What’s one of the best ways to improve association management? Accounting software! Although it might not sound as interesting as other aspects of management, accounting software is actually one of the most valuable tools for managing a homeowner or condominium association.
Once you’re up and running with the perfect accounting software, like CINC Systems, you’ll discover how easy it can be to manage HOA/COA finances. Accounting software designed for associations will help you process your client’s resident fees, pay invoices, and balance their budget. You’ll quickly discover how HOA/COA accounting software streamlines your business and helps you accomplish daily tasks in minutes.
One of the best features of association management accounting software is online integration. Today, most accounting programs store information on remote servers, also known as “the cloud.” This means you can access an association’s financial data from any location on a laptop, tablet, or even your smartphone. Cloud-based software also gives easy access to other people in your association management company.
But is your client’s data safe? We often hear about companies being hacked or accidentally leaking private personal information, such as passwords. When you’re managing an HOA/COA, it’s important to protect your client’s community and do whatever you can to safeguard the association’s financial data.
Here are some points to consider regarding the safety of cloud-based financial data.
Advantages of Cloud-Based Association Accounting Software
First, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of cloud-based association accounting software.
- General ledger accounting: Easily balance the books and track expenditures so your client’s association always stays on budget.
- Online fee payment processing: Create an online payment portal where residents can pay association fees, eliminating the lengthy process of paper checks.
- Invoicing for vendors: Allow vendors to submit their invoices online, then pay right away with the click of a button. You can also set up autopay for the association’s recurring bills.
- Sync bank accounts: Use integrated bank reconciliation to add an association’s accounts to your software. This will let you monitor the HOA/COA bank accounts in real-time from one dashboard instead of multiple websites.
- Generate financial reports: When it’s time to share financial data with your clients, you can automatically create detailed financial reports and share them via email.
Each of these features will save you time, money and headaches. You’ll be able to go paperless, too. Say goodbye to spreadsheets and long hours organizing paperwork.
Ultimately, the advantages of accounting software far outweigh the risk of having your client’s data hacked. In fact, the possibility of a data leak is actually quite remote. However, if you’re still concerned about protecting an association’s financial information, you can put your mind at ease by learning more about how accounting software keeps data secure.
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How Accounting Software Keeps Financial Data Secure
Accounting software uses several techniques to protect data in the cloud. First, an association’s financial information is encrypted. Encryption means that data becomes “scrambled” and can only be unlocked by a computer program with the right access key. Most software programs use a type of secure encryption called 256-bit SSL, but we recommend asking your software developer for their specific methods.
Second, there’s a good chance that an HOA’s/COA’s financial data is spread across multiple servers, instead of just one. This means that even if there’s a data breach, it would only affect a partial percentage of the secure information and the rest would still be safe. Again, ask your software developer for more information about their cloud security.
You can also ask your accounting software provider about the security employed at the physical address where the servers are located. Although online hacking is a much bigger threat, data servers are still vulnerable to physical break-ins. Your software provider most likely uses extra security measures like alarms and cameras to protect their cloud servers.
Finally, research how your accounting software provider uses firewalls, virus scanners, and malware protection. Most of these digital security measures are standard protection to keep financial data from being targeted.
Tips for Protecting an Association’s Financial Data Online
Although your accounting software providers take many measures to protect your financial data in the cloud, there are ways you can help secure it on your end, too. The most important thing you can do to protect accounting information in the cloud is to use a secure password.
If you’re not already using a secure password, now is a great time to update it. (Cybersecurity experts recommend changing your online passwords every three months.) To create a secure password for your association accounting software, follow this formula:
- Use at least eight characters. Sixteen is ideal
- Include at least one capital letter, ideally in a random place
- Create your password from a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
- Try substituting letters with numbers and symbols. (For example; consider using “8” for “B”, or substitute “@” for “a”)
- Use creative acronyms that no one else can guess, such as the first letter from each word in the opening lines of a favorite movie
When creating a secure password for HOA/COA management accounting software, never use anything “obvious” such as the name or address of your client’s association. Also avoid personal information, like birthdays and pet names.
If you have trouble remembering a strong password, consider using a keychain program such as LastPass. You could also write your password down (without the accompanying username or the name of the software program) on an unlabeled sheet of paper and hide it somewhere. Whatever you do, never store your passwords in an email, spreadsheet or Word document.
If there are other members of your HOA/COA management company who use your accounting software, make sure they create strong passwords, too.
Try CINC Systems, One of the Most Secure Programs for HOA/COA Management Accounting
Your association management accounting software data will be safe in the cloud, helping HOAs/COAs function more smoothly. If you’re not yet benefiting from association accounting software, try a CINC Systems free demo today.