Moving Your CPA Firm to the Cloud?

You likely recall Benjamin Franklin for his common-sense sayings and wisdom. And, when it comes to cloud implementations, one of Franklin’s witticisms offers insight that is spot-on: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If you’re planning on moving your CPA firm to the cloud, let SymTec be your wise guide and sage that will get you there, without fail.

Because preparation takes many forms when undertaking a transition to the cloud for accounting firms. It begins with vendor selection and extends to pre-implementation actions to “go live,” and beyond.

What to Know and Do When Moving Your CPA Firm to the Cloud

Here’s a list of tips and advice that will help you prepare for success – and a smooth cloud implementation for CPAs (all aspects of which SymTec can guide you through):

  1. Thoroughly vet potential cloud providers, checking professional reviews and client references. Consider all the key factors your research reveals. Don’t let cost be the sole decision driver.
  2. Remember that communication is essential to a successful migration.
  3. Designate an in-house point of contact (and a team, if the size of your organization warrants). Assigning someone to this role will facilitate information exchange. This person should act as the sole conduit of information to/from your cloud provider and to/from staff.
  4. Hold preliminary meetings with your cloud provider to gain a mutual understanding of expectations and deliverables and prepare a project plan. Thereafter, schedule migration calls at least weekly to ensure all aspects of the migration process are being addressed and all project deadlines are being met.
  5. Regularly brief employees on the overall effort and any specific issues that could affect work performance before, during or after migration. Beyond keeping everyone “in the loop,” information sharing helps build staff buy-in.
  6. Make a complete list of all applications in use, including licensing information and update schedules. Survey the staff to assure the list is comprehensive. Note any customizations such as add-ins, linked applications and so forth.
  7. List all user mailboxes, noting any customizations such as mailbox rights, mailbox forwarding, groups, etc. Make this information available to your cloud provider early in the process so an identical environment can be constructed, making the transition as seamless as possible.
  8. Contact existing vendors (application, phone, etc.) to assure their product can function in a cloud environment. Identify vendors that may need to assist during the migration and ensure their availability during the selected migration timeframe.
  9. Consider engaging a secondary (failover) ISP. As the cloud environment relies on a solid internet connection, you will not be able to access your files and applications if your primary connection goes down. Note: Cloud providers can configure two ISPs to automatically failover in the event that one connection is not functioning as expected.
  10. Document all the hardware currently in use, including network scanners and printers. Associate each item with a specific staff member. This list will allow setup and testing prior to the actual migration and avoid staff frustration later.
  11. Be proactive and clean up your data and user mailboxes before moving your CPA firm to the cloud. Advance effort will yield benefits in terms of better data organization, streamlined file structures, increased network speed and lower data storage
  12. Select a cloud migration date that builds in some downtime and doesn’t interfere with day-to-day business operations. Keep important deadlines, conferences and busy periods in mind when picking the date.
  13. Schedule mandatory staff training sessions prior to the actual go-live date. Review any new protocols that staff must follow once your accounting firm cloud migration occurs. Establish an environment where staff members feel comfortable asking any and all platform-related questions.
  14. Assure there is ample time for staff to test everything in a non-production environment before going live. Testing should occur a few weeks prior to the actual migration date so there is sufficient time to address issues. Again, be mindful of peak periods and key events when selecting a time.

Also, before moving your CPA firm to the cloud you’ll want to have your cloud provider (hopefully that’s us) on site on the go-live date(s) to assist all users in real time and respond to any questions they may have.

Further Reasons Accountants Should Move to the Cloud ASAP

Accounting Web has some words of wisdom for CPAs moving to the cloud as well:

“The cloud is a perfect fit for accounting, for the following reasons:

Security

When you’re using cloud software, everything is always protected—stored on multiple servers, secured with the newest and most advanced technology to make sure no one can access or delete your stored data. This is a big improvement over traditional PC-based accounting software, which is exposed to countless risks: Everything is usually located on one computer or server, which can crash and leave you with nothing. The constant information transfers through USB drives are also risky. And the backups can be expensive and time-consuming, especially when you must do them every couple of days.

Cloud software providers work under the strictest security guidelines, protected by “James Bond” style measures, such as fingerprint and retina scans. Multilayered anti-virus programs work to prevent any breach to the servers. Cutting-edge data encryption software also makes it virtually impossible for data thieves to extract any useful information. So, even small CPA firms get the same security benefits as Fortune 500 companies.

Real-Time Live Data

Cloud users have all their financial information continuously updated, which allows them to make decisions based on the newest information available. Compare this with “traditional” accounting software, which requires time-consuming manual data inputs. After the initial transfer of the data from local PCs to the cloud, the process of moving your CPA firm to the cloud becomes almost completely automated.

Accessibility

For many accountants, the biggest perk to using cloud software is the ability to access the data anytime, anywhere. If there’s an Internet connection, you can log in and manage your accounting information from a PC, a laptop, or even your phone. PC-based cloud platforms don’t have this option. It can be a major nuisance when you can only access the data from only one place. Multiple managers end up sending files back and forth, which is not only time-consuming but risky.

No Maintenance Issues

With the cloud, you can focus entirely on your accounting business. Forget worries about the software: All the problems that occur will be taken care of by the software developers [and business IT specialists like SymTec]. All you have to do is report anything that goes wrong and server staff will be right on it. No more malfunctions, errors, lost data and other fires that need to be put out. Simply do what you do best, and leave the technical software details to the pros.”

Moving Your CPA Firm to The Cloud with Confidence

SymTec is here to help you when moving your CPA firm to the cloud demands IT-professional guidance – call us at 1-800-489-1706 or contact us by secure email form to get started right away.

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