As we know, cloud computing has transformed the accountancy profession in recent years. With ever increasing coverage and speed of internet access, the days of hosting software on individual machines appear to be numbered. It is not without its challenges however, and I outline below some considerations for people deciding on how best to proceed.
As with any Accountancy package, password control and permissions are of utmost importance. Cloud packages require effective maintenance like any other software, but there is an added risk in exchange for having access from potentially anywhere in the world. Regardless of the hardware and data being held by a third party, it is important to actively monitor user access and maintain user permission levels to avoid any dilution of control over client data. Two-factor authentication is recommended so as to minimise the risk of unwanted access should people not protect their username/password details. Training is also important in this regard, particularly for any third-party user who may not fully appreciate the risks.
The location of data is also of high significance to clients, given that different jurisdictions have different data and privacy laws. Care must be taken to ascertain where 'cloud' data is stored and clients should be made aware of potential pitfalls.
When considering cloud packages, it is also important to establish who legally owns the data being processed. Some providers request ownership so that they can use information for marketing opportunities. This decision is critical, particularly regarding GDPR implications.
Even though data may no longer be retained at your office, you are still ultimately responsible for it. Firms looking to move to the cloud must look carefully at the service providers to ensure that their policies, processes and finances are secure.
One of the most appealing things about cloud computing is the ease of access through an internet browser. Ultimately however, when data is stored in the cloud it is only accessible when you have an internet connection - without which the advantages of cloud storage can quickly become a hindrance!
As technology continues to evolve it is safe to say cloud computing will be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future. With the investment of time and diligence at the outset, businesses can find a solution that works for all.
If you would like to learn more about cloud computing, please contact Jamie McKenna at email@example.com.
Peregrine Corporate Services Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.