Switching from On-Premise to Cloud Solutions: The Experts Weigh In

By | Abila, Accounting, Data, HR, MIP Fund Accounting, Nonprofit | No Comments

By now you’ve probably read quite a bit about the benefits of switching from on-premises to cloud-based solutions. Forrester research reports that 50% of companies plan to increase their cloud spending in the next 12 months. About 92% have prioritized cloud computing as a new initiative in the next 18 months. Cloud computing isn’t the concept of the future; the future is here, and most companies will run at least one or more cloud-based software programs within the next year

As you consider switching all your software to the cloud, you may have questions. What do you need to know to make the transition? What benefits will your organization obtain from the switch? Is the cloud a better solution?

Five Big Benefits of Cloud-Based Systems

Consider the following  five benefits of cloud-based systems and how they may impact your organization.

  1. Obtain a clear picture of financial information: Quickly view the entire financial picture for your nonprofit organization. Cash flow, membership dues, sales from products, event/conference income, and much more can be reviewed easily and quickly. Information from multiple departments feeds into one system to provide a comprehensive big-picture view of the financials for your organization.
  2. Decreased reliance on spreadsheets: Many nonprofits still use spreadsheet-based accounting. Spreadsheets offer a simple method for running basic accounting information but lack the sophistication of combining information into one easily accessible location. Spreadsheets tend to be finicky, with formulas and formatting that can be tricky to use. And one small data entry error on a spreadsheet can lead to multiple problems later. Cloud computing reduces these chances. Reports can be run directly from cloud-based systems without fussing about formatting.
  3. Enhanced visibility: Cloud-based systems enhance and increase visibility of data across all parts of the organization. Everyone shares their information in a cloud-based system, with access available to all departments and team members.
  4. One data source: On-premises software can lead to multiple versions of the same document. Chasing after the latest version and reconciling changes can take a great deal of time. Cloud systems always provide the latest reports and information.
  5. Integrate office processes: Cloud systems integrate front and back-office operations into one system. You’ll no longer need to maintain separate systems for both.

On-premises solutions have many drawbacks. Not only do they lack integration and visibility, but they need updates. Updates must be performed individually on each piece of equipment. Cloud solutions update automatically so that the latest version is always running.

The Main Difference Between On-Premise and Cloud Solutions: ROI

Lastly, the biggest difference between cloud-based and on-premise solutions is the ROI.  With cloud solutions, efficiency increases immediately after adopting the cloud. The system gains in value with a positive ROI as it saves time and money elsewhere in the organization.

Not so with on-premise systems. Such systems begin losing ROI from the moment they’re installed. With constant updates and upgrades, purchases of special hardware and equipment to run them, and salaries for people to maintain them, these systems increase in cost and decrease in ROI.

Clearly, the winner is the cloud. With so many organizations adopting cloud-based solutions and more nonprofit software offered via the cloud, it’s time to make the leap to the cloud.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you improve and grow your accounting practice. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Apps that Make Accounting Easier

By | Accounting, Data | No Comments

While you’ve probably downloaded plenty of apps for your personal smartphone, there’s a wealth of apps for accountants and accounting support staff that can make everyone more productive. These include apps for communications, file sharing, and note taking that enhance all areas of your practice.

Charlie: Prepare for Client Meetings

Preparation before an important client meeting helps you learn more about who you’ll meet with and how you can build rapport. Knowing that your client likes golf, you can schedule a golf outing, or at least have some news from the world of sports as an icebreaker for the meeting.

Charlie, a free app, does this homework for you. Charlie scours the web to find out more about people you’re meeting with and prepare a report with publicly available information. It can tell you which mutual friends you have in common and items of interest that make it easier to begin conversations with new clients. Charlie is currently available for iOS only.

Skype Your Next Meeting

Perhaps you’re traveling and need to meet with your team to brief them on the results of an important client meeting. Or your assistant needs to work with a freelancer on the design of a new brochure for your accounting office. Skype is the app of choice for many people. It features video, audio, and text-only messages, allowing you to choose the level of contact you wish for your meeting. Calling within the Skype network (a “Skype to Skype call”) is free no matter where the two parties reside; there are charges for calling from Skype to a landline. The charges vary according to location. Skype can be used on any smartphone, tablet or computer. It is free to download and use.

Sweeten Your Cloud Storage with SugarSync

SugarSync brings cloud computing to a new level. This app backs up all of your files so that you can access them remotely. Unlike DropBox and other file-storage or cloud-based sharing sites, you don’t have to upload the files; SugarSync does it for you. And it keeps them in the same configuration you had them on your main device. SugarSync is available for Android and Apple devices.

Noteworthy: Notability

If you or other members of your team take a lot of notes during meetings, Notability may be an appealing tool. This app lets you scribble notes on your smartphone as if you were using a pen, and you can also type notes into Notability. Use it to take notes during meetings, calls, or simply while working on accounts. It’s a great tool for everyone in your accounting office.

Notability may be downloaded for Apple devices from Ginger Labs.

Explore Other Apps

Don’t forget to explore other apps for your accounting practice. If you’re on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, there are convenient apps you can download to your smartphone that enable you to check and respond to messages, post images and content, and update your account. Many clients use social media to communicate with their accountants and it is helpful to be able to respond quickly via this channel if someone communicates with you.

Calculator apps are plentiful, but these newer apps can help accountants be ever more productive than ever before. Notetaking, cloud storage, communications and meeting preparation apps can help you become more efficient and benefit your accounting practice.

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. Check out our complete listing of free webinars on nonprofit technology. We offer software and services that can help you improve and grow your accounting practice. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Creating an Ethical Framework for Data Usage

By | Data, Nonprofit | No Comments

As with many new and evolving technologies, regulation lags behind innovation in the collection, use, and storage of data. With so many businesses today collecting customer data, guidelines that fame how data can be used and shared are a necessity. Without them, companies can make mistakes in how data is stored, used and shared, costly mistakes that can wreak havoc with customer information and goodwill. Developing an ethical framework to guide decisions involving data is a ‘must’ for today’s business

Five Questions to Ask to Build Your Ethical Guidelines

Although many industries have governing bodies that guide them in how they use data, others do not. For those that lack such guidance, developing your own rubric is essential. The Journal of Accountancy suggests six questions, which we’ve distilled down to the five most pertinent ones for businesses. Asking and thoughtfully answering these questions can help you develop your own ethical guidelines for your company’s data policies.

  1. Do you have a privacy policy in place? Clearly defined privacy policies written in plain language can help your users understand which data is collected, how it is used, and how they may opt out of data collection. You can develop your own privacy policies modeled on companies within a similar industry or use privacy policy generators You may wish to have your lawyer or corporate counsel review them, too.
  2. Do you assess and understand the risks of data collection? Not every piece of data is useful or relevant to your company’s mission, vision or goals. Understanding why you want to collect data and the risks of collecting specific data is important.
  3. What safeguards are in place to minimize data risks? With any data collection comes risks of data breaches. What safeguards are you willing to put into place to minimize risks? What security measures do you have now to keep customer data from falling into the wrong hands? Make a list of the methods you are using to keep data safe. You may wish to share this list with an internet security expert to see how well you are using all the tools available to you to minimize risk.
  4. What due diligence do you use if sharing data? If you share data with third party companies, what due diligence methods and systems do you use to safeguard your data? For example, do you send your company’s email list to a vendor to send newsletters out? If so, what checks and safeguards do you have in place with your vendor to ensure the list is kept safe?
  5. Why do you collect data in the first place? Understanding your company’s rationale for collecting and using third-party data is truly the most important point. Companies sometimes fall into the trap of collecting data simply because it might prove useful someday. Even if you aren’t currently using the data that you’ve collected, you still must keep it safe.

Website Security Tips

With the growing awareness of hacking and data theft, it’s important for companies to take added precautions with data sent over their websites. Not only is it important for keeping your customer data secure, it can also prevent infection from spreading through your website and wreaking havoc with site visitors’ computers

  • Keep your computer systems up to date. Download critical updates, patches, and repairs. Software vendors are constantly updating their code to prevent problems. Outdated software is an open invitation for hackers.
  • Add SSL or security certificates to your site.
  • Avoid allowing customers to upload files to your site.
  • Change passwords frequently and use strong passwords with upper and lower case, symbols, and numbers. Don’t use personally identifiable information in your password.

The business world is constantly using and harnessing data. The more data you collect, the more important it is to keep data secure. With these questions, you can build your own guidelines for the ethical storage and use of data within your company.

If you need assistance with data usage or policies Welter Consulting can help. We bridge people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. Your accounting software is an important component of the changeover from the older 1993 regulations to the new rollout. We can help you with the change and more.

Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113.