Upcoming Informed Funding / Cloud and Apps Workshop - Tuesday 27th March
EFM will be providing Business App and Cloud expertise at Informed Funding's upcoming Workshop "Ahead in the Cloud: How a strategic view on the use of Business Apps and Cloud Services can help your business outperform the competition" on Tuesday 27th March at 1:30pm and again at 4:00pm at The Leather Market near London Bridge.
Click here for more information or to register.
Do you know your Xero from your Zoho and your Zapier? - Guest blog by EFM
In 2018, the landscape of business apps and cloud-based services looks pretty exciting.
These solutions can help SMEs in respect of almost all aspects of their business.
Even when we focus on those apps which relate directly to finance and accounting, there are a lot of options on the market.
A recent Gartner report captures it well:
“After years of lagging behind other domains in cloud adoption, cloud is hot in all areas of financial applications. Business leaders need to understand how to capitalize on the opportunities of transitioning finance systems and processes to the cloud without being caught out by the challenges.”
Many cloud solutions are well-suited to SMEs and growing businesses, as they require very little infrastructure and much reduced capital investment, which is highly beneficial when cash is tight.
So, why cloud-based financial applications taking off so well?
Maturity – After several years of development, the marketplace now reflects increasing maturity of cloud-based core financial management applications. In fact, most of the vendors in this market are now focusing their efforts on cloud vs. on-premises applications.
Replacement Cycle – Another factor is the replacement cycle. Cloud-based systems mean significantly reduced costs for upgrades or replacement.
Many organizations are now adopting a cloud-first strategy for new applications, favouring them over on-premises solutions.
Confidence – Increasingly IT and Finance leaders are less concerned about the potential security risks of cloud-based applications. The increasing maturity of cloud solutions and proven track record on security, together with the reduced requirements for backups, and recovery systems, supports increasing confidence in the cloud option.
Transformation – Maybe most importantly, many business leaders see the opportunity to replace legacy applications with new, cloud-based solutions that can truly enable, improve and transform critical finance processes. Businesses are replacing spreadsheets and manual processes that are being used for budgeting, planning, and reporting processes.
What Are the Benefits?
Gartner cites a number of potential benefits, these include:
Enabling Growth – the ability to start small and expand over time, grow big
Cost Savings – on subscriptions vs. license and maintenance, as well as reduced infrastructure and upgrade costs.
Faster Adoption of New Functionality – regular feature releases with automatic updates and patches.
Improved Usability – including reporting, analytics and remote access and mobile support.
Opportunities for Process Improvement and Agility – e.g. faster reporting and shorter planning cycles.
Supporting Business Transformation – upgrading finance systems and processes.
The best cloud-based solution for your business
- Most are easily scalable to cope with business growth.
- Some solutions are stand-alone specialised applications.
- Some integrate well with compatible software.
- Other platforms offer a comprehensive suite of tools.
So, selecting the right solutions for your business can be challenging.
While each business has its own priorities and unique challenges, there are a number of concerns which all organisations should consider:
Data Challenges – including legal compliance:
- Who owns data
- Who uses data
- Where is it all located
- What is the cost
- How can I turn the cloud into an opportunity whilst keeping in control and compliant
Connectivity: (3rd party)
- Apps talking to each other
- Control of workflow
- Access rights
- Consider core minimum set of tools you need for your business requirements,
e.g. Bookkeeper , payroll, reporting, e-commerce, invoice finance etc.
Risks and Pitfalls
- Changing systems – migrating data .
- Paying for apps/users but not getting value (e.g. do we use all the licences we pay for?”)
- Legal requirements to hold and manage data.
- Maintaining payments – changing credit cards etc.
EFM is a nationwide team of Finance Directors and Business Advisors. They provide ‘pay as you go’ financial management services to businesses that want the benefits of a Finance Director – but without paying an FD’s full-time salary.
They provide practical commercial support to hundreds of growing businesses across the UK and Ireland – and you get as much or as little input as you require.