Following our previous piece on company culture, and finding a cloud provider to fit those requirements, the next piece of the puzzle is finding a provider who understands what your accounting firm’s needs are, and can fulfil those requirements.
What are your business needs?
Before you look at providers and how they fit your firm’s requirements, you need to establish what those requirements are. Now, every business is different—indeed, every accounting firm is different. What works for one firm might not work for another.
For example, some firms work fast and loose, while others work more rigidly. Below, you’ll find the list of needs you should clarify before looking at providers.
• How Do You Do Business?
What we mean by this is, as mentioned above, you first need to understand the approach your company takes to its protocols and practices. For example, are your staff prone to innovation and quick thinking? Do they typically have the capacity for creative solutions? Or are they more reserved, following procedures and best practices to solve problems and deliver results?
It’s worth knowing what your firm’s general approach is to business—this will help you understand whether you’re looking for versatile providers, or providers who have a solution that’s a little more ‘set in stone’—meaning it’s unlikely to change how it works, but will not surprise you or your staff with unexpected updates or wild UI changes.
• What’s Most Important to You?
It’s all well and good providers listing an endless pile of features to you, but if none of them solves your core issues or requests, what’s the point? Before that, however, you need to understand what you’re looking for.
You can’t find the right provider for your accounting firm if you don’t know what it is you’re looking for. Start by clarifying what your basic requirements are—is it a stable platform to minimise downtime? Is it the flexibility to grow as your business grows?
Work out your fundamental needs and let your decision flow from that knowledge.
• How Custom are Your Requirements?
As previously mentioned, not every accounting firm has the same requirements. In fact, they could differ wildly. It’s important to identify where your business differs from others. What requirements do you have that are unique to your firm?
Knowing this means you can look for a cloud provider that offers either that requirement outright or the ability to mould their platform to support it.
Now that you understand your accounting firm’s requirements better, let’s look now at what factors in cloud providers you should pay attention to (and trust us, there’s quite a few!).
Looking at How Cloud Providers Can Meet Your Firm’s Needs:
What to Look For
Okay, we know what you’re looking for; now, we need to understand what cloud providers can offer you. How do you figure out what the right fit is for your firm? Well, start with our list below. Follow this list, and you’ll quickly understand which cloud providers fit your particular business needs—you’ll also figure out if they’re good cloud providers overall!
#1: Have They Worked with Accounting Firms Before?
Step 1 is the first and most basic step, and it’s figuring out whether the cloud provider has worked with accounting firms before. The second part of this is to figure out how many. They might say yes to the question “Have you worked with accounting firms before?”
But iIt’s a different proposition when the answer to “How many?” is one. Narrow your list of cloud candidates by removing those who have little or no experience with accountancy clients. They’re less likely to understand your business as well as others and may not support your unique needs adequately.
#2: The Accounting Software They Use…Do They Support It?
Every business needs accounting software—even cloud providers. Any cloud provider worth their salt should support the software they themselves rely on. If you can, speak to a company representative, and find out what accounting software they’re using.
If they don’t support something they’re using in their own business, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to provide support the range of tools you’re likely using.
#3: What Do They Think You Do All Day?
Figure out whether the provider understands what it is your accounting firm does day-to-day. Do they know what a standard day in your shoes looks like? Do they recognise which software your staff uses regularly?
If they can’t and don’t,, avoid adopting their services. When you sign up for a cloud solution, you’re shifting much of your business to that provider’s platform. If the provider of that platform doesn’t understand what you do each day, how can they tailor their platform to your requirements?
Sure, you could tell them, and work out the kinks over time; but your business doesn’t have that time to spare. You don’t have time to help them get it right. You need a working and complementary cloud platform for your firm now.
#4: What Qualifications And/Or Endorsements Do They Have?
A small one, but equally important; does the cloud provider possess any relevant endorsements by accounting software companies or industry bodies you recognise? It’s a big plus for their credibility If the vendor of the software your firm uses has given them the tick of approval.
#5: Do They Understand Your Business Seasons?
When tax season comes around, accountants get busy. Whichever cloud provider you choose should understand that and be able to support your business as it moves through the typical accounting cycles.
For example, any cloud platform you choose should be able to support the busiest times of the month when your staff are all accessing the platform, as easily as during the quieter periods of the year.
#6: Does the Provider Know When to Apply Patches?
A great cloud provider understands when the ideal times to upgrade and update are. Your accounting firm needs constant access to the platform, so figuring out when that ideal time is key.
OneSpace knows how to deal with situations such as scheduling patches because accountancy clients are our focus and we know that your staff are billable so our platform keeps them productive. Find a provider who understands the way your firm works so that their updates and maintenance doesn’t affect your daily work.
#7: Do They Know You Have Multiple Software Iterations?
Not every one of your clients is on the latest software; a few might be stuck in the early 2000‘s, running out-of-date accompanying software. That likely means your staff are required to use multiple versions of software to account for these variations in client ecosystems.
A great cloud provider should enable your accounting firm to continue being flexible in this way, because your clients come first.
Do the cloud providers you’re considering pass these tests? If not, speak to OneSpace. We specialise in delivering tailored cloud solutions to accounting firms. We might be just the cloud you’re looking for. Speak to us today!