Hosting your firm’s desktop applications not only delivers all the benefits of cloud computing, but it can also contribute to the growth of your firm. The positives of cloud-computing services are clear: anytime, anywhere access to critical files; data storage with bank-level security; and automatic updates for key apps.
But there’s more to hosting applications in the cloud than just the initial benefits. In the cloud, your firm can drive revenue by acquiring and retaining clients. And you can also attract and maintain employees.
For some of your clients, paying your firm an hourly fee could be a deal-breaker. It’s hard for the client, and sometimes for you, to know how long your work will take. Clients might not have a good idea of how much a service billed hourly might cost.
When you leverage cloud computing, including moving QuickBooks® Desktop to a hosted model, you enable your firm to charge a retainer for a suite of services and move away from the antiquated single-service, hourly billing model. By no longer having to spend time maintaining an on-premises server, you free up time and resources to develop and provide strategic services.
You can offer financial planning services, for example, or succession planning. Or you can offer ongoing advice on how your clients can improve cash flow or start new product lines. With resources freed by moving to the cloud, you can switch from performing hourly tasks to offering value-based advisory services. Another benefit of the cloud is the enhanced security of applications.
Aimee Engle, founder and owner of AE Possibilities, which provides small-business bookkeeping and QuickBooks® consulting services, focuses on building trust in order to move beyond simply performing hourly tasks.
She often fields calls and pitches ideas on how prospective clients can use cloud-based applications tied into QuickBooks® Desktop to solve larger problems for their businesses. Once she achieves an increased level of trust, her prospective clients realize the value she adds as a business adviser. Cloud-based services are at the heart of her strategy.
Small-businesses clients have come to expect real-time service, which can be difficult to offer with traditional accounting technology. Clients want to access their information from your firm when they need it, not when you’re ready to give it to them.
Another benefit of the cloud is that clients can access data at any time with strong data security. Offering constant visibility helps you strengthen relationships with clients and ultimately leads to client retention for your firm.
Engle notes that clients she works with in the cloud are fully engaged, and as a result, are more likely to continue to do business with her.
When you run applications in a hosted cloud infrastructure, you no longer have to install or maintain software on your local computers or run an application server in your office. Each of your devices becomes a terminal for access.
That means no more time spent patching, upgrading, updating and troubleshooting. The cost of physical IT infrastructure—including servers, storage space and increased bandwidth—is high. And using employee resources to maintain your IT setup drives your costs even higher.
Just as the cloud enables you to develop new services for clients, it also frees up employees to do more client prospecting and spend more time serving (and selling to) existing clients.
Engle has seen this firsthand. “Worry-free IT and added mobility, combined with less stress, has led to fewer expenses and higher profits for my business since signing up with Right Networks,” she said.
Finding and retaining great employees is a challenge for many accounting firms. However, firms that run applications in the cloud have a major advantage. Another benefit of the cloud is that their data is securely available to anybody anywhere and at any time. This also means they can hire employees or contractors who aren’t in the firm’s geographical area.
That allows firm leaders to look nationwide for qualified candidates. Once employees come to the firm, they’re more likely to stay because the business is running applications in the cloud. With tasks like application security and updates outsourced, employees have more time to handle the work they want to perform. (Read this blog to learn why remote work benefits your firm).
Employee experience is a major factor in staff retention. The ease of working in the cloud makes your firm more attractive to employees than companies that are still trying to manage critical applications themselves. And retaining employees is, of course, critical for the growth of your firm.
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