the client see exactly what the accountant is doing, live. Doing this while talking by phone can save huge amounts of time and trouble, and avoid any misunderstandings between accountant and client.
Another very important benefit is safeguarding irreplaceable data. Every time a business sends its accounting file to RAS, it is automatically backed up. We have had at least two instances where our clients have lost their financial data as a result of electrical surges that damaged their computers. Once they got new computers and reinstalled the QuickBooks program, they were able to retrieve the backup file from RAS.
Of course, these benefits come with a price, but it’s very reasonable. The fee to use this transfer tool is currently around $13 per month. If you don’t use RAS at all in a month, there is no fee. And whether you use it just once, or 30 or 100 times during the month, the fee is still just $13.
If you’re not already using this service, I recommend that you consider it. Talk to your accountant for details about how to get started.
Randy McIntyre is a Certified Public Accountant and a partner in McIntyre, Paradis, Wood & Company, CPAs. He has worked in public accounting since 1977, in Wilmington since 1992. His firm is built on a history of service, technical expertise, and innovative to provide the expertise of larger firms with a personal, one-on-one approach. To learn more about McIntyre, Paradis, Wood & Company, see www.mpwcpas.com. He can be reached at [email protected] or 910-793-1181.
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