To help prepare your firm for the great migration, here are the major pitfalls of migrating to cloud computing and suggestions as to when you should pull in an expert for assistance.
The benefits show themselves everywhere, from monthly overhead savings to proactive disaster recovery planning that could keep thousands in your business account. Moving everything into the ether means you do not have to reserve space on a physical server.
Your firm only pays for the resources you need and scaling upward is seamless. All your data is (or should be) backed up regularly. Multiple people can access the same tools at the same time, which encourages greater collaboration and inspires productive engagement from your team – whether they are in the office or working remotely.
Here’s some other factors to be aware of in your migration:
Temporary loss of access to your data and systems during a migration, while common, can be costly and anxiety-inducing. The move is not instant; propagation takes time. Transferring substantial amounts of data to a new location can increase the risk of creating a network outage. For some larger firms, that downtime could cost them upwards of $5,600 a minute.
Back up everything you have. Migrate during the lowest periods of usage. Try to work “locally” as everything is moved over. Avoid attempting a major migration like this during busy accounting and tax seasons.
2. Broken Apps
Once your firm is on the cloud, you will quickly learn what applications will still work and which ones will fail with the move. Without proper planning, you may be without the functionality that these apps provided for a few days or until you find a cloud-based alternative.
Before your migration, do a thorough audit of every piece of software or application that you and your team use on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. What utility do they bring to the table? Will they remain operable after the move? Is there an alternative and, if so, is that alternative more robust and cost-effective than what you are currently using?
It is critically important to implement security controls across the entire cloud platform to protect client information and mitigate staff errors. Ideally, clients will be able to upload their information to this platform via a secure portal since email opens the door for data privacy glitches and other costly mistakes.
3. Improper Bandwidth Expectations
Before setting out on your journey, your firm will want to know how much data you are currently working with and how much you are likely going to grow into. Without this knowledge, your team may endure painful latency issues and your client experience may suffer.
Take inventory of your daily speed-based headaches. What apps were slow to load before? Where were the productivity hang-ups? When were the hang-ups? Get the most out of this move. Instead of failing by failing to prepare, you can improve the efficiency of your business from every angle.
4. Initial Costs
For most accounting firms, cloud computing saves money. However, there will be an abbreviated period where the old costs and the new ones will overlap. Cloud computing often requires the purchase of software licenses, which are usually purchased on an annual basis.
Small to midsized accounting firms typically spend anywhere between $10K to $50K annually on technology. Smaller firms may find that moving their most important apps to the cloud will not achieve cost savings. For example, it is critically important that accounting firms make sure their tax preparation software will work on the cloud, and that achieving this is not cost-prohibitive.
For firms that successfully migrate to the cloud, you may rack up an IT tab that includes, for example, eight different platforms for your entire team for the entire year. But remember: your team will be more productive and profitable. You will save on hardware costs, repair costs, office space rentals and the daunting bill that will eventually come from accruing technical debt.
5. Lack of In-House Understanding
One of the key of benefits to cloud computing is knowing that everything is working the way it should. This means network testing, data monitoring, routine maintenance and constantly looking for the next cloud-based “thing” that will give you a competitive edge.
If your firm does not have a dedicated IT guru or department on standby to manage these functions, there are professionals you can engage who are skilled managed IT service providers. These teams have completed countless successful migrations, know all the technical jargon, carry all the accreditations and, most importantly, stay abreast of all the cybersecurity standards, regulations and compliance updates.
They can also assist you in implementing the important security controls you need around your cloud platform to ensure client information is protected and your staff operates error-free. These professionals will not just ensure a smooth transition, but they will likely highlight new advantages and insights to cloud computing along the way.
Depending on what you find out during the planning period, it could be wise for your firm to consider hiring internal talent to manage tasks and support related to your newfound cloud computing power. You can also keep an outsourced agency on retainer if you are looking to save on overhead costs without losing expertise.