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Every once in a while, an event occurs that changes the course of business history. 2020 happens to be boasting a time when not only is business history changing, but world history is changing as well — and with it, of course, the history of business. No one could have expected or prepared for such a change; however survival in business requires adapting to the circumstances of the world. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has given plenty of cause to adapt as well as given rise to the fear of not adapting. Fortunately many businesses have found a quick and effective way to acclimate themselves to these changing times: by moving their system of operations to the cloud.

The cloud refers to the applications and data accessed through the Internet. With the cloud, you no longer have to worry about installing software or data on your own workstation; likewise a company does not have to worry about installing software or storing data on its own servers. To keep it simple, here is a breakdown of the major benefits of the cloud:

  1. Backups are done in the cloud, not by the end-user company
  2. Disaster recovery protocol is almost eliminated
  3. Electricity costs are reduced
  4. IT departments can focus on the big picture rather than day to day obstacles
  5. Storage space for servers becomes unnecessary
  6. Upgrading software to new versions goes away since the developer handles upgrades automatically.
  7. Employees can work anywhere, any time, and it is easier to deploy remote employees

With the cloud, all you truly need to conduct business is a computer, an Internet browser, and a Wi-Fi signal. Using the cloud for applications and data allows for a truly remote workforce, which is more important than ever given the advent of COVID-19 and the rise of working from home. In the past, companies had a server for each application that the business used, leading to the possibility of ten servers for a small company and hundreds of servers for a large company. Businesses had to worry about virus protection, backups, offsite backups, and disaster recovery in order to keep the data stored on all these servers safe. Now as more and more companies deploy software as a service (SAAS), IT departments can focus on strategic protocol rather than day-to-day break-fixes.

Transferring data to the cloud can completely transform an organization from the ground up. Warehouse management, business intelligence for the CFO, and accounting payments can be based within the cloud. The cloud is so helpful to so many aspects of an organization largely because there is no more software to install or data to back up. When moving forward with transferring data to the cloud, there are many cloud applications to choose from and the application chosen typically still needs to be configured based on the individual company’s needs. Typically a company might have an accounting package, a warehouse application, and a customer relationship management application (to name a few). Each ERP/accounting cloud-based software can have many add-ons to the core system. For example, accounting may have an accounts payable add-on that allows AP functions, such as invoices and payments, to be managed in the cloud. Sage Intacct is an example of a powerful cloud-based accounting package, which can be used for financials, sales orders, purchase orders, and inventory management.

Here’s another example: when a company needs to email their invoices to clients, there are typically two options — convert the invoice to a PDF and compose and then send the email, or use a program within the application to send it. With cloud-based accounting, the load of sending those emails is not put on the server, but instead on the Sage Intacct architecture with no slowdowns to the user. Picture a company that received 100 accounts payable bills per day via email. With cloud-based accounting, that email is automatically reviewed by the system and the PDF invoice is brought into the cloud, coded, and then goes into an acceptance loop, where once it is accepted, the GL data is seamlessly sent back to the accounting system.

The cloud has always been a helpful tool for managing a company, so why is it gaining such popularity now? In short, the pandemic. The pandemic not only shut down the United States, but the entire world. Millions of displaced office and warehouse workers did not know what to do, nor did their direct managers. Working at home, a leisure formerly allowed to few, became a critical adjustment for the survival of a business — and yet many businesses struggled to get laptops, VPNs, and security rights to allow companies to move out of the office. With cloud-based software, any device with an Internet connection is all that is needed in order to conduct business as usual. It is unlikely that the world will ever go back to the way things were as organizations realize the efficiency and effectiveness of working from home. Many companies are still switching to cloud-based accounting as people notice that the role of the office has been significantly changed.

If you access your ERP through a web browser, then the ERP is probably cloud-based. However, due to the fact that there are some browser-based applications not installed to a true cloud (which is a multi-tenant environment in which the software is installed in one place but the developer only needs to maintain one large application), the best way to make sure the cloud is giving you exactly what you need is by contacting your IT department. ACI Consulting is also a great resource to learn about the benefits of cloud-computing for your specific business, especially if your company could benefit from Sage Intacct. ACI Consulting can guide you on your transitional journey to the cloud so that your business does not fall victim to this senseless pandemic and in fact will emerge triumphant and thriving on the other side.