Every cloud platform is different. Each offers your accounting firm different benefits and features, so it’s important for your business to understand what it needs from the cloud in order to make the right choice. What factors should you consider? Read on to discover what your accounting business should look for in the right cloud provider.

Starting Simple: Do They Offer Technical Proficiency for Your Accounting Firm?

This is the foundation of your search – the first box that should be ticked. Look at their uptimes, security features, backup processes, and disaster recoverability. The cloud provider you choose should be able to provide peace of mind, whether that’s ensuring your business won’t suffer down-time, or losing valuable data (especially your customer’s data!).
Look at the numbers of each cloud provider; their uptime should ideally be 99.9% (otherwise known as “three nines”) or above, which translates to a maximum downtime commitment of only 8.77 hours per year, and they should offer comprehensive details on their security features, recovery protocols, and industry compliance. If they don’t, recognise that as a red flag, and move on.

Growth: Can Their Business Support Your Firm as It Grows?

Hopefully, your accounting business is going to grow over the coming years. With that growth comes larger demands of the services you use – including the cloud. Can the cloud providers you’re looking at support that growth, or will they be a bottleneck for your business as time goes on?
When searching for cloud providers, look at those who can offer scalable solutions. While your business might not need significant resources currently, that could quickly change – and the cloud provider should have the capability to grow with that increased demand.

Can Your Cloud Go with You Anywhere?

One major benefit of the cloud is that you can access it remotely. That means your staff can head to customer’s offices and work just as easily from there as they can in the office. This is probably one primary reason your accounting firm is looking to move to the cloud, so make sure the providers you’re looking at support that freedom.
Does the cloud provider make it easy for your staff to move around and work from anywhere? Ensure whichever provider you choose supports that mobility and freedom to work anywhere.

Make Sure Your Accounting Firm’s Data Remains Yours

Data is a sensitive topic; with GDPR and our local Notifiable Data Breaches scheme popping up in the past few months, data security is more important than ever. Wherever your data goes, your accounting firm should not only have easy access to it – you should also have total control over it.
The right cloud provider should make their data policies crystal clear. What belongs to them, and what remains your property? Your data should never be subject to the provider; ensure that it’s clear what rights the provider has to your data and how they manage its security. Is it encrypted and secure, ready for easy access by your company? Or are there potential loopholes and security risks?
If there are, either ask the provider to clarify and address them, or continue your search.

Finding the Right Fit: Does Their Culture Match Yours?

This one sounds less important – after all, you’re looking for a service. But it’s important that your company ethics and values match up with the provider’s. Culture fit covers a range of areas that should be important in your decision-making process; ethics, values around work, customer satisfaction, and so on.
Does the provider value security, reliable service, and ethical practices? Do they strive for customer satisfaction? Your chosen cloud provider will become an integral part of your business, research their history, look at their previous customer relations, and find out what they value most. If they don’t hold the same values as you do, they may not provide the right service your accounting firm needs.

Are Their Current/Previous Customers Happy?

Following on from the previous point, what is their customer history like? Do they have a history of happy clients, who sing their praises? Or is there a mob of angry and dissatisfied customers?
Look at customer reviews, and if possible, speak to some of their current clients and gain an understanding of what it’s like to work with them. Ideally, you should hear positive experiences. Pay particular attention to the details; has the provider solved a particular problem, or gone out of their way to satisfy a customer’s needs? That extra effort is the kind of service you’re looking for.
Be careful; some customers may have reason to be overly enthusiastic about the service, so if it sounds too good to be true, consider that the customer might be stretching the truth.

Do They Understand Your Business?

Lastly, but most importantly, is finding out whether the cloud provider understands what your accounting firm’s needs are. Many cloud providers offer a standard template that they apply to any business that uses their services. However, each business has different requirements – and your accounting firm is no different.
When searching for the right provider, ensure you’re looking for one who understands what unique requirements an accounting firm has, and offers tailored solutions to provide an excellent service to businesses such as yours.

If the cloud provider ticks all of the boxes above, congratulations! You’ve found the perfect cloud provider for your accounting firm. If you’ve failed to find the right one, reach out to OneSpace. We offer tailored cloud solutions for accounting firms – and we’re sure you’ll love what we have to offer.