5 tips for cloud accounting

There has never been a better time to take your accounting processes in to the cloud, according to ICAEW head of enterprises Clive Lewis. Here are some top tips accounting professionals should consider before adopting a cloud-based strategy to ensure they get the most out of the cloud.

Data Security

One of the most common concerns is the perceived lack of data security. Using cloud software is an outsourcing decision, which means trusting a third party completely with your data. Risks around availability and security of user data must be top of the agenda when adopting a cloud software strategy. Businesses can minimise risks by anticipating issues and making sure business continuity plans are in place.

Have your own backup strategy

As part of a risk review, consider how much data can be lost in the event of a roll back occurring. Businesses must identify what the service providers' backup provisions are and how often backups take place. For example, if a backup is only taken every 24 hours, in theory you could lose up to 23 hours and 59 minutes of data.

Accessing the service

Services on the internet are often accessible by a username and password, but for some services or data, security from a username and password isn't enough. With software services that contain sensitive data - bank accounts, email etc. suppliers are encouraged to provide an extra layer of authentication. Depending on the sensitivity of the data in the service you're using, this should be something to look for in order to ensure someone else doesn't get access to your data simply through having your username and password.

Volume of data

Many applications allow users to upload media or synchronise emails with their service. This can be a key benefit and takes little effort or time to do, however the cumulative amount of data being stored can be significant. It is important to consider whether the costs of storing files ever increases. For example, free services may have a limit to the storage and then start charging beyond that figure.

Migrations between platforms

As with all industries, cloud software providers will be very keen to win business and reluctant to lose it. The offer of free migration assistance when moving to their software is to overcome the difficulties of moving data between platforms. This can be avoided by adding terms and conditions into an agreement before signing up to a provider and being aware that providers may offer assistance to setup and on-board customers to their software but offer very little assistance when it comes to migrating away from their platform.

Clive adds: "There are always additional risks to consider when saving data outside of a device you can hold, so these risks require appropriate mitigation plans. The greater the importance of the software or data to the business, the more robust the mitigation plan should be."