Most of us have seen the commercial for Best Buy with Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live asking these seemingly silly questions. However, many people are still baffled by the rapid movement of computing to “the Cloud”.
So what is the Cloud? In laymen’s terms, programs run in “The Cloud” are actually running on a remote server at a hosted location that you are accessing via the internet. In some cases, users are only hosting their FILES in the Cloud which allows for reduced storage requirements for your local system and also provides continuous backup of all files. Some users run desktop applications, such as QuickBooks, on a hosted server so whenever they are working within the program, it is accessed through a web browser from their local computer. Other users actually run a web based version of a program, such as QuickBooks on line, through their web browser.
In talking with a large number of Accountants, Bookkeepers and their clients, we are continuously asked the question, “How Do I Choose My Cloud Resource?” Interestingly enough, with just a few simple questions it becomes very easy to identify the most appropriate Cloud based resource for a particular user scenario.
Question 1-Do you have a need for simultaneous remote access by multiple users?
If the answer is yes, that immediately qualifies a QuickBooks user as a candidate for either QuickBooks on line or a hosted solution.
Question 2-Would you like to avoid learning a different user interface and keep your software interaction as similar to the desktop experience as possible?
If the answer is yes, they are most likely wanting to move to a hosted solution. It is virtually impossible for a software developer to replicate the desktop experience with a Cloud based program. That is why you hear many people voice their frustration with Cloud based programs such as QuickBooks on line. The varied user experience and reduced set of functions is enough for some people to stay with a desktop product. (whether hosted or not)
Question 3-Are you concerned about protecting your files and making sure there are always secured copies that can be easily accessed and restored in the event of a local system failure?
If the answer is yes, a user does not necessarily need to move to Cloud based software or a hosted software solution but should consider one of the many Cloud based back up resources.
Question 4-How many users will need to access the file(s) and do you have an established budget for your Cloud solution?
Once a client has answered the first three questions and is reasonably sure they want to move to Cloud based software or a hosted solution, the final question is related to pricing. Although some people would argue that Cloud based solutions have inherent underlying cost saving benefits, the reality is a desktop user of QuickBooks will experience a certain level of “sticker shock” in realizing that they are moving away from software they have been paying $200-$400 every three years (average) to a cloud based resource with prices ranging from $30-$100 per month/per user. ($360-$1,200 per year/per user)
For those that answer “yes” to questions 2 and 3 but look faint when you begin to discuss question 4, there are some other alternatives that allow them to continue working on a local copy of the file and use the desktop version of QuickBooks. Those options include desktop sharing, traditional file sharing resources and Qbox.
The bottom line is we can all best meet the needs of our clients/prospects when we are willing to consider their situation first and then apply the most appropriate solution. This simple business philosophy will lead to an increase in new clients and a greater retention of the clients you already have.
Wishing you success in your business.