Like many, many people, I knew very little about working in the cloud: that’s until I joined the team at Fresh Financials!
I’ve worked for many companies that I’m sure still have separate buildings to house their networks and database gumpf (technical terms are not in my brain space), and if there are any technical faults then the whole company would go into disarray. So when I joined Fresh Financials you cannot image how liberating it felt to know that I could work anytime, anywhere and on any device. Circumstances where my computer would crash and all my work would be lost were now a thing of the past! Now the cloud looks after my work for me, keeping it safe until I can log back into my account (either on the same computer, or a different one) and can I continue where I left off, without any missing words, alterations or amendments.
You may wonder why I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog about me and my experiences. For people that know me through work, I thought it would be nice to show you more about me, more than me just being the girl on the end of the phone/email or in the background organising your accounts. For people that don’t know me, well, I thought that my experience is quite unique, and it has had a massive, positive effect on my life. By sharing my own experiences, I can help anyone who’s having doubts about moving to the cloud and give them some practical insights by sharing my cloud adventure.
About me and my background
I’m an ex-military girl, having worked in the RAF for three and a half years in a logistics role. Since leaving the RAF, I’ve had a whole array of jobs from being an estate agent, working in asset management and then finding myself within a big commercial retail company in the imports department – 123 miles from where I started out in little old Polegate, East Sussex. After settling there for three years I decided that I needed, and wanted, a job that I could carry with me for when I made the 123-mile journey back to my hometown. At this point in my life, I was beginning to think about settling down and having a family – and this is when I started my AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) journey and moved into accountancy.
I started self-teaching myself AAT level 2 (alongside my imports job) which I really enjoyed, but found that for me to take it any further I needed to move into finance. As I worked for a big retail company the first port of call was to see if their finance department had any vacancies. They did and two months later I was in.
After working there for a year I was getting itchy feet and started thinking about making my move and starting my family. Everything for me fell into place at the right time (not that I’m a crazy lady and planned it of course). I fell pregnant and moved back down South to East Sussex.
Finding my role at Fresh Financials
While pregnant I decided that I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mum. But nine months into the life of my child (and many Disney Channel TV hours later), my brain started to die and I had had enough.
With doing my AAT qualification I’d always envisaged that I’d go into an accounting firm, but my lack of practice experience or extensive qualifications proved to be a sticking point for even getting my CV through the door. I didn’t give up hope, though. I rang around all of the practices and offered my time for free, and at the same time I was always keeping my eye out for different job opportunities.
Then, one sunny spring morning the job advertisement for Fresh Financials glowed up on my screen. As soon as I read it, I knew it was mine. Obviously, there were the finer points of firstly getting an interview, and then getting the interviewers to like and want to hire me, but this job had been written for me. It wasn’t in an accounting firm ?
But as it turns out, although it was a bookkeeping role, it couldn’t have been further from the image that I had of what a bookkeeper would do. In fact, it was better. It was shiny, new and exciting – and I couldn’t wait to get started.
I so was keen to get straight on it, that I offered to start my training before my start date. I was given a laptop and all the guidance I needed to start learning about this all new (to me) accounting software called Xero. It was fantastic! I was at home, sitting at my dining table doing work stuff. I had all of this software and data available to me from the comfort of my own home and that’s all down to the brilliance of working in the cloud.
This may seem like basic stuff to you (and you may be thinking ‘simple things…’) but to go from working in a huge office where that was the only place I could get my work done, this was something of a novelty.
But the real bonus wasn’t just being able to work from home using this amazing new software, it was all the other things that working in the cloud enables you to do, like communicating, collaborating, integrating and working entirely more efficiently and securely than I’ve ever been able to do before.
Communicating more directly
At Fresh Financials, we use Google. Google offers everything you need to help with business administration and is also a great tool to visibly show that you’re working in the cloud. I could be in the office in the morning working on my desktop, on the train in the afternoon working on my phone and at a hotel in the evening working on my laptop. In all situations, I have simultaneous access to all the same emails, spreadsheets, and documents I need, wherever I am, at any time.
We also use software such as Skype or Zoom to communicate with clients, which means, at the click of a button, that I can be having a conversation with someone anywhere in the world and I haven’t even moved. I can also share data with the person I’m talking without having to post or email the information beforehand.
Integrating more effectively
Being introduced to Xero inevitably led me to be introduced to the whole ecosystem of business apps and cloud solutions that can be integrated with Xero and each other. There’s a whole community of these apps, each designed to help automate and streamline different processes within the office working environment.
Integration was once a word I’d only ever really heard in the kitchen, followed by the words ‘oven’ or ‘dishwasher’. Now, integration is all I want to know and if the software doesn’t integrate with the software that I’m using then, frankly, I’m not interested.
I takes time and care to find the right software that’s easy to use and helps to automate jobs that were once an arduous, manual task. Why do data entry when the magic fairies at Receipt Bank and Statement Rec will do it for you? Why create manual spreadsheets for financial reporting when brilliant software such as CrunchBoards exists.
Collaborating more productively
With all of the different software integrations, along with the different ways of communicating, working collaboratively is just so easy.
Why would you spend your time traveling to meetings when you can share data in real time using CrunchBoards over a Skype call? Using the different tools that Google offers – such as Google Drive, Sheets, and Docs – makes life so easy and enables different people to work on the same documents, all at the same time.
A better life in the cloud
My introduction to the possibilities and benefits of working in the cloud has been an amazing experience.
I feel I’ve been liberated from the stereotypical working office environment, where moving desks was like moving house, and sending emails were like sticking a letter on a snail and waiting for it to be delivered 20 metres down the office.
I’m currently sat on my sofa at home writing this blog, having just put my daughter in bed. Gone are the days where there were pressures to get things done in working hours: now I can work anytime, anywhere, on any device – and I’ll never look back!