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Cloud CRM: Is your Accounting Firm on Board?

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February 27, 2012

Cloud CRM: Is your Accounting Firm on Board?

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Accounting firms are taking on cloud computing solutions for the same reasons other industries are gravitating toward it – it's saving them money. Supported applications, including cloud CRM, don't require extra man hours from IT staff, nor do they need extensive and expensive deployment to become useable. 

According to this Cloud Tweaks report, any upgrades or maintenance goes on the cloud, leaving accounting firms to do what they do best and not have to fuss with software licensing agreements and other system administration issues.

Software that lives in the cloud can be accessed at anytime from anywhere. With this type of accessibility, including access to valuable cloud CRM, a business can start seeing growth that wasn't achievable in the past.

Cloud applications are often built to ensure availability, which is sometimes upwards of 99.5 percent. Data security requirements, especially those used by companies tied to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI (News - Alert) DSS), are extremely costly to live by, which necessitates companies to move to cloud-based applications because these standards are easily achieved at a much reduced cost.

Another consideration for moving applications to the cloud is that on-site backup and disaster recovery efforts pale in comparison to those offered in the cloud. CRM applications, which can be quite labor-intensive to install in on-site versions take far less time in the cloud, but cloud-based applications are also more flexible and adjust more readily to changes in a company's makeup.

Many cloud CRM applications integrate with other applications to offer more comprehensive coverage. Many of these cloud CRM applications charge an annual or monthly rate, which in some cases (especially in small and medium-sized business) can go as low as $5 per month. The more feature-rich solutions that are used by bigger corporations, however, have a much bigger price tag (News - Alert).Accounting firms using cloud CRM and other cloud-based applications don't have to maintain servers or pay for the electricity that keeps the server running, which affects the financial bottom line.It's not all a bed of roses, unfortunately. 

There are some drawbacks to going to the cloud applications, including cloud CRM. While most applications offer a more flexible approach, some applications have restrictions and are limited to the infrastructure offered by the cloud company. Some companies are concerned about the location of sensitive information, such as client files and financial or medical data that by government regulation cannot be compromised. In the case of an accounting firm, they are subject to audits that assure efficiency of processes and security of data. 

The large cloud companies have a smooth track record and have not been compromised. Companies considering taking their processes to the cloud should study their options closely and select only the most secure and trusted cloud companies for their cloud-based applications, including cloud CRM.

Edited by Juliana Kenny
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