This ongoing battle has been around for many months. If you’re reading this, you’re scratching your head about which type of accounting software is best for your business. Is it cloud-based or on-premise desktop software? Well, you’re in luck. This guide is meant to break down each type in simple terms so that you can make the right choice. Let’s discuss all of them in detail.
What’s Cloud-Based Accounting Software All About?
Think of cloud-based software as an online library. Just like how you can go to the library and pick up any book you want, you can log into cloud-based software from anywhere, as long as you have internet access.
Easy to Access
Imagine being on vacation and still being able to check your business numbers. Yep, you can do that with cloud-based software. All you need is a smartphone or laptop with an internet connection.
Here’s the cool part: when something changes in your business like a sale happening, the cloud-based software updates instantly. So, you always have the latest info without lifting a finger.
Growing? No Problem
Cloud-based software is like a backpack that expands. As your business grows, you can easily add more features without buying a new backpack. Makes life simpler, doesn’t it?
What’s the Deal with On-Premise Desktop Accounting Software?
Picture on-premise software like a personal bookshelf at home. You have full control over it but can only access the books when you’re physically there.
All your important business stuff is stored on your computer or server with on-premise software. This means you get to be the captain of your ship, especially when it comes to keeping your info safe.
Make It Yours
You can tweak and twist on-premise software to look and function just how you want. It’s like picking the color and design of your bookshelf, so it matches your room perfectly.
All Control to You
Updates? New features? You can decide when and how these happen because the software is on your computer. Total control, isn’t it awesome?
What’s their Cost:
Now let’s talk dollars and cents. On-premise software often requires a big chunk of money upfront. Think of it as buying a car. Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is more like renting a car. You pay a smaller fee regularly.
Long-term vs. Short-term
Over many years, those smaller fees for cloud-based software can add up. But it’s easier on your wallet in the short run. On-premise software may be cheaper in the long-term but be ready for a big initial investment.
What Scales Better?
Scaling up means growing your business, and that’s what we all want, right? With cloud-based software, scaling up is a breeze. You can add new features with just a few clicks. On-premise software, however, requires you to buy more hardware or even new versions of the software. That could be a hassle.
How Safe Is My Data?
Both types offer security but in different ways. Cloud-based software companies spend a lot of money keeping your data safe. But remember, it’s out of your hands. On-premise software gives you full control, but you’ve got to handle the security measures yourself.
Playing Well With Others: Integration
Got other software tools you love? Most cloud-based accounting software plays well with other online tools. On-premise software can also integrate with other tools but may require some tech magic (and a wizard hat).
Is It Easy to Use?
Most people find cloud-based software easier to use because it’s designed to be simple and intuitive. On-premise software may have a steeper learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a powerful tool tailored to your needs.
Who Handles Fixes and Upgrades?
For cloud-based software, the company behind it takes care of all the techy stuff, like fixes and upgrades. For on-premise software, that responsibility is on you or your IT team. Choose wisely.
Reliability: Uptime and Downtime
The service provider takes care of all the nitty-gritty details to ensure the software is always up and running. However, if their servers go down, you might lose access temporarily. On the plus side, reputable cloud-based services often offer strong uptime guarantees.
Here, you or your IT team are responsible for keeping things running smoothly. Any hardware issues could lead to downtime, but you’re not dependent on an external service that could go down unexpectedly.
Support and Customer Service
These services often have robust customer support, including live chat, phone support, and a rich library of how-to articles. So if you’re the type who might need a bit of hand-holding, cloud-based might be for you.
While there might be a support team for the initial setup and occasional updates, ongoing support can be more limited. However, this makes sense if you have an in-house IT team capable of handling issues as they arise.
Data Ownership and Portability
Your data is stored on the provider’s servers, making it easier for them to assist with data migration or recovery. But if you ever want to switch providers, make it easy to export your data.
You own the data, and it’s stored on your premises. This makes it easier to switch software solutions, but migrating data to a new system can still be a complex task requiring IT expertise.
Some industries have stringent rules around data security and privacy. Make sure the option you choose complies with any industry-specific regulations.
Providers often invest in ensuring their services comply with regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, etc. But remember, the responsibility for compliance often remains shared between you and the provider.
The onus is largely on ensuring your software complies with regulations, which could require specialized expertise.
It boils down to what you need. If you want something that’s easy to use, scalable, and accessible from anywhere, cloud-based is the way to go. If you want more control and are willing to invest upfront, on-premise could be your winner.
Cloud-based and on-premise accounting software both have their pluses and minuses. Cloud-based systems are flexible and user-friendly, but you’ll pay for them regularly. On-premise solutions offer more control but require a hefty upfront cost and ongoing maintenance.