By definition, Cloud computing is Web-based computing, whereby shared resources, both software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand through an Internet connection. Instead of having to buy, install, maintain, and manage these resources on your own computer or device, you access and use them through a Web browser.
One of the major advantages to businesses using Cloud based technologies is that it saves time. Rather than managing technology in-house, you pay a third party to manage it for you. What you do with the increase in time is up to you. If you are still building your firm, you’ll have more time to ramp up your marketing efforts. Or, the time could be billed out to a client, or better yet, spent with family! When you consider the opportunity cost of your time, using Cloud based solutions make sound economic sense for most, if not all, firms.
If the opportunity cost of your time isn’t enough to sway you, consider this: In many cases, Cloud technology can save you money. First of all, using Cloud-based solutions requires less hardware! In addition to the cost of the hardware, managing servers in-house will invariably require some sort of technological support. Depending on the complexity, many firms require the assistance of a full time IT manager, or at the very least, an IT consultant on a part time basis. Even with this IT support, servers in your office can be unreliable and pose significant data security risks. Also, most Cloud service providers allow you to purchase different levels of service depending on your firm’s needs, with a pay-as-you-go option. This means you will pay for the applications you need instead of paying for a whole suite of software when you only use a portion of it.
Another benefit of Cloud computing is portability. Cloud technology allows you to work from anywhere, as long as there is an Internet connection. You do not need to go through the hassle of setting up a virtual private network to log into your server in the office. The information you need is stored on a remote server which means you can access your data from your office, your home, or on your iPad on a beach in the Bahamas!
In short, Cloud computing can save accounting firms time and money, and it offers increased access to work documents, allowing the firms to provide better customer service. To be clear, there are risks associated with Cloud computing. When choosing Cloud computing providers you should definitely choose time-tested companies that have clearly defined privacy policies and are in compliance with the SSAE16 Auditing Standard, which is the latest standard for Reporting on Controls at a Service Organization. This will ensure the data you put on the Cloud is safe and secure! Ultimately, you are the only one who can determine if your future is “Cloudy” or not, but there are many compelling reasons to consider utilizing Cloud technologies within your firm.
Author: Chad Brubaker