[IMGCAP(1)]Adopting the Cloud is an emerging challenge in the CPA profession and the reality is that the cloud will touch every aspect of your organization. In some cases these changes can be predicted, but it is not realistic to be able to predict all of them; you need to ask the right questions.
Asking the right questions about how the cloud affects the variety of stakeholders at your firm or the bottom line is an important exercise for your firm to take part in so you can reduce the amount of unknowns. That said, this article is designed to help you get a start on your analysis.
Cost of the Cloud
The fact is you have a limited amount of resources— time, money, people, equipment— and the way you allocate these resources speaks to your priorities as a firm. In addition, understanding the true cost of IT is no easy endeavor, thus many firms, given their resources, are unable to consider the full picture.
The opportunity cost of cloud adoption may be that you decide to free your IT staff from doing updates and place them on more strategic initiatives instead; or enabling your auditors who work in the field to access their applications wherever there is an internet connection; or no longer being in the business of owning servers; the list goes on. Keep in mind that the cost of adopting the cloud is also the cost of not adopting the cloud.
Questions to Ask Related to Cost:
- How is budget/cash flow impacted by an operational IT budget expense versus a capital expenditure based budget?
- What is the cost of an on-premise implementation versus a cloud implementation?
- How does moving to the cloud impact your spend on disaster recovery?
- What is the total technology spend per FTE annually over 3 years and how will the cloud impact this? (Include: all software, IT staff salaries, 3rd party consulting spend, etc.)
- How will the cloud impact how much time are partners and staff spending on technology administration? (Include: software updates, vendor management time, planning, committee meetings, issue resolution, etc.)
- How does each scenario scale and how does that impact cost accordingly?
Organizational Change in the Cloud
Changing how and in what capacity people work across an organization is not easy. Is the culture of your firm prepared to adapt to the cloud? Here are some questions to ask related to organization change:
- What is the firm’s view of remote workers and/or working from home? (the cloud will require the firm to address this policy)
- How will the Cloud impact your other locations?
- What routine tasks will be impacted by the cloud?
- Will certain aspects create more or less work for individuals?
- How will your employees be trained on the new platform?
- How will being in the cloud impact how you do audits?
- Would overall system performance be improved in the cloud?
- What impact (if any) does the cloud have on your phone system?
Stakeholder Impact in the Cloud
The cloud affects your organization at all levels but perhaps none more so than the partners given the P&L factor. Here are several questions to ask your stakeholders or partners:
- How will the cloud impact your staffing levels?
- Will the cloud impact your peace of mind?
- Does this fit your business objectives over the next 5-10 years?
- Do cloud vendors know your business model and core applications?
Roy Keely is the VP of Market Strategy at Xcentric, which specializes in Cloud Computing and IT consulting for CPA firms. He offers a broad range of experience in marketing, sales and consulting and is passionate about technology, productivity and market strategy. Roy is a native Texan and graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in marketing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678.297.0066 x 525.