Cloud computing permeates our personal and professional lives, with applications like Salesforce.com for client relationship management, iTunes for entertainment, Google for document management and ADP for payroll. Whether recognized or not, many of the daily tasks business owners do each and every day involve interaction with cloud technology. It is not relegated to Internet start-ups. Cloud-based technologies can improve efficiency, tracking, and streamline business processes. As you consider preparing and staging your company for a sale or transition, you might consider moving your internal financial operations to the Cloud.
Cloud computing is now mainstream for business, with many using Software as a Service or cloud-based solutions in day-to-day operations. In a June 11, 2014, New York Times article, “The Era of Cloud Computing,” industry analysts predicted, over the next six years, almost 90 percent of new spending on internet and communications technologies, a $5 trillion global business, will be on cloud-based technology.
Cloud-based solutions are being used by companies of all sizes, across all of their different functional areas. This is because cloud-based solutions have removed much of the cost and inconvenience that was formerly associated with many business interactions. The leanest, most agile, most cost-efficient businesses are those that utilize the global reach and immediacy of the Cloud to access resources on demand. Cloud computing allows companies to function better and faster, and to scale their business as needed.
Cloud applications are designed to integrate with any system, on-premise or cloud, allowing your important data (sales pipeline, payroll, financials, ERP, etc.) to flow across your business infrastructure. This flow drives alignment because all the players on your team are working off the same data at the same time. As a result, your team can respond faster and with more agility to ever-changing business conditions.
For the finance team (often the under-appreciated area of technology budgets), Cloud-based applications can transform the department, making it more efficient, providing greater depth of analysis and providing greater insight to decision makers, while allowing the CFO team to focus on its core responsibilities of control and accuracy in reporting. This includes everything from general ledger (GL) to multi-currency transactions, equity administration, and budgeting and forecasting. Cloud solutions have the flexibility to be configured to work the way you do, and the capability to integrate with nearly any software package. Dwindling technology budgets mean businesses, and prospective purchasers, may look to the Cloud for agile IT solutions without prohibitive upfront costs.
Cloud Systems Implementation: In evaluating cloud-based products, ensure that there is a certified team of implementation specialists. It would be especially helpful to find professionals that began their careers in your shoes. Former CFOs, controllers and FP&A managers that share industry-best practices and process re-engineering expertise is the perfect marriage of skills and experience that you will should look for in connection with sourcing an implementation team.
Cloud Systems Integration: The Cloud has changed who can purchase technology, since line-of-business leaders now have access to new applications in a matter of minutes. The result: silos of cloud applications. Finding a company that can help integrate a financial cloud-based operating system can help increase ROI for your organization by combining these cloud islands into an integrated, responsive and agile technology nerve center for your business.
In conclusion, cloud solutions allow CFOs and other line leaders to be conductors of technology decisions, and move quickly and cost-effectively to prioritize the needs of their changing businesses. Modern cloud architecture enables business leaders to implement integrated, best-of-breed solutions in a way not previously possible. To take advantage of your new role as “conductor” of your organization’s cloud environment, you need an experienced partner to help you navigate the opportunities and challenges. Evaluating your whether your internal financial processes are controlled and organized will help you determine whether to take your company to the cloud prior to marketing your company for sale.
Jeff Epstein, Operating Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, suggests asking these questions related to financial systems strategy:
Sam Kashy is a leader in the Armanino Cloud Solutions Practice that provides its clients with strategic guidance and practical expertise in selecting and implementing best in breed cloud based technologies for entrepreneurial thru enterprise scale finance organizations. Sam’s industry expertise in tech, data services, CPG and consulting ranges from Fortune 50 to entrepreneurial start-up…
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