Cloud technology has transformed the way businesses operate and is quickly becoming the norm (in terms of the type of system that is used). It seems to be the natural step up for many, after years of using on-premise solutions.
But there are some that are still reluctant to make this leap for one reason or another. Could it be price, maybe suitability, or an unwillingness to leave behind long-standing processes? Or could it be that there are still question marks around the reliability of Cloud technology?
In this article we assess the reliability of Cloud-based software, and provide a direct comparison between Cloud and on-premise solutions. We also highlight the benefits that are gained from using reliable technology and give some top tips on how to improve Cloud reliability.
Is Cloud technology reliable?
A big aspect of reliability is how secure technology is. For those in finance, this characteristic is a high priority, due to how sensitive their data is. Some will view the Cloud as being less secure due to its online nature. Data is accessed through the internet, so it’s easy to assume it is more vulnerable to malicious forces such as hackers.
The truth is that Cloud technology is generally safer than traditional systems, as data is stored on an off-site server, and any security-related updates can be made instantly (by a provider with cybersecurity expertise).
When servers are located on-site (perhaps in an office), it is much easier to find them, meaning they are more vulnerable to sabotage, theft, or accidental damage. Businesses may feel they have more control by keeping IT in-house, but it can be extremely expensive to maintain your own server and IT infrastructure.
Other ways to measure reliability include accessibility, functionality, and avoidance of downtime. Cloud-based software can be accessed from any place at any time, as it is not limited to a specific device or location. New functionality can often be added with ease, as Cloud technology is more fluid than traditional software.
And realistically, downtime shouldn’t occur when using the Cloud, so long as the user has a stable internet connection. With all these metrics (and when judging any product generally), the quality will be dictated by the specific product and provider.
Cloud software vs on-premise software
So, what are the main differences between a Cloud-based accounting solution and an on-premise financial management system? As we’ve touched upon, Cloud-based software is usually more secure, protecting teams from costly breaches. But Cloud technology is generally more cost-effective too.
A common Cloud payment model is the Software-as-a-Service approach. With a monthly subscription fee, users can expect system access, customer support, and software updates to all be included. Whereas, with a traditional solution there may be unwanted financial surprises if something goes wrong (or needs upgrading).
An on-premise system can require large up-front costs too, due to the need for physical installations on multiple machines. There may also be a need for a dedicated IT team to maintain the technology, and additional expenditure if the provider needs to send out an employee to apply a fix or update.
Traditional systems will typically be turned off when updates are applied, leading to downtime and a loss of productivity. Whereas Cloud solutions continue to run while updates are applied instantly/remotely. This can be highly advantageous for busy finance teams. It also helps with maintaining compliance (and avoiding non-compliance fines), as updates will take into account legislative changes.
Scalability can be a good measure of reliability too. An ambitious company will likely want to grow continuously. On-premise systems can quickly become unfit for purpose in this scenario, meaning time and money will be lost when regularly moving to new solutions. In contrast to this, Cloud technology typically scales with businesses as they expand.
What are the benefits of using reliable technology?
If a digital system is unreliable, there’s a good chance the data it possesses (such as financial stats) will be of a low quality. This can have a negative impactive on multiple activities, such as reporting and budgeting. The high level of accessibility with Cloud-based accounting software means that data is more likely to be accurate and current, leading to better strategic decisions for the business.
This remote accessibility also means that employees are better positioned to be kept in the loop, as they can always see the latest updates, regardless of whether they’re at home, on the road, or with a client. If you send an email to a colleague, they may not see it until the end of the day. Whereas it’s far more efficient for them to log into the system and see your update instantly. Reliable technology can break down information silos, leading to better cohesion among finance teams and other departments.
If technology is constantly experiencing bugs or outages, this will be detrimental to productivity, as employees won’t be able to complete their assigned tasks. A system that works as expected, without any delays or disruptions, allows workers to achieve their goals, leading to a higher level of satisfaction for them personally. If capacity is increased, the business can take on higher demand, and ultimately generate more revenue.
Reliability also leads to greater efficiency, as there is a better use of time and energy. If financial tasks can be completed faster, to a higher quality, and with fewer mistakes, then performance is enhanced, and costs can be reduced. Cloud technology can often facilitate a level of automation, leading to a more effective use of resources, as employees aren’t bogged down with repetitive work.
Better protection against cybersecurity threats
It’s worth emphasising this point again, as it’s of high importance for many businesses today. Any digital system worth its salt will provide a thick layer of protection from cybersecurity threats. Unreliability in this regard can lead to financially damaging breaches.
Greater customer satisfaction
When productivity, efficiency, and overall performance have improved, there are better outcomes for customers too. If processes are speedier, and output is of a higher quality, customers will likely have a greater sense of satisfaction. Your reliability mirrors the technology’s reliability. If you are seen to be more reliable, customers will probably be more loyal, and your reputation will be enhanced within your industry.
Those using reliable Cloud technology will undoubtedly have an edge over competitors using unreliable technology (or outdated technology). This puts businesses in a resilient position, both in the present and looking forward too. This competitive edge could lead to a greater ability to attract customers, partners, investors, and talent. It’s never been more difficult to attract talent in the finance world. Innovation can make a real difference in this regard.
Best practices for ensuring Cloud reliability
Analyse your current situation
It’s important to take stock of your company’s current standing, in terms of the resources available and the scale of existing processes. This will help with choosing an appropriately sized Cloud-based system (with regards to capacity). Suitability, after all, is a big component of reliability.
Assess your requirements
Suitability can also be linked to the functionality you require. If a system can’t fulfil the tasks you’re looking to complete, it won’t be very useful. If you’re implementing a Cloud solution for a finance team, think about the specific activities the team must fulfil, as this will influence which functionality to look for.
Restructure where necessary
It can be very difficult to find the perfect fit when it comes to technology. In many instances the company will have to do at least some restructuring of their own processes and hierarchies. It may be necessary to create new roles or shift responsibilities among employees, as the software could create new obligations. Or existing processes may need to be removed or remoulded so that they don’t hinder the digital system. If these actions aren’t taken it may not function as expected.
Once you have decided on a budget and a desirable set of specifications, it’s a matter of conducting thorough research to rule out systems that appear to be unreliable. Online reviews can be a powerful tool when conducting research. What is the opinion of companies similar to yours? And does the system have a good track record with backing up data and avoiding a single point of failure?
Choose a reputable provider
The track record of the technology provider is essential too. If you’re looking into Cloud accounting, does the provider have a formidable reputation within this field? The provider’s competence will ultimately determine the system’s reliability. If they are forward-thinking/innovative, this could put you in good stead for the future too, allowing you to remain compliant and on the cutting edge of technology. Their roadmap can be a good indicator of these factors.
Request a demo
If you can receive a demo cheaply and easily, it’s worth doing, as there’s no clearer way to see how a software solution performs (and how adequate it is for your company). During a demo it’s crucial to ask questions about the extent of support/training available, and the intricacies of the implementation process, as these factors will influence how much you can get out of the technology.
Choosing a reliable Cloud solution
At Advanced, we continue to help businesses with transformation through the power of technology. We’re constantly innovating so that our Cloud solutions are relevant and reliable. We provide a Cloud-based accounting solution called Advanced Financials. After years of working with experts in the finance sector, we’re able to offer a system that is for finance people by finance people.
Advanced Financials is a scalable system, allowing finance teams to expand their operations comfortable and at their own pace. Being Cloud-based ensures the software can be accessed/updated remotely, and that the data it holds is as secure, accurate and up to date as possible. With sophisticated reporting capabilities, this financial information can then be used to guide strategy.
With the automation of tasks related to asset management, accounts payable/receivable, purchase management, sales invoicing, bank reconciliation, credit management, expense management, and much more, efficiency is increased and the finance team have more time to focus on being innovative.
If you’re looking to ensure Cloud reliability by implementing a reliable digital system, be sure to read more about our Cloud-based accounting software. Or get in touch to arrange a demo to sample the transformative results.