Business in the cloud: Accounting firm helps clients keep score

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Ed Branson draws on a sports metaphor to explain the importance of accounting in managing a business.

If a scoreboard was covered up and the final score wasn’t revealed until after the fact, it would be far more difficult to motivate players to perform at their best during the game. Yet, some business owners put off the accounting that not only would enable them to keep score of how their ventures are performing, but also engage in them more fully, says Branson, managing partner of Grand Mesa CPAs.

Given all the other demands on their time, it’s not all that surprising business owners sometimes balk at filing and bookkeeping, too, he says.

That’s why Branson says he’s excited about the potential for cloud-based accounting, payroll and document management services to make those tasks more efficient while offering up-to-the-minute financial information. It’s a tool, he says, that helps business owners take control of their operations.

Grand Mesa CPAs has scheduled a series of demonstrations on cloud-based accounting services for October. The firm plans group demonstrations at 

Ed Branson and Denise Downey run Grand Mesa CPAs, a Grand Junction-based accounting firm that offers a range of cloud-based services designed to help business owners take control of their ventures. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at its offices, located at 2754 Compass Drive, Suite 200. Individual appointments also may be scheduled.

Branson and Denise Downey, his partner in the firm, say cloud-based services are basically those offered through the Internet. The computer software and hardware needed to process and store information  also are accessed through the Internet. The means a business needs only a computer, scanner and Internet access to make the process work.

Branson and Downey say their firm offers clients as much or as little as they want in terms of cloud-based services, whether it’s billing customers, paying bills, processing payrolls or bookkeeping.

The firm not only works with clients to customize services to meet their needs, but also offers training, they say.

The key to getting the most out of cloud-based services, Branson says, is to enable business owners to touch a document only once.

For example, a business owner who receives a bill in the mail would inspect that bill to make sure it’s accurate, scan the bill to create an electronic image, push a computer button to print out a check and put the check into an envelope for mailing.

Thanks to cloud-based services, the filing and accounting functions already have been completed, Branson said. The only thing left to do is to shred the original paper document.

The process similarly works for other functions, including billing customers and paying employees, he says.

Cloud-based services allow business owners, employees and accountants to work simultaneously with information stored on computer servers on the Internet and accessed online from anywhere there’s an Internet connection, Branson and Downey say.

At the same time, cloud-based services eliminate concerns related to data backups, software updates and virus protection, they say. With cloud-based payroll services, employees can enjoy direct deposits and debit cards as well as online access to earnings reports.

One of the biggest benefits of all to cloud-based services is the availability of financial information about a business in real time, Downey says. Business owners don’t have to wait until the end of the month, the week or even the day to know how their operations are performing, she says.

Branson says Grand Mesa CPAs uses many of the techniques and processes it offers clients and has enjoyed a paperless operation since 1999.

Downey says she expects more and more clients to take advantage of cloud-based services. The growing use of smart phones and tablet computers likely will hasten more widespread adoption. “That’s where it’s going, absolutely,”

Branson sees the trend as a positive one in helping business owners gain more information about their operations and, in the process, more control. “It’s your real-time information. It’s your scoreboard. Let’s help you take control of it.”

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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