Microsoft joins the cloud
The launch of Microsoft Office 365 – an online capable version of the widely used Microsoft Office – is great news. Not only does it validate the online space by one of the largest and most established software houses, it re-confirms the position of the cloud as the next step for software.
Office 365 brings together:
- Office Professional Plus – the latest version of office productivity tools
- Exchange Online – email, calendar and contacts
- SharePoint Online- document management
- Lync Online – audio/video calling, instant messaging, conference calling
Watch the video overview:
This is a great opportunity for the accounting profession. Accountants live in Office tools like Outlook, Word and Excel, and there’s a huge swing amongst the profession to move from desktop accounting software to cloud solutions. Firms are now moving the back office tools into the cloud and saving loads of money on infrastructure investment. With Office 365 you still get to use Office, but you can throw out the expensive servers and access everything from anywhere.
“Office 365 makes life easier because all the data is kept together in one place, and there’s the ability to access it from anywhere at anytime, regardless of whether you’re in the office, visiting a client or at the beach!”
We really like that Office 365 commoditizes document management for accounting practices. A primary task for all accountants is adding value to documents. Before Office 365 it was expensive for accountants to adopt document management and clunky for them to check documents in and out as part of their daily workflow. Office365 solves that.
We took the document management component a step further by engaging SharePoint experts Provoke to work with some Xero partners to define and build an accountant-specific template to make Sharepoint work beautifully for practices. This eliminates the expensive consulting (often tens of thousands of dollars) that each practice would normally require to implement their specific taxonomy in the document management system.
You can see PracticePoint in the screen shot below.
We’ve also been working closely with Microsoft pre-release to get Office 365 integrated into our Modern Practice initiative. The result is a seamless flow of data from the client through to the accountant’s office – across practice management, tax filing, accounts production, document management and everything else a practice needs to operate entirely in the cloud.
Microsoft products are renowned for their depth of features but until now lacked the cloud aspect that Google nailed such as co-authoring, sharing, and anywhere/anytime access. Many will ask should they go for Office 365 or Google?
Office 365 is quite different to Google apps. See this review from InfoWorld.
We believe accountants will use both technologies. Most practices will still need Office, but Google Docs is also useful in many scenarios. The clear benefits of the cloud-enabled Office 365, combined with commodity level pricing, makes Office 365 and the Modern Practice ideal for almost every practice.
We’ll keep you informed as our beta customers gain experience over the next month.
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