Ways to use 'the cloud' in your business

Agribusinses Insights

Clouds are generally a good thing for farming. 

Whether that be the first hopeful signs of rain after long periods of drought or the relief at getting rain at just the right time, clouds are generally welcomed by the farming community. 
Yet what about “the Cloud”, this so-called magical place where all our information is being stored? 

The questions you may be asking are - what really is it, is it safe, and what benefit is it to me?

Put simply, the cloud essentially is data and processing being done on other computers.  It is not new, it has been around since the internet began, and we are already using it whether we want to or not.  Most of our interactions with agencies, whether they are Government or private, such as banks, are now primarily electronic in nature and use the cloud.  So, is it better to use the cloud for these transactions?  Given the alternatives include waiting in the queue at the bank, Medicare or Centrelink, the cloud can offer a quicker, more reliable service.

Is it safe?

Many people are rightly concerned about the amount of personal data stored in the cloud and its security. While large scale hacking attacks on organisations such as our banks can happen, that is not something we can personally control.  The banks already have our data in the cloud.  However, much of the risk that relates to our data revolves around the practices we employ personally, via the use of our computers and phones.  The older practices of sending in USB drives in the mail, to be used over multiple computers, have much higher risks of transferring viruses and malware than using internet banking. 

Cloud accounting for farms and business

How will the cloud really help my farm or business?

My interest in the cloud has always been focused on what the benefits are to our clients and myself.  Using Facebook to post a picture of my meal, I suggest is of little value to anyone.  Yet for a business or farm to be able to access data at any given time, anywhere, is of great value.  The time saved by having bank transactions automatically downloaded into a program like Xero, is of great value.  The ability to use a program like Figured to record actual livestock movements, including births and deaths, instead of relying on the Elders book that ends up in the washing machine, provides real-time reliable information on a farming business’s performance.  Budgets can be live and decisions for families can be made and reviewed in a timely manner.  Production performance can be matched with cashflow.

Farming is not getting any easier. 
The risks are higher, and the need for good, reliable and timely information is more important than ever.
Cloud technology can get you that information quicker than before. 

If you have questions about cloud accounting and how this technology could benefit your business, get in contact with your local RSM team for more information.

This article first appeared in Farm Weekly.