By Mark Fincham, Chief Technical Partner
How do accountants in North London improve their IT services and make them more secure?
Many already know the answer is to use cloud services because they have on-site servers which are expensive to maintain and a stack of paperwork in their filing cabinets growing daily.
They know that if there was a fire in the office or a virus attack on their systems it would be a disaster.
So why don’t accountants and also solicitors move to the cloud? Probably because most of these professional firms in Finchley, Barnet, Edgware and Watford haven’t got a dedicated IT manager. They haven’t the time – or the in-house experience – to properly evaluate which cloud services to use.
Start digitising legal and accountancy paperwork
As a lot of these firms will already be using Microsoft Office it could be that a move to the new Office 365 is a natural evolution. It provides all the familiar tools but the difference is all your work is securely stored and backed up in the Microsoft Cloud. So, now you can digitise all those legal documents and company accounts with confidence. Your file store room can be emptied or reduced in size. And you can free up more space for more meeting rooms or for expanding your practice.
Office 365 also helps people collaborate in the cloud. Two solicitors in different offices can be simultaneously working on the same document without the need to travel. When you’re away from the office and at any time of day, you can still access the same applications and databases using a laptop or tablet! Which is great if you are travelling, or if sickness, bad weather or a rail strike stops you getting into work.
CloudCIO has helped an Edgware accountant move to Office 365. It was a daunting task he couldn’t face alone. He had a huge amount of paper files he had to keep for six years and his computer filing was multi-layered. It took up to 30 clicks of the mouse to get to some files. To move to the cloud, some paper work had to be digitised and computer filing had to be re-structured and cleansed.
CloudCIO’s Nils Solvang says: “He knew it made sense to migrate but all his file addresses had to be reduced in size because Office 365 only accepts up to a 128 character path/filename. So we helped him create a flatter file structure using familiar abbreviations and understand how to rationalise and improve the file hierarchy.
“Now his clients’ records can be accessed more quickly. And he hasn’t got a garage full of paper to worry about. He still complies with the legal requirement to retain public company records for six years because they’re all stored securely in the cloud. He even shares documents with his clients using the cloud.”
Seek independent advice about cloud services
However Office 365 is just one cloud solution. It’s wise to first seek independent advice from consultants who are vendor agnostic. For example, some start-up businesses might consider Google Apps which also provides a range of secure cloud services.
There are also accountants and solicitors who still need a hybrid solution. They need to retain some servers at their premises because some systems they use – such as financial accounting packages – aren’t yet available in the cloud.
A good independent consultant can help you devise the best hybrid solution. He’ll also help you to re-evaluate on-site software and can discuss with your software vendor whether providing a cloud-based version is part of their development roadmap.
If they haven’t got any clear plans, then it may be time to choose another software option so that you can consider moving from a hybrid arrangement to a fully-fledged cloud solution.
For informal discussion on Cloud Migration in particular contact CloudCIO