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For Accounting Professionals: Private Hosted Solutions and Helping Clients Cope with the New Normal

Accounting professionals have a great opportunity right now to help their business clients through the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. With work-from-home mandates and increasingly fluid reporting requirements to support grants, loans and loan forgiveness, business owners need all the support and good advice they can get. And today they will appreciate the help even more.

The global pandemic is changing the landscape of business worldwide. Many small businesses in the US have either closed or are on the brink, looking for ways to keep the doors open and employees paid. Supply chains are strained, distribution has slowed, and workers are being asked to work from home when possible.

These are challenging times, but the guidance and support the accounting professional can provide to business clients can be just what they need to help keep the doors open and workers producing. Remote access, cloud hosted applications and data, and real-time accounting support and management reporting are the weapons you and your clients will use to fight the current challenges.

Help your clients deploy cloud hosting services for their entire business.

Running applications and storing data on an in-house network increases the cost and complexity of supporting a remote or mobile workforce — for you and for your clients.

Tools to support communication and collaboration are critical when a workforce is distributed, operating from a variety of locations and with whatever device is available. Yet business owners, operators and managers may find that collaboration apps and other online tools don’t always provide access to what is required to do all their work.

To address the problem of working on client data, some accountants may install the client software and copy the data to their own in-house networks. This creates a situation where the accountant is (unnecessarily) paying for computing resources to support client applications and data in addition to their own. This increases the cost of internal operations for the accounting firm and can impact overall productivity.

More to the point, this model only supports doing after-the-fact work for the client, which results in the data and reporting being outdated and far less useful to the client’s daily decision-making. This model also does nothing to help the firm with their own possible work-from-home needs.

Accounting professionals wanting to provide services to clients proactively rather than reactively must have real-time access to the same applications and data that the client uses. The old fallback to remote control solutions is one approach, yet it is not really an optimum solution to the problem (slow, inefficient, sometimes expensive).

Remote control, like LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, or PCAnywhere (blast from the past for some!) expose the professional to more of the client computing environment than necessary, introducing risk and the potential for liability if something goes wrong. And those remote control solutions are single-user, reducing productivity because the client cannot use their system while the accountant controls the computer. Such outdated remote control solutions also rely on the availability and function of the on-premises computer. If the on-premise computer is not turned on and accessible, then the remote user will not connect. (There goes that day’s productivity…)

It may be that online or web-based applications are an option, but for many businesses they may not be a viable solution. QuickBooks Online (QBO) is simplified software and is not appropriate or usable for many businesses types. The QBO subscription model is per-company, limiting options and reducing cost-efficiency for businesses that operate out of multiple entities. And with QBO, even the ability to backup and preserve data is very limited without specialized services and tools.

Shared hosting services might be closer to the right answer, yet shared hosting is generally only useful for very small organizations and supports only core QuickBooks functions, so it can be as restrictive as QBO. Shared infrastructure used by the those hosting platforms can also introduce significant risk to every business on the platform because ransomware and malware can easily move through connected file systems and servers across different customers.

Compare shared services to a public pool where it is very easy to transmit from one person to another. In shared platforms an intrusion can end up spreading malware to the entire network, resulting in days or even weeks of outages. Unfortunately, disaster recovery does not always include recovery of all customer data.

The best solution for business is private, managed cloud hosting service delivered on a trusted and proven platform like Microsoft Azure.

Hosting service that takes advantage of the Microsoft Azure cloud platform allows the business to centralize access to all their important applications and data, making it possible to provide complete application functionality for all users no matter where they are located — without the risk of anything being spread across customers.

Using the Azure platforms means that security, fault tolerance, scalability and agility are designed into the solution rather than being extras from the hosting provider. This technology enables the agility to meet changing business needs, scaling systems up or down as necessary. This massively scalable platform allows servers to be right sized now without concern for future resource requirements. That is, no buying ahead based on possible future hardware needs; you grow/reduce hardware as needed whenever needed. There are no arbitrary limitations placed on the applications the business needs to run on the cloud platform, and no fees for running more apps.

Making all the applications and data available to workers, when and where they need them, is the key to promoting higher levels of productivity while delivering the data management needs to support daily decision-making.

Now that you have access, provide this proactive support and help business owners make the right decisions.

Better data and reporting to support operations and finance is more important than ever, especially when having the right information can mean the difference between keeping the doors open and closing for good. Once the accounting professional has this real-time access to client systems, they can work cooperatively to ensure that the right information is available when it is needed. As business owners seek to take advantage of grants and loan programs available due to the pandemic, the financial and other performance data becomes even more essential in terms of developing qualification and eventually forgiveness of the loan.

These are just some of the ways that business owners benefit from a closer relationship with their accounting professionals. Noobeh’s hosting solutions like QuickBooks on Azure help businesses and the accountants working with them get the information and insight they need to make wise operating decisions — especially today.

Joanie Mann

Joanie Mann

Focus is on Digital business transformation for small/medium businesses. As the principal consultant for Cooper Mann Company and Noobeh's Director of Cloud Services, Joanie Mann provides support and guidance for businesses seeking to implement cloud solutions and hosted services in their IT environments and consults with solution providers to develop or expand application hosting and application delivery service offerings. Joanie is the Director of Delivery for Noobeh Cloud Services (a division of Mendelson Consulting), and is on the board of advisors of ACE Cloud Hosting & MyRealData.com

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