As the pandemic draws to a close, many CPA firms and small-to-medium-sized businesses are looking for a sustainable way to bring their Sage or QuickBooks software to a virtual environment.
Forward-looking organizations see the benefit of working remotely. The increased productivity. The collaboration. However, it can be difficult to virtualize the desktop experience you know and love in a fast, secure environment.
This post will examine the challenges accountancies and businesses face as they look for ways their team members and clients can access everything and work together at the same time. We’ll cover two legacy ways for accessing QuickBooks or Sage in the cloud. Then we’ll introduce how an accounting virtual desktop brings the full power of desktop accounting software to an anytime, anywhere work environment.
What Is an Accounting Virtual Desktop?
Accounting virtual desktops allow team members or clients to log into a shared network where they can collaborate on files at the same time. They work by creating a virtual server to run the full version of QuickBooks or Sage and then using a remote access tool to allow users to securely access the software in a remote environment.
Two Legacy Ways to Access QuickBooks or Sage Remotely
Traditionally there have been two ways to connect remotely to a client’s files: a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of accounting software, or remote access tools like GoToMyPC.
1. SaaS Versions
SaaS solutions like Sage Intacct and QuickBooks Online make work accessible on the go. These tools allow you to quickly access accounting software in the cloud, while freeing you from all the IT headaches that come with it. Privacy and security are built in, so your business is free from the risk of data breaches. However, these SaaS versions are different from the desktop versions of QuickBooks or Sage you are used to, so they are not ideal if you want the customization and features available with the full desktop versions.
2. Remote Access Tools
Remote access tools like GoToMyPC take another approach and allow direct login access into a client or colleague’s computer. You have access to the full version of their Sage or QuickBooks software, along with every file on their system. These tools were designed to allow users to remotely access their own computer, so using them to access other people’s accounting files brings obvious privacy concerns.
With remote access, speed can be sluggish because you’re working against the target internet connection and the speed of their computer. Remote access requires the target computer be available, so if it goes to sleep, it will not be accessible. Further issues can arise when working across platforms, such as accessing a Windows desktop from a MacBook.
Both options get the job done in the sense that they allow firms, employees and clients to access files and work together at the same time. However, neither solution is ideal if you’re looking to bring the full power of Sage or QuickBooks to a secure, shared environment that works the same as the desktop version.
If neither of those strategies are a good fit, a third option allows you to bring your desktop license to the cloud: the accounting virtual desktop.
How a Virtual Desktop Works
Virtual desktops in accounting work by creating a virtual server to run QuickBooks or Sage, then using a remote access tool like Citrix so users can log in and access everything in the shared network. With a virtual desktop, you use the full version of desktop QuickBooks or Sage in a remote environment.
If you have an IT background, you can do this yourself. However, for most businesses, the easier and more cost-effective play is to engage an expert cloud hosting provider to set up and manage the virtual desktop.
How Hosted Accounting Virtual Desktops Work
With a hosted virtual desktop solution, users log into the same shared network where everyone can work at the same time. Privacy is never an issue since files and information are shared without logging into anyone’s computer. Slow speeds are seldom a problem, and legitimate hosting providers are continually managing uptimes and accessibility. Plus, additional apps like Bill.com can often be supported in virtual desktop environments. Finally, hosted environments provide added layers of protection from cyber-criminals through firewalls, encryption, and threat detection measures.
Hosted accounting virtual desktops are the ideal method to facilitate remote work. This option gives users all the benefits of familiar desktop software plus anytime, anywhere access. Unlike the other remote options, a hosted environment provides the security, backups, and IT support to free you to work on what matters most to you: growing your business and serving your clients. Schedule a demonstration to evaluate whether a cloud hosted accounting solution is right for your firm.