Cloud technology has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. It is a one-stop solution that offers the flexibility to access information from anywhere at any time, along with a common platform to share and edit files in real-time.
Many industries have benefited from cloud technology, and accounting is one of them. However, with its growing popularity, there have been many cloud hosting providers in the market. It makes choosing the right one a tedious job for most accounting firms.
In order to seamlessly integrate cloud technology with the accounting practice, here are six things your firm needs to know about cloud hosting providers.
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1. Experience Matters
Accounting firms require a reliable cloud hosting provider to handle all of their data and activities. Therefore, it is crucial to check for their experience and prior record in providing cloud hosting services.
The significance of the service provider’s expertise in a particular field helps to provide the right solutions to your business. If a provider is proficient in hosting accounting applications and data, they would further assist in deploying precise configurations for your firm depending upon your requirements.
Moreover, the number of customers cloud hosting providers have handled gives an indication of the first-hand experience to cater to the accounting firm’s needs. It also portrays the reliability factor of the service vendor.
2. Consider Security
Data securing data is one of the most crucial parameters for accounting firms. There are many malicious attacks that can compromise the privacy, integrity, and availability of financial data.
According to a report by Accenture, the financial service industry has to pay the highest cost for cybercrimes, accounting for an average of $18.3 million.
Adopting cloud hosting helps protect the business information from any losses. As the data is stored at geographically isolated data centers, the chances of theft and accidents leading to its loss are eliminated.
Additionally, many reliable cloud hosting providers implement security standards at every level to safeguard from malicious attacks.
Always check if the provider takes measures that include:
- 256-bit data encryption and TLS 1.3
- Multi-factor authentication
- Multiple firewalls
- Antivirus and anti-malware system
- Fraud Detection
- Hardened and Patched OS
Also, there should be 24/7 CCTV surveillance, on-premise security personnel, fire-alarms, biometric scanning, environment control, and more for better protection at the physical level.
3. Review SLA
Managing an accounting firm needs an organized structure to function properly. Therefore, it is crucial to implement services that optimize business architecture for better availability and communication.
Cloud hosting providers list out the terms, conditions, and standards in a document called SLA (Service Level Agreement). It often helps give you a clear picture of what you can expect from the service vendor. Some of the things that you must check in SLA before selecting the cloud service provider include:
- Uptime guarantee
- Backup in case of failure
- Vendor lock-in policy
- Technical assistance
Uptime guarantee ensures the availability of the servers for the maximum time. Many competent cloud hosting providers promise up to 99.99% uptime, i.e., the downtime will account for less than 6 minutes in the whole year.
Moreover, SLA states how the provider will compensate for any possible losses in case of any failure, the terms to quit the services, and the support you can get from the cloud vendor.
4. Go for BCDR
Moving accounting practice to the cloud ensures that all of the information is stored in the server managed by the hosting providers. Hence, you can access it from anywhere and at any time. But, if this server is down for maintenance or for any other unforeseen circumstances, your business operations are disrupted.
To counter this issue, many cloud hosting providers offer the BCDR (Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery) service. The entire accounting process is replicated at multiple data centers that are situated at geographically isolated locations. This redundancy ensures that even if one of the centers is down, your firm can retrieve information at all times from other sites.
Some cloud hosting providers offer BCDR plans as an add-on service, and one needs to pay extra charges for the same. However, some offer it as part of their services. So, do check this criterion before choosing the provider.
Recommended Reading: How To Choose The Right Cloud Provider? | Journey To The Cloud Video Series (Part 4)
5. Check for Support
Every accounting firm can face IT-related issues and require support to fix them. Many firms hire a dedicated team of professionals to maintain any hardware problems. Cloud hosting eliminates the need to employ them as the providers are responsible for troubleshooting any such issues.
Always go for cloud hosting providers that offer round-the-clock support. Technical support must be provided by certified experts who know how to handle any failure of IT resources.
Also, check for the platforms through which you can contact them in case of an emergency, such as call, email, and chat.
6. Analyze Pricing Plans
Budget planning is a crucial part of operating an accounting firm. It becomes essential to implement budget-friendly solutions, and cloud hosting reduces CAPEX and OPEX drastically. But, there are various pricing plans offered by different service providers.
Evaluate the plans that will suit your needs. For example, most cloud hosting providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing that allows you to pay only for the services you are using. As cloud hosting enables convenient upscaling and downscaling of resources, the pricing structure should be customized as per the requirements.
Moreover, some service vendors provide refund options while others offer a free trial for a specific period. Do check out their terms before selecting a provider for a streamlined workflow.
Cloud hosting is drastically changing the face of the accounting industry. In order to enhance functionality and serviceability, it is crucial to make the right choice. The tips mentioned above summarizes what you need to know about cloud hosting providers before taking further steps.
Are you looking for a cloud hosting provider to streamline your accounting tasks? Chat with our Solutions Consultant to get a no-obligation free trial.