What do we mean when we talk about moving your accounting practice to ‘the cloud’? It may sound like an abstract concept because ‘the cloud’ takes many shapes, and there are multiple ways a firm can go ‘paperless’.
In general, we are talking about moving a firm’s IT infrastructure—that is, the physical servers—out of the office and switching a safer hosted environment. Cloud technology enables sensitive data to reside online, not just on the hard drive of a computer.
Moving your accounting practice to the cloud is easier than you may think.
Migrating to a ‘Virtual Private Cloud’ / ‘Virtual Desktop Instance’ (VDI)
You can continue using the same systems and software you are used to in a virtual private cloud or virtual desktop instance.
Typically a third party, such as an outsourcing provider with secure protocols, automatic backups and help-desk support, can host your ‘virtual desktop’ in the cloud for you.
Having your own cloud is a desired option if you don’t like the idea of your data sitting on a cloud hosted by someone like Dropbox or Google. In that case, keeping your data on a separate cloud may be the way to go.
This may also be a feasible option for accountants that don’t have time to learn a cloud-based version of their favourite accounting software.
In a virtual desktop, you can continue using the same software and applications you are used to. You’ll simply log in to a more secure cloud version of your desktop via an online portal.
Migrating to a ‘Cloud-Based Ecosystem’ / ‘Integrated Solutions in the Cloud’
Another option for accounting practices is to switch to using accounting platforms and business tools that already exist in the cloud.
This is the preferred option for firms looking to work entirely online by moving all business systems to the cloud for a truly technology-enabled firm.
For instance, Amazon, Microsoft and Google provide solutions from hosted emails to document management for businesses. Then there are cloud versions of popular accounting software that accountants can use and integrate with third party applications.
To streamline business processes, it comes down to looking at the best practice cloud options available that will make up your ‘technology stack’ of integrated cloud applications that ‘talk to,’ or sync, with each other.
So Why Would You Consider the Cloud?
A cloud solution is often more secure than holding sensitive data on a physical server in an office. That’s because data centres are built for one purpose: to keep servers safe and secure. Data centres have to provide the right amount of air conditioning, top of the line security, automatic backups and put in place disaster recovery systems. Can your accounting practice do that?
The cloud enables accounting practices to scale as they grow through extra capacity. Once in the cloud, it’s easier for accountants to collaborate, work in real time and outsource. Partners can log into the same portal and work remotely on different devices for ultimate flexibility and scalability as a firm expands.
If you are moving systems and processes to the cloud, you are likely to rely on support from an enabler like BPO Connect in case something goes wrong. Instead of the lone IT guy having to come to the office to fix something, your firm can be supported by a virtual IT team that works extended hours.
Often, removing that physical server from the office removes the IT headache of having to maintain IT internally. That leaves more time for doing what accountants do best, wherever and whenever.
So, in a nutshell, that’s what the hype around ‘the cloud’ is all about.