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Every year we hear about a new technology or three that is the wave of the future. Months later, many of these have been forgotten only to be replaced by a new must-have gadget or program. However, there are also many technologies that have staying power. For instance, the smart phone is hardly a fad.

So how can accountants identify a technology with staying power? There are a few criteria that can help. First, technology should offer a concrete advantage. Rather than an abstract possibility of future gains, it should immediately save time, save money, improve customer service, or otherwise pay for itself. In addition, most firms will want to adopt technologies that are already being successfully used in the fields. In most expert opinions, the following three technologies have staying power as well as huge benefits for accounting firms of all sizes.

1. Cloud Based Servers

Purchasing dedicated servers is expensive. Maintaining them is both expensive and time consuming. Cloud based servers allow you to keep records in a safe and private space without the expense and time needed for a dedicated server. In addition, these services provide regular back ups and almost no downtime. If desired, you can allow your staff and clients both to access files whenever and wherever they want.

The real benefit of cloud based servers and computing, however, is being able to exchange and use information with no limits. Customers, especially small businesses, enjoy being able to keep a virtual accountant who can see new information and interact real time.

2. Client Portals

You have probably noticed, but the way we interact with corporate information is changing. Increasing privacy laws demand that information not be popped in an email or US Mail envelope. In addition, most modern people are accustomed to the convenience of signing on to a webpage and handling bills and other information from their laptop or smartphone. This technology also opens up new lines of work, as a firm can begin selling virtual accountant services.

Customer portals allowing people to make a password protested account and then see their information at any time. Accounting firms who are not using this technology should consider it for its privacy, ease of access, and because it’s quickly became the gold standard.

3. Scan and Input Software

Most of your clients are tech savvy, but most firms still have several heritage clients who do everything on paper. Each April, they descend with a shoebox full of paper receipts. This can be a huge challenge to firms that are no longer accounting on paper – that is, most firms. Without technology to handle this challenge, accounting firms are left having a person hand type data into their digital system in addition to scanning documents and otherwise making a digital record. This way of entering information also leads to a high rate of error, as no human is perfect.

Scan and Input software reads information from pages as they are scanned. New technologies have made most programs more accurate than a trained human. In addition, this software can save hundreds of employee hours. It is especially important for firms that are moving from paper to digital storage.

These technologies pay for themselves in increased customer satisfaction, increased security, and less employee time spent doing menial work. While not all technologies will benefit the average accounting firm, these three are a great choice for all or most of us.