If you are a modern accounting firm, the chances are that you manage your accounting tasks digitally. You probably use a tax software solution to accomplish all your tax filing needs.
However, with the tax season approaching in a few months, now is the time to rethink your tax strategy and consider moving to the cloud. This is one area where accounting firms and CPAs have been reluctant. However, the future appears to be promising with the increasing popularity of the cloud, enabling you to do your calculations anywhere and granting on-demand access to tax data.
Here are the steps you need to follow for moving your tax practice to the cloud.
Step 1: Determine the Type of Cloud You Need
Your tax practice can run on multiple types of cloud – private cloud or public cloud. In the public cloud, you will share the IT resources with other users. Everything is managed by a service provider. The service provider takes care of everything like deployment, scalability, data security, maintenance, and troubleshooting of IT issues. All you need to do is pay the subscription fees.
In the private cloud, you have complete control over the cloud environment. Your service provider will configure all the settings as per your requirements, and you will not have to share the resources with anyone.
You need to choose the type of cloud depending upon your requirements and the kind of solution you need for your tax firm.
Step 2: Select the Right Cloud Provider
Choosing the right cloud provider is essential to move your tax practice to the cloud. You need to choose a cloud service provider that meets your specific tax requirements. Not selecting the right providers can hamper your business processes and result in security issues.
Hence, it would be best to create a checklist and carefully evaluate multiple cloud providers based on your requirements. The primary aspects to look for are:
- Uptime – Uptime is the availability of your tax data per year and is calculated in percentage. Most reputed service providers offer at least 99.99% uptime.
- Support – Support is a non-negotiable aspect when it comes to the cloud. You should also evaluate the response time of the provider while choosing one. Moreover, support during non-business hours is also a must if your tax firm deals with international clients.
- Disaster Recovery – Disaster recovery is the capability of the service provider to get your business back on track when a natural disaster occurs. It is usually included in your subscription fees. It is also advised to stay away from providers that charge extra money for the same.
- Data Security – The security of data is a key aspect for every tax firm. You deal with critical information that has to remain in safe hands. Most reputed service providers offer security features such as – multi-factor authentication, role-based access, end-to-end encryption, and the like.
- Backup – Data backup is a must when it comes to tax data. However, its frequency plays an important role in choosing the right provider. It is advised not to settle for a provider that does not backup your data at least once per day.
Step 3: Create a Roadmap
Now that you have the necessary knowledge about the cloud, the types of cloud environments, and the details of the service providers, it is time to create a roadmap of your move to the cloud.
It is important to highlight which business components will move first to the cloud. The decision should be based on business priority -tax data, sales, payroll, and HR. Another approach can be to move all your business processes to the cloud if it helps your business.
Creating a roadmap can be significant if you choose a gradual move to the cloud. This way, you can analyze your business performance and identify the areas that improved the most.
Step 4: Establish Performance Baselines
Establishing performance baselines means analyzing the performance of your tax process before and after the cloud migration. It is necessary to provide a real validation of the process improvements as per your expectations.
Set a baseline for every key business aspect that you feel is crucial for your tax firm. Some important key business aspects are:
- User Experience
- Response Time
- Application Performance
- Cost Savings
Step 5: Perform a Trial Migration
Moving your tax practice to the cloud is a significant step for your business. It is vital that everything goes as per the plan with minimal time wastage.
Get in touch with your cloud vendor and ask for a trial migration. Most service providers will agree to it and will help you in the whole process. During the trial process, evaluate how your business applications perform on the cloud. It is also crucial to see if the migration transfers all your data or there is some data loss. However, in most cases, this should not be an issue as reputed service providers hire skilled IT professionals for data migration and use high-performance computing servers for data processing.
Step 6: Complete the Transition
If the trial run is successful, you will get a fair idea of how your business processes will change upon the migration. It is now time to complete the transition by executing the plan and move the selected applications/business processes to the cloud.
Depending upon the extent of the migration, you will witness improvements in the business processes.
Moving your tax practice to the cloud is the need of the hour for modern tax firms. It offers multiple benefits such as remote access, better data security, high-performance computing, and much more.
Want to know how the cloud can benefit your tax business? Get in touch with our Solutions Consultant at 855-223-4887.
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