Using on-premises software?  Why move to the cloud?

A man operating a computer in a factory space

Let’s talk about the cloud.

For many of you who are using on-premises accounting software such as QuickBooks Desktop and Microsoft Dynamics GP, the notion of replacing it with a cloud platform might sound crazy.   What you have today seems to work. But there may come a point when the benefits of a cloud-based platform make sense. Cloud-based solutions generally have lower upfront costs and capital expenditure, faster deployment and easier administration.  If you’re unsure about whether to make the switch, here are some questions you should ask yourself.

Can I afford the additional capital expenditure, customization costs and ongoing maintenance costs required for an on-premises solution?

Upfront costs for on-premises deployments are higher and are generally considered capital expenditure. On-premises systems can be customized at additional costs to meet your exact needs, though generally you are responsible for their maintenance and future changes. Smaller companies may also have more difficulty accessing onsite resources that are available to larger organizations, including the latest technical and subjectmatter expertise.

Can I access my data and my applications when I need them?

Reputable cloud providers offer system availability of 99% or higher and 24×7 support which means you can access and analyze your financial and customer data at virtually any time and get support when you need it.

Does my on-premises application fully support remote work?

In the US alone, 87% of employees working remotely during the pandemic would prefer to continue working from home at least one day a week. Post pandemic, 42% of current remote workers say that if their current company doesn’t continue offering remote work options long term, they will look for a new job. That’s helping to drive the Great Resignation. Additionally, many companies are starting to encourage remote work to decrease their real-estate and office support costs.

Even if your organization doesn’t currently offer remote work, you may want to offer it in the future. In the same survey, more than a third of employees say they are now more productive, and an even higher percentage of executives polled, 52% to be exact, say employees are more productive now than they were before the pandemic.

To successfully work remotely, the CPA Journal, a publication of the New York State Society of CPAs, identifies key technology pieces that likely need to be in place. These include “a cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, a centralized file depository management system, video conferencing software, and various financial and project management products.”

Can I scale up and down operations on demand?

During the pandemic, many organizations saw their cash in-flow decrease. In the US alone, 47% of small organizations reported increasing delays in cash in-flow due to the pandemic, with 44% saying that this has affected their operations. With cloud, you have fewer fixed IT expenses and can scale up or down your resource consumption more quickly to match your anticipated cash in-flows. Now there’s growing concern about inflation worldwide and, while not inevitable, a global recession. Moving from a fixed-cost model to a more variable-cost solution gives you added flexibility.

Do I have the resources in place to prevent, detect and recover from data breaches, both intentional and accidental?

With well-publicized data breaches over the past years, security is top-of-mind for companies of all sizes. While most data breaches are financially motivated and perpetuated by outsiders, 85% of data breaches are due to a human element such as fat-finger errors, losing a memory stick with unencrypted data, falling for a phishing scam or failing to install the latest software updates. With regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act, companies who fail to adequately protect data are subject to financial penalties that can be significant; in the case of GDPR, up to 4% of your company’s global annual revenues.

Beyond penalties and potential ransoms, your firm’s reputation, trusted relationships and long-term revenue become at-risk. Reputable cloud vendors have strict standards in place to keep your data safe by implementing a zero-trust security model or comparable and by continuously investing in the technology and personnel to proactively protect your data at-rest and in-transit. To further allay fears, prospective buyers can request a third-party security audit of a prospective supplier if the supplier does not publicly list key certifications, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Privacy Act, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and SOC 2 compliance.

Do I need to have the latest functionalities and digital technologies and future-proof my technology investments?

Beyond remote access, companies, particularly growing companies with multiple entities, look to automate workflows and leverage cognitive intelligence to improve productivity and decision making. Open application programming interfaces, standards and technologies inherent to cloud-native applications simplify major functionality upgrades and expand access to third-party tools and libraries that can help businesses streamline collaboration, automation and reporting across entities. If you or your team have crafted numerous workarounds to accommodate your legacy financial and accounting systems’ shortcomings, then it’s probably time to consider moving to a cloud-native financial management platform.

Am I or my colleagues spending too much time gathering data and running spreadsheets?

It may be time to change your legacy system if you are augmenting it with multiple spreadsheets and other reporting tools. If you rely on spreadsheets because your current system doesn’t provide the insights and reporting that you need, then you likely have inconsistent and potentially outdated versions of the original data. Various studies have shown that almost nine out of 10 spreadsheets contain errors, with the majority due to human errors. These differences are then propagated internally leading to different analytical outcomes and decisions. In addition, you may want a deep dive into your expenses and processes, particularly for organizations with multiple entities and charts of accounts for better decision making. A cloud-native financial management platform, with a wide range of reports and dashboards for forecasting and visualization, is better suited for this task than a spreadsheet.

Why choose cloud-native?

If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop or Microsoft Dynamics GP, you have a lot of options in the cloud. One of these is QuickBooks Online, which is a cloud-enabled version of QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Online has less functionality than QuickBooks Desktop, and more problematic is its inability to handle multiple entities without unique QuickBooks instances. Using either version of QuickBooks, each entity requires its own separate login and database instance. Multiple-entity consolidations can take hours to days to complete because the data from each entity must be exported and manually combined in spreadsheets regardless of any automation within a unique instance.

Rather than a lightweight cloud-enabled version of desktop software, consider switching to a cloud-native platform. These are built in the cloud for the cloud and are highly modular, so it’s relatively easy to add functionality. Their loosely coupled multitenant architecture makes them more future-proofed and cost-effective to deploy than traditionally designed single-tenant systems. As a result, cloud-native applications are generally easier to maintain, develop on, adapt and integrate together resulting in:

  • Seamless bug fixes and system upgrades
  • Shorter periods between major feature releases
  • Faster support of new standards and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI)

If your current solution lacks the capabilities that you need or the ability to support your projected growth, then it may be time to explore cloud-native solutions. According to Gartner Research, 70% of mid-sized organizations by the end of 2024 will have a cloud-native system, up from 54% in 2020.

Cloud-native financial management platforms combine the customizability of an on-premises offerings with the 24×7 access, higher security and lower maintenance of the cloud. Cloud-native solutions deliver the full benefits of the cloud due to their use of cloud technology, de facto standards and open APIs. They are easier to integrate, scale, and adapt, delivering you the confidence and a flexible system to meet your future needs.