We have reached the point where maintaining on premise infrastructure is less practical than using a cloud based solution for workflow software. Here are some reasons why.
1. Remote Access
Applications in the cloud are by design built for remote access allowing anyone with an Internet-enabled workstation to access the program from their office, their home, or the client’s location, whichever is most convenient to the accountant. Data is accessible at any time without needing to go to the office and in many cases, applications can also be accessed on smartphones or tablets, providing even more mobility and client responsiveness.
2. Data Centralization
Working on information in the cloud centralizes all data. This allows firms with multiple buildings or locations to work collaboratively. Cloud applications allow working at any site without the need and expense for local private networks.
3. Reduced Maintenance
Maintaining your own applications usually means scheduling a time when everyone is out of the application, which can delay the updates and requires firm personnel to run the updates. This can lead to delays in critical updates that could impact security or data accuracy. Cloud providers load the latest software and make it available for all users concurrently.
4. Improved Support
When firms call an application vendor for help, the support person has to figure out the firm’s network environment and versions before offering direction. Cloud-based applications all run on the same platform and version, making it easier and quicker to resolve application support issues.
5. Managed Cost
Firms that maintain their own network infrastructure need to estimate their five-year growth and capacity needs and integrate those estimates into their existing network infrastructure, including managing the design, vendor quotes, installation, and ongoing maintenance. In the event of an acquisition or sudden growth, the process must be repeated. This can be an issue, as most firms do not have the optimum IT resources to ensure they are making the best decisions. Cloud-vendors allow for almost unlimited scalability and manage all of the technical aspects and decisions for a fixed fee which makes it easier from both time- and cost-perspectives to manage.
Internal IT people do the best they can to ensure the firm’s networks are protected, but seldom have the ongoing training and resources necessary to make it a full-time responsibility, something that in today’s world is required. The majority of cloud vendors have enterprise-class infrastructures with dedicated security teams, going well beyond the capabilities for any individual firm to implement.
Firm owners need to educate themselves on how digital workflows and cloud technology can improve teamwork and client service. Discussing the items above before renewing any software license will allow the firm to focus more clearly on the optimal solutions that cloud provides.