Faster Updates: When application updates are released, they are done for all users simultaneously, compared to having internal IT departments update individual servers and workstations when they have the time available and physical access to machines, which can be a problem for consultants and auditors that are in the field sometimes creating conflicts when application versions are different and those users are trying to collaborate.
Reduced Internal Staffing and Equipment Requirements: Since hosting providers manage the network applications, updates and maintenance, the firm’s technical personnel requirements are significantly reduced for those applications that are externally hosted. This also reduces the firm’s requirements for onsite personnel including salary, benefits and office space. Also, because applications are accessed and run through a browser, the workstations within the firms may not have to be as robust as standalone computers nor updated as frequently as applications maintained internally by the firm.
Increased Mobility: Most hosted applications can be accessed not only on the firm’s computer, but through a browser or mobile application on the user’s home PC, tablet or smart phone anywhere that they have a usable Internet connection. This helps firms promote flex time and virtual office capabilities, as well as retain the services of staff that move away, effectively creating a global platform for firm work.
Enterprise Technical Support: Hosted providers develop expertise of managing an application for multiple clients and have more depth of staff than most firms can afford. This nurtures faster response times with better technical support and knowledge available for more personnel, usually with extended hours beyond what internal IT personnel can cover.
Disaster Recovery: Most hosted providers have multiple data centers where the applications and the firm’s data are duplicated for real time redundancy. In the event of any failure, the entire infrastructure can be cutover to the backup system in near real time, which is cost prohibitive for most firms.
Enterprise Security: Most hosted applications have teams of IT personnel that are constantly monitoring network performance and system trends, including a focus on security and enterprise tools. Very few internal network personnel have expertise in optimizing security properly on an ongoing basis and fewer firms have even had an external security audit performed whereas most hosted solutions are in certified data center and have been through such audits.
Level Field: Smaller firms and individuals can access the same applications and resources as the larger firms which were traditionally cost prohibitive for a smaller number of users to buy the license and manage the application.
By comparing the firm’s capabilities in each of these areas against those offered by the hosted solution providers, firms can make a better informed decision as to whether the benefits outweigh the concerns of not having control of those applications.
Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC. and works exclusively with accounting firms to implement today’s leading best practices and technologies. Roman recently updated his “Quantum of Paperless: A Partner’s Guide to Accounting Firm Optimization,” which is available at Amazon.com.