by Christopher Stark, President & CEO, Cetrom
Cybersecurity threats continue to pose a serious risk to accounting firms. Accounting firms need to shift their risks to proactively protect their firms' and clients’ data. With the rise of cyber risks, now is the perfect time for accounting firms to explore the cost-benefit analysis of partnering with cloud solutions compared to in-house or local IT providers.
The Reality of Local IT Provider Solutions for CPA Firms
Using local IT provider solutions has drawbacks for CPA firms. This is of particular concern for firms striving to be flexible, innovative and proactive with advanced cybersecurity measures.
Inexperience with accounting applications. Local IT solutions often do not have experience with unique accounting applications and software designed for the CPA industry. Often, local providers deliver an out-of-the-box IT solution, which does not meet the specific needs of an accounting firm.
Limited support. Local IT solution providers only a designated amount of time and level of availability to support each team.
Ineffective disaster recovery plan. Local IT solutions frequently do not have a well-developed disaster recovery plan. Rather, they tend to leave the data protection strategy to the client.
Lack of research investment. Investment in top-tier solutions on the market requires time and money. Local IT solutions are often not able to invest the resources required to give CPA firms the best daily experience. This can lead to lost productivity and increased downtime.
Less availability of security features. Cybersecurity threats remain a paramount concern to CPA firms. The level of cyber risks which confronts CPA firms requires a designated cybersecurity team with the expertise to prevent, detect, isolate, and remediate cyber threats. A local IT provider solution can be limited on their investments in advanced threat protection systems proven to reduce risk and mitigate threats.
As technology advances, local, and outsourced IT solutions have some limitations.
The Reality of In-house IT Solutions for Accounting Firms
In-house IT personnel offer foundational services within CPA firms. Yet, with the ongoing risk of devastating cybersecurity crimes and rapidly evolving technologies, in-house IT solutions face economic challenges and time constraints as noted below.
Limited security solutions. The long-term cost investment to install and deploy an on-premises security infrastructure including hardware, software licensing fees, data back-up, etc., is significant compared to the cost of a cloud solution provider.
Ongoing security maintenance is costly. Protecting a CPA firm from ongoing cyberthreats requires constant focus and ongoing financial investments. On-premises security systems require a high level of security expertise, continuous monitoring/maintenance of hardware, servers, and the network to manage risks. As noted in The Daily CPA, “the expenses associated with setting up a local IT infrastructure, in-house servers and equipment can cost a fortune to accounting firms.”
Ongoing change in the IT world. IT is complicated and constantly changing, even for the experts. As CPA Practice Advisor discusses, even large multinational accounting firms are struggling to keep pace with the evolving cybersecurity risks. They have to constantly adapt to new technologies, software, data privacy regulations, cybercrime threats, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more. An internal IT department can struggle without outside, expert IT advisors to supplement their capabilities.
Rising investment in technology. CPA firms are recognizing the crucial role technologies have in evolving their businesses to satisfy clients and employees, while increasing productivity and mitigating risks in lost revenues.
The role of in-house IT solutions is vital to the continued success of CPA firms. However, a technologically advanced cloud solution enhances traditional in-house IT solutions.
The Value of a Cloud Hosting Solution
With the continual rise and complexity of cybersecurity threats targeted toward CPA firms, this is an excellent time for C-suite executives and IT professionals to work with a cloud solutions provider.
Experienced in accounting applications. Work with an IT hosting provider who has experience hosting and maintaining your core unique accounting applications. Talk to their clients!
Available continuously. Verify their 24x7x365 IT support. They must be poised to handle late-night needs during the grueling tax season. What is their up-time guarantee? History of downtime, etc.?
Allows flexibility. Cloud solutions satisfy the need for remote flexibility and scalability as staffing demands change without having to purchase additional infrastructure to meet their firm’s unique needs. Verify flexibility from adding/removing users, billing, M&A, office moves, and more.
State-of-the-art security. Cloud hosting providers have the capacity and the data security need to invest in the best-of-breed security technologies on the market. Their customers benefit from frequently scheduled security updates, Advanced Threat Protection technology, backup protection built into their disaster recovery plan.
Committed service. At the end of the day, you should have peace of mind knowing your IT hosting provider is alleviating some of the IT burden off your shoulders, greatly reducing your security risks, providing tools, tips, recommendations, and best practices to help optimize your IT and most importantly serving as a trusted IT advisor for your team.
Christopher Stark is the President & CEO of Cetrom, rated Top Cloud Hosting Provider for CPA Firms since 2015. Christopher brings 25+ years of experience in IT with a focus and passion on data security. Learn more: https://www.cetrom.net/