What Are Accounting Industry Best Practices for Public Cloud Adoption?

Filed Under (IT infrastructure, Private Cloud, Technology Trends) by Rick Dhatt on 22-02-2021

Accounting Industry Best Practices for Public Cloud Adoption


Digital transformation is happening in industries far and wide, including the accounting sector. Getting the most out of technology investments is no longer a competitive advantage, it is critical to simply survive. But accounting firms cannot afford to modernize their workflows and adopt the cloud without the proper strategy, structure, and speed. Even the slightest misstep can have long-lasting negative effects.

For accounting firms, the needs of the public cloud are different than those of other businesses and industries. From handling sensitive and non-public data to strict storage requirements, adopting the public cloud has to be done the right way to avoid potentially devastating consequences.

In this piece, we will discuss some best practices for adopting the public cloud in your accounting practice. From what tools are available to help move your firm forward to what pitfalls to avoid, the guidance provided here should put you on the path to successful public cloud adoption.

Stay Safe

Before digging in to the exciting possibilities that the public cloud offers to accounting firms, it is critical to highlight the most important part of your cloud adoption. Security is paramount to your business so keeping an eye on security as you move to the cloud should be top of mind. The good news is that the public cloud offers a number of robust security solutions and add-ons to keep data safe. From malware scanning and intrusion prevention, to DDoS mitigation and data backups, your cloud workloads need to be well-managed and locked down tight.

Because accounting firms are dealing with both financial data and private personal information, also known as “PPI,” security and compliance are more important than in other industries. Make sure that your move to the public cloud includes the presence of mind to think about security each step of the way.

Go With What You Know

While it is always wise to consider new tools and software to serve your clients, accountants will find that most of the tools they use now are available in the cloud. All of the systems you are currently using can be hosted in the public cloud without sacrificing performance or security including Caseware, CCH, Quickbooks, Sage, Doc.it, etc. By hosting your bookkeeping and productivity tools in the cloud, you’ll benefit from better performance, stability, security and the ability to access those applications from any computer or mobile device.

Additionally, solutions like Microsoft’s Office365 run in the cloud and can provide your organization with class-leading email, productivity and collaboration tools. The cloud-based version of Microsoft’s well-known Office suite, Office365 gives you and your team the ability to access email, documents, and other files from any connected device. Powered by Microsoft’s public cloud, Office365 brings a familiar set of tools to the modern age. If you’re currently using Office for productivity and Exchange for email, a move to Office365 makes lots of sense.

Plan Ahead

One of the challenges when moving your accounting infrastructure to the public cloud comes in not thinking ahead to the future. By their very nature, public cloud providers like AWS are constantly updating and upgrading the technology that makes the cloud possible. That’s good news for accountants that can’t afford to fall behind.

However, you owe it to yourself as well to evaluate how the cloud will work for your business as well over time. From data storage to backups to new applications that help you do great work and stay connected to clients, the cloud can and should be a platform upon which you can build your firm’s future.

Be Open-Minded

The public cloud offers performance and reliability that might surprise you if your applications and email and have been running on an old server in an office closet. As such, when moving to AWS or another public cloud, it is in your interest to be open-minded to the possibilities. Perhaps you are used to paper records and don’t realize the public cloud can digitize those files and make your filing cabinets obsolete. Maybe you currently have a local version of your accounting software on your machine and don’t know how much more powerful a cloud-hosted version can be.

Approaching a move to the cloud with your eyes wide open not just about what you think you need but also about what is possible through this new technology will serve your accounting practice well both now and in the future.

Find Your Specialist

In the event your accounting practice doesn’t have an in-house IT department, you’ll need a partner to help navigate your journey. And just as you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist if you had a headache, you shouldn’t work with an IT service provider that doesn’t focus on serving accounting firms. There are IT and managed service providers now for most every industry and business size, so picking a specialist will make your journey to the cloud much smoother.

Since 1999, Welcome Networks has focused on providing top notch IT solutions and services to accounting firms. Our intense focus on providing managed services extends to designing, deploying, and managing public cloud environments that help accountants deliver exceptional work to their clients.

As the saying goes, “Every company is a technology company now.” With Welcome Network at your side, and the public cloud as your technological foundation, your accounting firm is on the right track to reach new heights. Contact us now to learn more about how Welcome Networks can help your adoption of the cloud via email sales@welcomenetworks.com or call 1-866-549-2717.

Quick Facts – Costs of Downtime

Filed Under (IT infrastructure, Private Cloud, Technology Trends) by Rick Dhatt on 01-05-2015

The 2014/2015 tax season is over! Having fun yet? During the tax season rush it is very important to work with an efficient manner. But what happens when your systems go down? CA Technologies conducted a survey with about 2000 organizations across North America and Europe to get their insight on how downtime affects their business.

Several key findings:
1. North American businesses are collectively losing $26.5 billion in revenue each year through IT downtime and data recovery. On average, each company loses $159,331 per year.
2. When business critical systems are interrupted, companies estimate that their ability to generate revenue is reduced by 29%
3. In this post-outage period when data recovery is taking place, company revenue generation is still severely hampered, down by an average of 17%.
4. Each business suffers an average of 14 hours of downtime per year, during which time employees are only able to work at 63% of their usual productivity.
5. 44% of respondents believe IT downtime can damage staff morale and 35% report it can harm customer loyalty

Understanding the risks of system crashes can help prevent loss revenue and customer dissatisfaction. The following infographic summarizes some of the findings that the report covers.

Costs of Downtime Infographic


Reference Links:
The Avoidable Costs of Downtime
The Avoidable Costs of Downtime – Phase 2

How to select a vendor to evaluate your Accounting Firms’ core workflow and IT infrastructure?

Filed Under (IT infrastructure) by Jag Barpagga on 20-04-2014

In a digital environment, it is essential for accountancy firms to remain on top of the Information Technology needs of their firm. A secure, reliable, robust IT infrastructure and sophisticated workflow process forms the core of every accountancy firm, driving higher client engagement, efficiency and linearity.

Accounting firms too battle IT infrastructure costs much like other small businesses. Costs towards software, licenses, upgrades and hardware are a large part of the IT costs, especially for firms with less than 5 or a maximum of 10 employees. These issues are currently dealt with by – virtual solutions, hosted services or cloud based services. Vendors of these subscription-based, managed services help to off-set the expenses of continued investment in IT infrastructure by delivering services on mobile devices as well as fixed workstations. Maintenance, licensed software packages, backend IT operations as well as software management processes are customized and managed and the nitty-gritties and.

Accountancy firms, in the past year, have found higher degree of efficiency by adopting cloud-assisted services. Cloud services are currently available in different form factors– Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) – or hybrid solutions are creating massive ROI for early adopters.

Where IT infrastructure becomes the backbone of the service, it is the ‘workflow processes’ which help firms distinguish themselves, from other firms.

Workflows & Management

Accountancy firms DNA is the workflow. It sculpts the success and efficiency factor of the organization.

Typically, workflows, processes need to be customized and require secure, reliable and connected services. Workflows and processes are now available under two broad categories: First stream is the complete end-to-end workflow solutions. Second stream is an assorted selection of workflow tools that professionals can adopt as per their flow requirements.

Why Accounting firms need workflows and IT services vendors?

According to industry analysts, accountancy firms, and businesses from other niches too, have found tangible benefits and financial gains by partnering cloud-based providers.

Services and benefits vendors deliver

The first benefit has been increased productivity, created by the ease of use factor. The anywhere – any device access has been the primary driver in this business. Cloud-based service vendors are able to deliver, along with secure, reliable and consistent service parameters higher productivity. Remote or off-location work scope or connecting with clients is easier, as it is typically in real-time.

Additionally, cost reductions on IT infrastructure – in terms of expensive annual hardware, component upgrades – compliance with IT audit, government regulations as security concerns too is addressed at the vendor level itself, without accountancy firm have to invest and micro-manage features and factors which are not part of standard work flow and are in the realm of IT management.

Multiplicity complications

However, the challenge for accounting firms today is not in finding the right technology to implement for their organization, but to find the right vendor who can deliver and support the platform they require.

‘Multiplicity’ in the availability of service providers or vendors of IT-supported accountancy practices platform, itself has complicated the process of finding the best-fit provider. Therefore, it becomes important that every accountancy firm is able to engage the right provider or vendor.

How to choose the vendor-partner for IT and Workflow

Accountancy firms should begin the process of finding the ideal vendor for their services, by evaluating industry players.

  1. Background Industry Domain Knowledge is essential for accountancy firms to know and understand the technology and the service factor the vendor will deliver. Without basic/advanced information of real-time benefits and long-term benefits it will bring to the business, it will be difficult to find the best-fit vendor.  Lack of preparation on part of accountancy firm would be akin to diving into an attractive swimming pool, without knowing how to swim!
  2. Short-listing vendors is one of the shortest and perhaps the most comprehensive way of reaching your ideal vendor. As one looks at the current popular accountancy-domain vendors and engages with them to find solution matrices which your practice will require, it allows small business owners’ to gain both an overview as well as objective view of the services.

Researching vendor strengths and historic services, though time-consuming and challenging will in reality simplify the decision making process!

Hence, it is essential that vendors who meet the following requirements are shortlisted.

Criteria for shortlisting vendors:

  1. Start-ups and experienced vendors have their advantages and shortcomings. Small business owners will have to evaluate on an individual level, the degree of sophistication their service will require.
  2. Overly differentiated services will require optimized workflow processes, therefore evaluation of the same and end objective clarity is very important, on the part of small business owners.

Accountancy firms will have to look at core business features in Vendors

  • It is important to find out if the vendor provides comprehensive services. Is it only consulting services, or does it offer process development services as well have to be identified.
  • Will the vendor be able to identify issues workflows, regardless of platform or application will have to be established!
  • Additionally, the vendor will have to ensure entire life-cycles for your process software as well as related services by way of SLAs.
  • Ideally include costs of software upgrades, licenses and more on a monthly subscription basis for best-fit model of operations.

Who to Choose?

The sophisticated products which workflow management vendors and IT infrastructure vendors offer for accountancy firms are unlimited. It is therefore, a challenge for a start-up and a legacy accountancy firm to find the right vendors.

Researching the current players in this segment becomes essential, before the actual hiring happens. It should also be accompanied by evaluating user feedback, industry feedback and peer reviews as well.

As per latest consumer research, available at leading publications the vendors currently available for workflow and productivity support providers include these brands or leading software-based solution providers.

  • The following is the current statistics (part of a survey) vendor preference by various professional practitioners for end to end workflow solution providers:
  1. XCM Solutions – 81%
  2. MetaStorm – 5%
  3. Thomson Reuters FirmFlow – 4.5%
  4. CCH Axcess – 4%
  5. OfficeTools Pro – 2.5%
  6. Others – 3%
  • The following is the statistics of workflow tools vendors which practitioners have adopted:
  1. eFileCabinet – 23%
  2. Thomson Reuters Practice CS &
  3.  GoFileRoom – 19.5%
  4. Esker FlyDoc – 13.5%
  5. CCH ProSystem fx Scan and
  6.  fx Document – 12.5%
  7. Intuit Lacerte & ProSeries DMS – 12%
  8. Bill.com – 8.5%
  9. Others combined – 11%

The following is a list of Federal and State Income Tax Compliance:

  1. CCH ProSystem fx Tax (CCH Axcess) – 33%
  2. Drake Tax Software – 13%
  3. Intuit Lacerte Tax – 12%
  4. CCH Small Firm Services TaxWise – 8%
  5. Thomson Reuters UltraTax CS – 7%
  6. Thomson Reuters GoSystem RS – 5%
  7. Thomson Reuters AgileTax – 4%
  8. Intuit ProSeries – 3.6%
  9. CCH Small Firm Services ATX – 3.5%
  10. RCS TaxSlayer Pro

Expert Speak

IT enabled accountancy practices, with the perfect IT infrastructure and workflow vendor can focus on leveraging productivity and efficiency as well as address budgetary costs of operations.

The add-on benefit of reliable service, which is secure and consistent, is a feature which every cloud-based service vendor will incorporate and customize to encourage optimized work efficiency at competitive price points.

Every professional practitioner or accountancy firm with the RIGHT vendor as a partner, for workflow and IT infrastructure, can optimize productivity and negotiate pitfalls, which can otherwise, undermine the core services of the organization.

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