4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business

With all the talk of cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service models, businesses are increasingly questioning their continued use of on-premises and “traditional” software implementations. Having heard that cloud applications are cheaper and better than locally installed solutions, some small business owners and IT managers are actively seeking alternatives to their current software selections. In too many cases, however, these business owners or IT managers aren’t looking at the longer term impacts of their decisions, and may be adopting cloud software solutions simply because it seems to be the way things are going these days.

via 4 Rules of Thumb for Considering Cloud Applications in Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Small #NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the #Cloud | #Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Small NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the Cloud

There are many benefits included in the “value proposition” for cloud computing models, but there are some hidden gems in terms of how these outsourced IT models can specifically and directly address one of the biggest problems facing many smaller nonprofit organizations: they have to use old, outdated, and often just pretty crummy equipment. But now it’s OK, because even crummy old PCs can work just fine when the applications are hosted in the cloud.

Small nonprofit organizations often rely exclusively on donations to keep the business running.  Donations don’t always come in the form of dollars; sometimes donations include used computer equipment.  For many nonprofits, using donated equipment is the only option they have due to various budgeting constraints, and nonprofits need computers just as badly as any other business. Not only do these underfunded businesses have to try to operate with what most users would consider to be sub-par equipment, they frequently operate their systems and networks without the aid of skilled or experienced technicians.  For a small nonprofit organization, keeping up with business is tough when the computers and software aren’t able to fully meet the need.

To complicate things even more, many people working in smaller nonprofit organizations are mobile workers – functioning either as part-time participants or users who simply need to work from a variety of possible locations.  And they almost always have to use their own mobile devices.  Supporting a remote or mobile workforce is particularly challenging when even the most basic of computing requirements are barely met, so addressing the variables of everyone having their own mobile devices and remote computers is frightful at best.

via Small #NonProfits, Crummy Computers and the #Cloud | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

The Business #Cloud: Hype versus Reality | #CooperMann Consulting Group

The Business Cloud: Hype versus Reality

There is no doubt that cloud and mobile computing models are driving technology adoption as well as changing the landscape of how consumers and businesses purchase and use IT.  Accompanying any great shift – which in this case is fueled not simply by cloud technologies but by social computing – are the purveyors of propaganda and hype.  Cloud computing and social media won’t make you popular, is not always safe or free, and it doesn’t whiten your teeth. What it can do is help businesses increase agility, collect and use information better and reduce the cost of change. There are many benefits to be achieved with cloud computing models, yet many providers continue to play on the hype rather taking the more difficult road of communicating how their solution actually solves real business problems.

via The Business Cloud: Hype versus Reality | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a #Reseller | #CooperMann Consulting Group

Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a Reseller

There is quite a bit of chatter on the web and among IT resellers about how opportunities to serve business customers are diminishing, yet business adoption of cloud computing, managed services, and mobile technologies is growing tremendously.  It seems that use of technology is increasing, but the opportunity for “traditional” IT resellers and channel partners to make money by selling IT-related products and services is diminishing.  This is not new, and is simply a finer form of the problem that has been revealing itself for years.  In order to provide value, suppliers must provide businesses with solutions to business problems rather than just trying to sell them products and services with a hefty profit margin.

Whether it is a physical item like a computer or an intangible item like consulting services, businesses will buy if they see value in it.  In the eyes of the consumer, the value is likely tied to far more than the item at hand; the value tracks to some expectation of business benefit to be achieved now and in the future.  Businesses will pay for solutions to problems they experience more readily than they will pay for shiny things or big ideas, and it is this truth that many “value added” resellers tend to forget even though it is part of their business description.

via Turning a Product or Service into a Solution: the Value Add of a Reseller | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Migrating #Business #Data to the #Cloud #CooperMann Consulting Group

Migrating Business Data to the Cloud

When businesses elect to have their desktop applications hosted in the cloud with a hosting service provider, they are also electing to have their data hosted with the provider.  This point is not always obvious to non-technical users and those unfamiliar with the hosted application concept.  Many business owners have adopted an online or hosted application solution and then realized after-the-fact that their data was no longer present on their computer.  At least, no current data was present, and it was quite a surprise the day they wanted some information but could not get it because they were not connected to the Internet at the time.  An important thing to remember, and the essential factor in measuring risk associated with use of cloud services and hosted solutions, is that adopting online applications in almost any form means that the data associated with (and possibly even data remotely associated with) the application will also migrate to the cloud.

via Migrating Business Data to the Cloud | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Client #Experience and Perceived #Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for #Accountants Working with #SmallBusiness #CooperMann Consulting Group

Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business

Every day it seems there is another professional accounting or bookkeeping firm asking questions about now to get new clients for their new “online accounting” business.  Most of these professionals are likely missing the point that their current clients are probably already looking at online accounting solutions and services. Just like in the days when QuickBooks was beginning to take the lead in the market; today’s increasingly popular online accounting solutions are gaining popularity with the direct users, and are bringing those solutions to the professional community (not the other way around).  Professionals who wish to build their businesses on what the market demands would do well to recognize that the push to the cloud coming from their clients is a reflection of past activities, and firms riding the wave are much more likely to see success than those fighting it.

via Client Experience and Perceived Value: It’s Looking Cloudy for Accountants Working with Small Business | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Why Accounting in the Cloud? | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Why Accounting in the Cloud?

Business owners and managers need to keep close control of their financial data.  They need to know where they stand at all times, and having information available to make business decisions is essential.  When the financial information is in the office but the owner isn’t, how can wise decisions be made without access to supporting data?  They can’t, and that’s a problem.  The solution is simple: work in the cloud.

A cloud computing model properly applied to accounting and bookkeeping systems helps businesses of any size keep their financial data and accounting applications in a safe a secure environment, yet accessible to those who need it.  By locating the business applications and data in a protected central location, access to programs and data sets can be provided to authorized users regardless of location or computing platform.  For a small business owner, this means that working from home or on vacation can be as productive as working in the office.  In larger businesses, cloud-based accounting means the accounting department, CFO and financial advisers might all access the same financial records and applications no matter where they work from.

via Why Accounting in the Cloud? | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

Business Data Storage in the Cloud: QuickBooks and Beyond

The term “cloud” has been applied to all sorts of online or Internet-based application models, and there are a great many approaches to developing cloud-based services and solutions. What this translates to is a volume of options and possibilities for information storage, management, and access in the cloud.

Understanding where information is stored, how it may be accessed, and how it might be transmitted to others becomes essential knowledge that business owners should have when they engage with any information technology (IT) solution or service. Yet the plethora of “simple, affordable, and instantly gratifying” services currently available on the web all but ensure that businesses will engage with one or more solutions that provide them with little or no information (much less control) over the placement and management of their data.

It Used To Be So Easy

via Business Data Storage in the Cloud – QuickBooks and Beyond : QuickBooks and Beyond.

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting

For some accounting professionals, the problem is finding a way to provide services that are valuable to the client, and doing it in a way that makes it profitable for the provider.  Outsourced and online accounting models are the answer, employing innovative tools in the practice and with clients: tools and resources necessary to get more informed and run the business better.

With online accounting solutions the firm is able to increase profitability with the range of services offered, often adding clients and work without hiring more personnel.  Online solutions allow professionals and their clients to work from anywhere at any time, providing both with the freedom to focus on core business capabilities (and lifestyle).

via Efficiency and Value with Cloud Accounting | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.

The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments | Cooper Mann Consulting Group

The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments

There has always been somewhat of a struggle between the IT department and “management”, much of the difficulty existing with the need to demonstrate clear returns on investments for IT purchases.  Unfortunately, expenditures in information technology are often the result of short-term views of long-standing problems, applying “solutions” that do not fully address the requirement or which do not deliver the productivity or performance gains expected, particularly in a dynamic and rapidly changing business environment. The assumption is that a wise investment in information technology will result with improved profitability and performance.  Demonstrating this on paper is not always easily accomplished.

There is a great deal of research on the subject of accounting for returns on IT investments.  Some of this research describes “The Productivity Paradox”, referring to early studies on the “relationship between information technology and productivity, and finding an absence of a positive relationship between spending on IT and productivity or profitability”. [1]  Previous to the emergence of cloud computing and widely available remote and mobile technologies (and now possibly even more with the prevalence of available options), businesses invest heavily in IT infrastructure and applications which deliver nominal benefit to the business when measured against the cost of acquisition and implementation.  Heavy IT investments are made with little or no measurable benefit to profitability, even if operational performance improvements are created.  In many cases, the difficulty in “proving” benefit from information technology investments rests with the lack of information relating to impacts in non-operational areas, such as with investors, auditors or analysts.

via The Productivity Paradox: Accounting for Returns on IT Investments | Cooper Mann Consulting Group.