Rant against desktop accounting

I’ve been critical of accountants and business managers who have not adapted to online hosted accounting platforms. Their logic in using local desktop-based accounting software programs just does not make sense to me because almost all the sources of accounting data are already hosted online and almost all the output of accounting data are already hosted online. Why should the accounting system be the only part of the financial process that is not handled online?

In other words in a typical day an accountant might take in electronic transaction data from 10 to 20 different online bank web sites, financial data company web sites, payroll processors, Google Drive, etc. Little to none of a typical accountant’s data comes from local paper or physical sources anymore, although a few relic systems may exist.

Then the accountant brings it all into an accounting program for processing work. In my case that’s also all online. In other businesses it may be on desktop software.

When we are done with our work, we send it back out online to various tax authorities (IRS, state, local), to clients, boards, etc. through portals, web drives, email. etc. that all go through online hosted services. Rarely do we deliver a physical product on paper or other media.

So that leaves the question: Why should the accounting system be the only part of the process that is not online? I know accountants feel strongly about this issue but I’ve never understood the basic underlying logic.

I notice that more accountants are taking a stance that they work with one method or the other – all online or all desktop. I’ve invested much time in training for conversions of desktop to online accounting systems so I’m biased. The accounting industry tells us that 40% of all small businesses are now or soon will be in the process of converting to online accounting systems. But I suppose there will be a long statistical tail of the few who do not.


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