Have you ever been so frustrated with something that you go completely overboard with a solution? I’m sure it’s tempted all of us. The ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ might be a flat tire… that led you to buying that new Lexus (that you’ve been wanting and had no excuse for). Or missing your daughter’s school play… might have sent you packing for Disneyland (it’s been on your list for a while too). Or a broken Excel macro… that sent you looking for a formula-free solution.
Okay, the latter isn’t overboard. And that’s my point. Sometimes you should shoot for the moon. There’s nothing wrong with the other solutions too, if they’re what you need, want, and can afford.
While we’re a few years in to having so many cloud-based applications, there are a lot of people who haven’t had the time yet to really check into it.
Accounting software has traditionally been an on prem offering. Today CFOs and really any other professional have the option to utilize cloud accounting software. Once you’ve determined at a high level that a software tool might meet your needs, here are some of the top cloud application tips that I share with my colleagues when the topic comes up.
Benefits of Cloud Accounting Software
(Predictable) Costs – I’m a little biased here but I like to know what something is going to cost me. Consistent payments are the ideal. It’s great to also lower your server maintenance and replacement costs. Lower power and cooling bills help too. With cloud accounting applications you also free up your IT team so they can perform their due diligence then be on their way. I’m not opposed to capital spending when its needed but if there’s a good option, shifting to software costs to operating expenses gets a few points too.
- Installation – We’ve all been tortured by difficult migrations. Cloud accounting apps let us skip that whole piece. Yes, you’ve still got to manage your data but that will be the case with anything you do. It’s also a plus that with cloud apps you can just make a footnote on your disaster recovery plans to document its use rather than working out and testing a complete DR cycle.
- Support – Don’t work with someone who doesn’t know your name. From discovery sessions, to your initial training, to periodic troubleshooting, work with people who KNOW their business and are sensitive to yours. If you have a visual learner on your team, online videos, webinars, and instructions with screenshots will make transitioning to new accounting software so much easier. Have a hands-on learner? Watching a demo isn’t going to be nearly as effective as letting them get in and use the app with your own data.
Ongoing Needs a.k.a. Scalability – Make sure your current needs are met and also make sure you’ve covered your expectations for your next 3 to 5 years of growth. Having the flexibility to ramp up at your own pace is a winner too. Sometimes you do want to jump in full force. Other times, starting out with a high level of detail and low level of commitment makes sense too.
Usability – You caught me, maybe I was reaching a bit in order to make ‘cloud’ into an acronym. The point is still important though. If you’re not going to use it, then any software can be a waste of time and money. Having a clean, intuitive user interface isn’t just fluff, it’s important. When accounting dashboards and reports are too cluttered they become meaningless. And unused.
Data – Turning your data into information you can use to run your organization is crucial. Whether we’re talking about a CRM system like Salesforce, an eCommerce tool, or an accounting application, each cloud app you consider should be able to not only process your data but also report on it.
Just like you, I wouldn’t start using any application, process, or device for your accounting without considering the downside and the alternatives. I’d encourage you to explore those as well when you’re considering moving to a cloud-based accounting application. Are you sacrificing convenience, security, or flexibility? Would going with a ‘new kid on the block’ be better than working with someone with a lengthier reputation? Is the security of your data better maintained locally with your own IT staff or with a vendor who specializes in the field?
Using a cloud to house your applications isn’t for everyone. If you’ve got a dedicated IT staff that can provide you with the expertise to maintain your own servers, that’s fine. If you’ve got intermittent internet service and you can’t risk not having access due to that, maybe it’s not for you. That’s okay too.
What current monthly or annual processes do you think might be ripe for transitioning to a cloud accounting solutionenvironment?
Businesses of every description rely on the Budget Maestro™ family of software solutions by Centage Corporation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their business budgeting and planning, financial forecasting, financial consolidation and reporting processes. For more information, take a tour of Budget Maestro, contact Centage, or call 800-366-5111 now.