The Financial Case - Going For Cloud Accounting
Let's assume your finance department is made up of yourself plus 3 others. You have full access to everything you need from your accounting software which is something like Sage 200, Exchequer or one of the Microsoft Dynamics packages. You're used to it, after all you've been using it for... 'how many years?' and anyway what else can an accounts package do?
Providing Access To Others Outside Of Finance
You'd like to give others limited access to do things like raise Purchase Orders or enter Time Sheets but that means buying another full licence and as if that wasn't expensive enough, it will increase your annual maintenance more than the five or so percent that it goes up by anyway - and, remind me, what do you get for that?.
Reliance On Internal IT
You're pretty sure that IT are pretty sure that your software is running on an up-to-date server and they do regular backup checks to make sure that everything can be recovered, not that it ever happens but just in case. Your server will need replacing, upgrading or patching in due course because 'if that crashes, don't say I didn't warn you and it will take a long time to get things up and running again'.
Access From Any Device From Anywhere
You can access your system from 'anywhere' but first 'we need a Terminal Server (more cost) with sufficient memory and microsoft licences (more cost) then we need to configure a VPN in order to give you remote desktop access but you'll have to use Excel on the terminal server because the links won't work with your local Excel copy.
Leaving aside the IT costs (licences, hardware and, of course, time) the typical maintenance agreement for a 4 user accounting system along with any additional training and consultancy costs around £5k per annum. In the Cloud, depending on the chosen solutionusing, a true cloud based system could cost less than half that per annum. Over say 7 years that's a saving of £17.5k and that's not including the cost of Servers, Microsoft licencing, IT time, headaches, downtime etc. You do get more users, more functionality, access from anywhere, secure, encrypted backups, dashboard KPIs, options to increase or decrease users whenever you want and lots more. Of course, there is the initial cost of moving your data onto the cloud solution and making sure users are trained and become familiar with it.
Are There Downsides?
Yes, the main one being that you will have a heavy reliance on a good internet connection.