Accounting News

The use of Sage Pastel in schools

It has become a norm that all the St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria Accountings students enrol into Sage Pastel Programme in the start of their Grade 10 year, annually writing Pastel Exams all the way through to Matric where at the end they find themselves qualified Pastel users.

From the beginning of 2013, the girls started using the new Sage Pastel Accounting Training Certified School’s Programme instead of its predecessor. This change has proven to be a resounding success. The new software is fast, effective, easy to operate and as a bonus, aesthetically pleasing making it a fan-favourite amongst the girls.

The Sage Pastel Accounting Training Certified School’s Programme consists of ‘Pastel My Business Version 3’ and ‘Pastel CSP Virtualbook’.

‘Pastel My Business’ is a desktop accounting software. It processes all events from the beginning to the end of the accounting cycle, collating all the information gathered into simplified and organised graphs and lists in one common place, ‘The Dashboard’. The programme is incredibly convenient and makes analysing and interpreting the running and control of a business easier to do, hence its wide use in prosperous corporations.

The supporting act of ‘Pastel My Business’ is the ‘Pastel CSP Virtualbook’. This is a virtual textbook that informs the student about principles which are the bases of accounting procedures and practises. It furthermore educates the learner, step by step, about all there is to know about using the software and how to go about operating it. It is a sensational piece of work as it clearly and so basically teaches the learner how to use the ‘My Business’ effectively and efficiently whilst explaining why things are done in the manner in which they are done.

As promised, they are always willing to help. If any of the girls had any problems with their laptops or installing the programme onto their computers, the Sage Pastel team were only a friendly phone call away. Through their diligence and readiness to assist, all of the girls have always been able to operate the program and have had enjoyable experiences with it.

The use of the Sage Pastel Accounting Training Certified School’s Programme has proven to be an exceptionally useful initiative as it puts into practise everything we learn in the classroom into real life situations. The programme also enables students who plan on pursuing careers in the accountancy industry to have an extra edge to their resume as Sage Pastel is highly and broadly recognised in the business world and through this programme, one becomes fully qualified to use the software.

ETI offers a strategic opportunity for savvy employers

South African businesses of all sizes have a great opportunity to help address the country’s growing youth unemployment crisis while benefitting from a tax incentive by taking advantage of the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI).

South Africa’s unemployment rate of around 50% among people under 25 poses a threat to the country’s future sustainability and prosperity. By helping youngsters to join the workforce, companies can develop their workforces of the future as well as help alleviate the social instability that arises when there are too many young people without work.

This crisis is weighing very heavily on the government’s mind, hence the fast-tracking of the ETI into law during 2013. Now that it is in place, the ETI offers employers some generous incentives for helping to bring the young into the workplace and helping them to develop skills that will make them employable into the future.

The ETI encourages employers to hire young people by reducing the PAYE that the employer is liable to pay to SARS based on the number of young people employed. This reduces the cost of employment to the employer while leaving the employee’s earnings unaffected.

The Employment Tax Incentive legislation will be in effect for an initial three-year period from January 2014 to December 2016. During this time, all employers in the private sector who are registered for PAYE and have their tax affairs in order can take advantage of the scheme, says Cooper.

Companies can claim the ETI for people they directly employed after 1 October 2013 who meet the following criteria:

Are between 18 and 29 years of age.

Work mainly in a special economic zone where the employer has a fixed place of business, or are employed in an industry specified by the minister of labour, finance or trade and industry.
Have a RSA ID document or an Asylum Seeker permit.
Earn more than the minimum wage or R2,000 per month (if no minimum wage) but less than R6,000 per month.
The tax benefits of the ETI can be generous for employers who use it strategically, says Cooper. For the first 12 (qualifying) months, the monthly value of the ETI is per qualifying employee is:

50% of monthly remuneration if less than R2,000.

R1,000 for monthly remuneration between R2,000 and R4,000.
R1 000 – (0,5 x (monthly remuneration – R4 000)) from R4 000 upwards.
For the second 12 months, the monthly value of the ETI is:

25% of monthly remuneration if less than R2,000 • R500 for monthly remuneration from R2,000 up to R4,000

R500 – (0,25 x (monthly remuneration – R4,000)) from R4,000 upwards.

These incentives mean employees have a perfect opportunity to start putting young people into unfilled jobs that they did not urgently need to fill. They can bring youngsters on board and start training them up and make them productive while they benefit from the subsidy. They can also benefit by bringing in casuals to boost their productivity.Companies that employ a qualifying casual for R200 per day for 10 days per month will get a reduction of R1 000 from monthly PAYE for the first 12 months, for example.

If you are an eligible employer with at least one qualifying employee, a good payroll software package should be able to automatically calculate your ETI amount in respect of all the qualifying employee. You then need to declare the total ETI for the month on the new EMP201 form.

The ETI is just one of the many pieces of legislation and regulation that make it imperative for businesses of all sizes to have an automated payroll solution in place. An automated solution will take care of calculating the complex formulas, generating the relevant compliance reports, and keeping accurate records, sparing the person responsible for the payroll reams of manual paperwork.

How software as a service can put accountants on cloud nine

Over the past 30 years, accounting software has evolved from the static, text-based interfaces of the first DOS-based programs like Lotus 1-2-3 into today’s highly automated applications with their rich functionality and graphical interfaces. Now, the accounting software world is in the midst of a move as significant as the shift
from DOS to Windows.

We’re starting to see small businesses around the world enthusiastically embrace cloud-based accounting solutions such as Sage Pastel’s My Business Online in an effort to become more efficient and flexible in the way they do business. My Business Online is a fully-featured online accounting software solution with dashboards, graphs and drill-downs to any transaction that you and your accountant can access, 24/7 via the internet.

Cloud-based services such as My Business Online turn software into a service that you access via the internet rather than an application you install on a computer’s hard drive. The principle is the same as DropBox, Google Mail, and a range of other applications you depend on every day.

This approach brings many advantages for SMEs. Firstly, you no longer need to dip into your cash reserves to buy a licence for a software package. Instead, you pay a small fee per user each month, turning your software purchase into a modest operational expense. What’s more, opting for a cloud service frees you of many of the technical headachesof owning software installed on a computer. That means you can focus on your job and growing your business rather than on wrestling with technology-especially helpful if you don’t have a dedicated IT guy.

Your data is securely stored in the cloud – in this case, a world-class data centre in South Africa – rather than on your own hard drive. That means you don’t need to constantly worry about whether you’ve backed your data up and whether you’ll be able to recover your financial information if your hard drive crashes or your office is robbed or burns down.

You’ll also know that you’re always running the latest version of the software, so you can be sure that you’re up to date with the latest laws and regulations issued by bodies like SARS. And you won’t need to keep patching and updating the software yourself every time there’s a bug fix, security patch or new piece of functionality added to the software.

The biggest benefit of the cloud, however, lies in the flexibility and efficiency it introduces into your working life. You can suddenly access your accounting system wherever you are and at any time of the day or night – you’re no longer restricted a single computer. If you’re an accountant and your clients use a cloud solution, they could provide you with a user name for the system. That means you could access the same live system on which clients work. They can capture transactions and you can log in to do checks and adjustments. This makes everyone’s lives much easier while ensuring that you’re all working off the same accurate and up-to-date financial data.

In addition to accessing your accounting package from any internet-connected desktop or notebook, you can also access it from your tablet or smartphone. Imagine the flexibility it will give you if you are able to log on to view a dashboard to see how your company is performing, view customer information, record notes and create quotes or invoices, wherever you are. You can view and edit customer notes from wherever you are and create quotes or invoices and email these directly to your customer.

You’re shopping and banking online. Is there any reason why using your accounting software online shouldn’t be as easy and convenient. Put your customer information in the palm of your hand, be a part of the online trend and watch your business grow from anywhere in the world, with My Business Online.

ARS New Requirments

If you are VAT registered, you could be asked to fill out an IT14SD form at the end of the tax year, as from February 2015 this will be compulsary.

This IT14SD form is a summary of all VAT Outputs and VAT Inputs declared and has to tie up with your Financials.

We can make the necessary changes to your tax within Pastel to assist you with the completion of this form.These changes need to be done now before your new tax year starts so that it will give you the necessary information as at February 2015. For these changes to be effective for the IT14SD, we are adding in new tax types and also making changes to the box report.

Most companies have financial years which run from March to February. To comply with the SARS requirement you need to have effected these changes by March 2014. We are expecting a rush so please give us a call to make an appointment, if you would like us to assist you with these changes.

Contact our Support Division on +27 31 465 6629 or send us an email

Pastel Accounting V12

New Features in Version 12
Copy an existing inventory item to create a new one – this will create a duplicate of the inventory item & leave the code blank, giving you the chance to enter a new code.

A wizard to help you manage your on hold documents – taking them off hold, or placing them on hold.

Multiple e-mail addresses for customers – giving you the flexibility to enter a recipient e-mail address to receive invoices, and a different e-mail address to receive statements.

Manage your VAT periods and reporting using the new Sage Pastel Tax Manager
Closing VAT periods is essential to ensure correct VAT reporting to SARS and VAT reconciliations. With the new Tax Manager feature, you can set up your VAT reporting periods, process your transactions as usual, and at the end of each VAT period, print your VAT reports and close the period. Back-dated transactions will automatically form part of the next VAT period.

Multiple company conversions
Gone are the days where you need to select and convert one company at a time. You can now convert multiple sets of data at once. This feature allows you to select the companies you wish to convert and it converts all of them into Sage Pastel Accounting Version 12.

Duplicate reference numbers on customer documents
With Sage Pastel Accounting Version 12 you will now be warned when using the same reference number for the same customer.
A little additional feature, but a big step towards helping you avoid processing duplicate orders.

What’s still to come?
With the Automatic Updates feature in Version 12, Sage Pastel Business Care Licence customers can look forward to receiving the features below in the near future – delivered online, directly to their accounting program.

Automatic Bank feeds
A direct feed of your bank statements from your bank & other financial institutions into Sage Pastel Bank Manager. This saves you having to manually import your bank statements yourself.

Mobility
View a dashboard on your mobile phone or tablet and get a bird’s-eye-view of important company information.

Netcash
The following services will be offered with Netcash

validate customer/supplier bank details (confirm valid branch code and account number)
verify customer/supplier account holder details
corporate disclosure (CIPRO/CIPC)report
Watch this space on a regular basis to keep up to date on the features that are coming your way over the coming months.

*Available as an optional add-on module for Sage Pastel Accounting Version 12.

Contact our Support Division on +27 31 465 6629 or send us an email

10 Tips for keeping your data safe in the cloud

If you choose a credible cloud software provider, it will host your accounting or payroll applications and data in a secure data centre underpinned by world-class technology. This will free you from doing backups, buying and installing new versions of the software, and fencing your data behind high security software.

Yet that doesnít mean you can neglect information security in your business. Youíll still be using your own devices to access the cloud, so there are some security vulnerabilities you need to take care of on your side. Here are a few ways to protect your business from data security threats.

1. Choose the right provider

Buy cloud services only from reputable software vendors and Internet service providers. These companies will have put a range of processes and policies in place to secure their infrastructure and your data from information security risks. For example, our online solution, Sage One Accounting and Sage One Payroll, is hosted with Internet Solutions, who run one of the countryís most secure data centres.

That means our clients can rest assured that their data will be secure, backed-up, and accessible ñ safe from hackers, weather disasters, theft, Eskom and all the other challenges you need to manage if you run the software on your own computers.

2. Educate your end-users

Educate your end-users about the basics of information security – for example, make sure they know why they need to choose strong passwords and that theyíre alert to the dangers of phishing emails designed to persuade them to give their log-in details to people with criminal intentions.

3. Install antimalware software

You should install antivirus and antimalware software on your laptops and desktop computers, and then keep it up to date with the latest definitions. This will help to protect you from malicious software programs such as Trojans and keyloggers. Such software can be used to steal information such as your log-ins for online banking or cloud applications.

4. Enforce strong passwords

Cloud services can usually be accessed through any device connected to the public network. You will authenticate yourself to the service with a username and password. Protect yourself by choosing a strong password that is difficult to guess, but easy for you to remember. It is just as important to change your password periodically. You must also take care not to let your password fall into the wrong hands.

5. Get serious about mobile security

It’s great that you can access your accounting software or payroll through your smartphone or tablet, but thereís also a risk attached to this. If you save your passwords on the device, anyone who steals your device or finds it if you lose it will be able to access your information.

Thus, be sure to lock your device behind a PIN code or password when not in use. Also, most mobile devices today allow you to track their location or remotely wipe data. Itís a good idea to enable this functionality just in case the device goes missing.

6. Keep software up to date with security patches

When it comes to desktops and notebooks, be sure to keep your operating systems and browsers up to date with the latest security patches. These close off known vulnerabilities in the software, making your computer more secure.

7. Apply two-step verification

Where your cloud provider allows it, enable two-factor authentication. For example, you could set your account up to ask for a code sent to you by SMS when you log in or use a fingerprint in addition to a password. Thus, even if someone steals or guesses your password, they wonít be able to access your sensitive data.

8. Be careful about where you log into cloud services

If you sometimes log into your cloud applications using public, borrowed or shared computers, make sure that you opt to not save your password and ensure you log out of your account after you are done. Also, if youíre working with particularly sensitive data, be aware that public wireless networks are usually not secure.

9. Keep your passwords secret

Look after your passwords. Donít keep them in an easily accessible file on your computer or scribble them on sticky notes that you paste on your screen where everyone can see them.

10. Check the security certificate

Get in the habit of checking that any cloud sites you use have a security certificate in place. The certificate should be valid for the vendor providing the cloud service, should not be expired, and must be issued by a reputable certificate company.

Budget 2015: A glimmer of hope for SMEs

This year’s budget from Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene showed some support for the country’s SMEs by giving further tax relief to the smallest enterprises, yet it could have done more to help local businesses prosper.

That’s according to Daryl Blundell, GM of Sage Pastel Accounting, who says that the government has yet to translate its talk about the importance of small business into bold actions and strategies that give a serious boost to the SME sector.

Like most budget speeches, I was left feeling that the government could have done more to support the growth of the SME sector, he adds. It would have been great to see if we’ve seen more decisive action on issues such as the country’s electricity crisis. That said, the smallest businesses are among the few South Africans to get some good news in the budget.

New tax thresholds give micro-businesses a boost

On a positive note, Blundell welcomes the decision to increase tax threshold for micro-business owners. Those that have chosen to pay turnover tax will not pay tax if their turnover is lower than R335,000. The threshold used to be R150,000 so the effect will be to give smaller businesses more money to fund their growth, says Blundell.

The other brackets for turnover tax have also been significantly adjusted. A business with a turnover of R750,000 will now pay just R6,650 in tax rather than R15,500. And businesses with a turnover of between R750,000 and R1 million will be taxed at 3% rather than 6%.

Blundell says that the Minister’s promise to establish small business desks at the SA Revenue Service (SARS) to help SMEs to comply with tax requirements is also a positive move. Complying with SARS regulations is time-consuming and complex, so this could be very good news for SMEs, provided the idea is well executed, says Blundell.

I’m also glad to hear Minister Nene reiterated the government’s plans to ensure that 30% of government procurement goes to SMEs, to make sure that SMEs supplying government are paid more speedily.

What about the mid-sized business?

But Blundell says that he would’ve liked to have seen government signal more support for growing businesses that have annual turnovers above R1 million and less than R10 million. As a micro-business owner, your incentives are tilted towards staying small rather than busting through the R1 million turnover ceiling where your tax and regulatory burdens become much more onerous. At the moment, there is a lot of heavy-handed regulation that makes it expensive to do business in South Africa, he adds.

For example, there are complex labour laws. Big companies run large HR and legal departments to navigate them. Small businesses, however, cannot afford such resources. We need to recognise, perhaps, that small and large enterprises cannot be regulated in the same ways.

More answers needed on electricity

Blundell says that one obvious area where government could help SMEs is by taking decisive action on the current electricity crisis. By allowing the free market to play a bigger role in the energy sector, government could address the shortfall in power generation in a much shorter time frame, he says.

We’d see a flurry of job creation as entrepreneurs step up to service the demand for electricity. Just look at how privatisation and liberalisation have transformed the telecoms sector.

It is time to stop protecting dysfunctional state-owned enterprises and let other players step in to compete. It is disappointing to hear that a higher electricity levy, that increases the cost of doing business, is the most imaginative step the Minister could come up with to address this pressing problem.

New taxes to take money out of the economy

A consumption-based tax would’ve been a fairer way of raising money than putting businesses and workers under more pressure, he says. Reducing people’s disposable income through taxation will hurt growth. Meanwhile the stiff fuel levy increase will fuel inflation, and will compound the pain we’ll all feel when the oil price inevitably rises again. The best way to increase tax revenue would be to promote economic growth, says Blundell.

This demands that government cuts red tape, promotes local industry and allows business to operate with fewer constraints on its growth. The budget’s biggest failing, therefore, is that it has few new ideas about helping businesses to grow and create jobs.

New BBBEE Codes crunch presents mid-sized businesses with a golden opportunity

Mid-sized businesses face a significant challenge in transforming their businesses to comply with the stricter Revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Codes that will come into effect on 1 May this year.

However, they should regard it as an opportunity to help grow both their businesses and the South African economy. That’s the word from Saul Symanowitz, Divisional Manager at Sage Pastel BEE123, who says that mid-range businesses regarded as Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSE) under the Revised BBBEE Codes will need to think of creative solutions to address the new requirements of the Codes. QSEs are businesses that have an annual total revenue of between R10 million and R50 million.

For QSEs with black ownership in place the opportunities are evident. QSEs with 100% black ownership will be automatically compliant as Level 1 Contributors, while QSEs with 51%-99% black ownership will be automatically compliant as Level 2 Contributors. This presents numerous opportunities for them in relation to the new Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) element of the Revised Codes. Under the Preferential Procurement sub-element of ESD, black-owned QSEs are particularly attractive as suppliers because their customers will score well when procuring from them, due to both their good ratings and the multiple places on the Scorecard they qualify within.

Additionally due to their size and black ownership credentials they qualify as ESD Beneficiaries, which means they have the ability to attract a variety of support (eg. funding, loans, discounts, favourable terms etc) from other businesses who need to spend up to 3% of their NPAT developing such ESD Beneficiaries.

For QSE businesses without black ownership in place the position is somewhat tougher. They neither qualify from the exemption from the codes granted to black owned QSEs, nor do they have the dedicated resources focused on transformation that larger businesses have at their disposal. And with the new Codes, they must completely rethink their approach to BEE if they are not to drop up to a few levels as the regulations come into effect, says Symanowitz.

In the past, QSEs could choose to comply with any four of the seven elements in the older BBBEE Codes, which gave them a great deal of flexibility, he says. For example, a family-owned business could choose to focus on socio economic development, skills development, and enterprise development rather than on black ownership.

Now, however, they are penalised if they don’t comply with all five pillars of the revamped Codes: ownership, management control, skills development, enterprise and supplier development, and socio-economic development. And now ownership, skills development, and enterprise and supplier development are priority elements. That means if they fail to meet the minimum requirement in ownership and any one of the other two, their BEE status will drop a level.

Creative thinking required

Mid-sized companies should think creatively about how they will comply with the new, stricter Codes. For example, an employee share incentive or a community share scheme can benefit the business strategically while helping it comply with the new Codes. By bringing the right shareholders on board, companies can also open up new markets and perspectives for themselves.

As difficult as it may seem at first to comply, it’s helpful for organisations to think of BBBEE as a way to help the economy and the wider society. We need to grow our middle class as much as possible and unlock the potential of 45 million people who live in poverty. That’s good for business and everyone who lives in South Africa.

According to a survey by University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing, the black middle class population grew to 4.2 million by 2013, up from 1.7 million in 2004. The black middle class spends around R400 billion a year. That means a rising black middle class is an engine for growth and profitability for businesses.

Yet numbers from Stats SA show that some 21% of South Africans still live in extreme poverty, meaning that transformation of the economy is far from complete. Symanowitz says that many QSEs are struggling with transformation, even if they recognise its importance, because of a lack of resources.

Automation and the right strategic advice can help companies to master the BBBEE challenge. Typically, they’ll have one person focusing on BEE, usually a finance or HR director, rather than the team of dedicated specialists larger companies can afford. There is a massive learning curve when the Codes are changed or the BBBEE Act is amended, says Symanowitz. That is why they should look to tools such as BEE123’s B-BBEE Management Solution to automate some of the process.

This solution helps organisations calculate and understand their BEE scores ahead of an audit for certification. They can simply input the relevant numbers and the application will tell them how the new Codes will impact on their scorecards. The BEE123 scenario planning tool determines exactly how certain changes could potentially impact their BEE rating.

“BEE can be complex to implement under the new Codes, but it can also provide a competitive edge for QSEs that do get it right. This starts with having the correct data and information at your fingertips, which is where our tools have a valuable role to play. Coupled with our strategic advisory and ongoing support, a simple and cost effective solution to BBEE compliancy is provided. “

SME survival guide for load shedding

1. Regular backups

You should keep your latest data backed up so that you won’t lose hours of work or any important information when the power goes out. Regular data backups are a must, not only because of load shedding, they can also be a lifesaver if your hard drive crashes or your computers are stolen.

If possible, invest in an offsite backup system. For example, the Pastel Iron Tree online backup system lets you make backups to the cloud. Data backups are kept safe on secure servers and can be accessed wherever you have an Internet connection.

2. Invest in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for your PC’s as well as any network hubs or switches

In the event of a power failure or load shedding, a UPS will give users time to exit the applications they are working on and save their work before they safely shut down their PCs. Even if you have generators, they’ll take a few seconds to kick in after a power failure – a UPS will prevent them from losing power before you’ve saved your work.

A backup power inverter system is another option. For less than R10, 000 you can find one that will keep your routers, a couple of computers and some lights going for a few hours.

3. Switch off all PC’s not performing critical functions when not in use

Any data that is open on a PC is at risk of being damaged or corrupted in the event of a power failure. For that reason, you need to get into the habit of closing applications and shutting down desktop computers when you are not using them for a while.

4. Switch off PCs and unplug them when the lights go out

To reduce the risk of damage to hardware, switch off your PCs and unplug them from the main power source. Otherwise, power surges when electricity is restored may damage your hardware.

5. Consider investing in a power bank

A power bank can be invaluable for managing your business when there’s load shedding. These portable chargers let you top up the battery of your USB-powered mobile devices so you can keep going when there’s a long power outage.

This is especially helpful if your PBX and landlines go down when there’s no power – at least, your mobile phone will be powered up and you’ll be reachable. Power banks are also helpful if you’re out and about for most of the day, and constantly finding yourself out of battery power for your smartphone.

SMEs under pressure to use tech more effectively

South African SMEs are under growing pressure to use technology in more sophisticated ways to meet the expectations of their customers, reduce costs, and stay ahead of growing regulatory and tax compliance demands.

That’s according to Daryl Blundell, General Manager for Sage Pastel Accounting, who says that it’s more important than ever for SMEs to educate themselves about the latest technologies. “With the growing pace of change in society, business and technology, SMEs must integrate technology into their business to remain competitive,” he says.

“Their customers are online and demand even small businesses to have the ability to serve them using digital channels. Regulators and tax authorities demand prompt and accurate reporting. And in an uncertain economy, it’s more important than ever for smaller businesses to be lean, agile and smart in the ways that they do business.”

Today’s technology empowers small businesses to access new markets, drive costs out of their businesses, and improve relationships with their customers — helping them to boost their revenues and profits. Research such as a recent Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study commissioned by Microsoft shows that ICT gives smaller businesses an edge, whether they are in developing or established markets. The study of 4,000 SMEs in the US, Germany, China, India, and Brazil found that entrepreneurs who were early technology adopters increased their annual revenues 15% faster than their competitors.

Blundell says that the challenge for SMEs is that they often don’t have in-house ICT resources to investigate and drive new technology opportunities for them. Furthermore, they lack the capital to build substantial in-house IT infrastructures. This leads to a misconception among SME owners and managers that technologies such as social media, analytics and the cloud are too expensive and complex for their businesses.

But the reality is that powerful enterprise business applications, collaboration tools, reporting tools, and digital platforms are more affordable than ever before, says Blundell. Thanks to the rise of cloud computing, SMEs can choose from a wide range of affordable solutions that help them compete with large companies with big IT budgets, he adds.

“The industry shares some blame here because some vendors have focused too much on selling the technology and not enough on the underlying benefit,” Blundell says. “SMEs want solutions to business problems, such as keeping accurate financial records, getting visibility into business trends, and reaching new customers. The cloud puts affordable solutions to these business problems within their reach.”

Blundell says that the flexibility and simplicity of the cloud are among its most significant advantages for smaller organisations. It enables them to buy business applications as a service they pay for per month, rather than them needing to invest in software licences, servers and an IT department to keep everything running smoothly. It also gives them the ability to access their applications and data anywhere they have an Internet connection and mobile device or computer.

This eliminates much of the risk and complexity SMEs have come to associate with IT, Blundell says. “The cloud lets SMEs focus on the business outcomes technology enables, rather than the plumbing,” he adds. “Given their limited budgets and access to IT skills, every SME can benefit from technology that is simple to implement and use.”