8 Signs You Might Need the Cloud

8 Signs You Might Need the Cloud

If you haven’t already, it is time to consider switching over to the cloud. Gartner recently released a report on cloud computing where they predicted that by 2020, a corporate “no-cloud” policy will be as rare as a “no-internet” policy is today. In order to stay competitive you need to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Not convinced you need to make the switch? Take a look at the following signs that indicate you might need the cloud.

1. You want to upgrade your software

Businesses with on-premise software need to maintain it with upgrades, troubleshooting and updates. This becomes rather expensive and time-consuming since you need to train employees, test systems and also implement the upgrades. Switching over to the cloud can reduce your costs, save you time and improve your efficiency. Cloud software is upgraded by the provider and without additional costs for you.

2. You want fast deployment

On-premise ERP systems are notorious for long implementation times. For larger systems and corporations it can take months to fully deploy the system. A cloud ERP system is quite the opposite. Since the ERP system is delivered via the Internet, deployment is almost instant.

3. You want to integrate your systems

Do you work with multiple software systems and wish they could all be integrated? Your wish can come true! Cloud software systems are inherently open and allows users to connect to other systems to allow for collaboration. For example, Sage Intacct, an ERP cloud-based software, allows integration with other providers such as Adaptive Insights, Bill.com and Avalara.

4. You want to increase employee collaboration

If you have multiple employees working with the same data, you might be in trouble. Having multiple versions of data can not only be time-consuming to fix, but you can also end up with a major financial loss. Off-premise software systems allows employees to access the data they are working with simultaneously and in real-time. Thus, you eliminate the possibility of having multiple versions spreadsheets.

5. You want to scale

This might be one of the first things you hear about the cloud. On-premise software can get really expensive if you’re growing at a fast pace, making it difficult to scale your business. On the other hand, with the cloud, you can request more functions, space or users and get them instantly.

6. You don’t want to spend your budget on IT, but rather your core products

It doesn’t make sense to manage your own on-premise servers and develop your own portals if IT is not your core competency. Nonprofit organization, for example, will benefit from investing their budget on their mission and cause rather than an IT department. Cloud software allows businesses without IT knowledge to operate without owning their own IT equipment. Rather, all you need is access to Internet and a device.

7. You have a mobile workforce or multiple offices

As Internet access increases worldwide and remote work continues to be a trend in the workplace, having remote access is becoming more important. Cloud software makes this a reality as you can access your data anytime, anywhere and from any device with Internet connection.


 

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4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

4 Top Reasons Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

What is SaaS?

As discussed last week in our Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a method where businesses purchase software via a Web-based service. The main difference with this method, from purchasing software the traditional way, is that you rent services and you don’t have to worry about set-up costs or maintenance. Basically, you pay-for-use or via a subscription fee and only use the services you need.

Are Nonprofits Using the Cloud?

Nonprofits strive to invest in their core missions, while at the same time reducing operational cost. For many of these organizations it is difficult to maximize efficiency without breaking the budget. Cloud services are a cost-effective alternative for nonprofits, as they allow organizations to gain access to software without the additional costs of maintaining it on your own. SaaS deployment among organizations is on the rise. According to Cisco Global Cloud Index, it is estimated to grow by 59% in 2018.

Why Nonprofits Should Consider SaaS

SaaS offers advantages for nonprofits of all sizes. While we could make this a lengthy post and touch on all of them we have simply listed the top 4 benefits below and the reason why they solve problems for nonprofits.

1. Upfront investment is minimal

There is no initial cost for setting up or other upfront fees. You would just pay as you go and you can cancel at any point. This is a big benefit to smaller nonprofits especially, who may not have the upfront cash to invest in an IT solution even though it is critical for business. Also, investing in SaaS allows your nonprofit to expense the cost as an operational expenditure rather than capital (which most CFOs prefer).

2. Cost saving

SaaS can be a real money-saver. At first glance, SaaS may look expensive; however, when you take into account the money that is needed to purchase your own software and paying people to manage it, it is quite the opposite. In the long run, SaaS offers a more affordable way to gain access to up-to-date technology without breaking your budget.

3. Scalability

SaaS is extremely flexible as it allows your organization to easily add functionality and applications. This is especially important for nonprofits who are quickly growing, have changing needs and want to have a quick response time.

3. Remote Access

SaaS is delivered via web-based applications, which means that you can access the software from anywhere, any device, and anytime (granted that you have access to the Internet). Remote access is a great benefit for nonprofits who have employees that spend time out in the field but still need access to IT software.

4. No IT headaches

Nonprofits that invest in SaaS can say goodbye to IT troubles such as maintenance, backup, updates and security. Instead, the SaaS provider is in charge of doing all of this and for no extra charge.


Does your nonprofit organization consider making the switch to SaaS? Do you see any hurdles with taking the leap? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

A Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Computing

When people refer to “the cloud” nowadays it’s usually not the mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere they are talking about, but the cloud as if refers to cloud computing. Gartner reported earlier this year that the worldwide public cloud services market is expected to grow 18% in 2017 and ultimately total $246.8 billion. Additionally, a survey conducted by Clutch showed that nearly 70% of U.S. businesses said they were planning on increasing their spending on cloud computing in 2017. Needless to say, “the cloud” is here to stay.

But What is “the Cloud”?

It may not be news to you that more and more companies are switching over to “the cloud”, but what is it? In order to fully understand its benefits, this post will give you a beginner’s guide to the cloud and what essentially is so good about it.

How Did the Cloud Get Its Name?

Business Insider reported last year that one of the earliest uses of the term was in a diagram from US Patent 5,485,455, “Network having secure fast packet switching and guaranteed quality of service,” that was filed in January 1994. The figure of the diagram depicts the network model as a cloud-shaped figure. While the authors of the patent didn’t mean to illustrate the network as a cloud, that is how it essentially got its name.

Nevertheless, the term didn’t grow in popularity until Amazon Web Services launched Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006. After that, many other companies followed their way by launching software (Salesforce), storage (DropBox), and combinations of the two (Microsoft Office 365). By now, 2017, the term “the cloud” is virtually everywhere.

What is Cloud Computing?

Merriam Webster defines cloud computing as:

“the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet”

Ultimately, it means that you rely on sharing computing resources rather than having your own local servers or personal devices to manage applications. Thus, companies who engage in cloud services, lease their digital assets and their employees essentially don’t know the location of the resources they are using. You can say these resources are simply “in the cloud” somewhere.

Three Types of Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing services is sold in three main models; Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): This method of delivering software offers businesses access to functions remotely via a Web-based service and at a much lower cost than licensed applications. Most businesses offers SaaS via a monthly fee and clients don’t have to invest in additional hardware or worry about set-up or maintenance.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): With this method, the entire platform is delivered as a service. This means that you would outsource your entire platform instead of having your own employees manage your hardware and software.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This method delivers the entire infrastructure as a service. Your company would essentially outsource the infrastructure but only pay for the resources you end up using.

While the three methods all differ from each other, they also share some similarities:

  1. You rent services instead of purchasing them, which means that IT becomes an operating expense rather than capital
  2. The platform vendors are responsible for all the maintenance, admin, troubleshooting, backup etc.
  3. Platform vendors are easy and flexible in customizing the services to you

Benefits of the Cloud

Related: 5 Top Benefits of Cloud Technology

The reason the cloud has gained so much traction in the past decade is because of all the benefits it provides. Forbes recently listed the following two benefits of the cloud:

  • Reliability: hardware and software redundancy protect you from loss of data
  • Integration: cloud services can integrate with other service systems such as project management, email and marketing, apps and social media

IBM’s dedicated Cloud page on their website lists flexibility, efficiency and strategic value as benefits of the cloud. Cloud computing offers the ability to scale, customization, and remote access via the Internet. Moreover, the cloud removes underlying infrastructure and maintenance costs. IBM also claims that “cloud services give enterprises a competitive advantage by providing the most innovative technology available”.

Related: Cloud Software – The Competitive Advantage

Some of the main benefits that our cloud based software clients mention are the following:

  • 24/7 support
  • Utility based
  • Easy and agile deployment
  • Frees up internal resources
  • Lower capital expenditure
  • Highly automated

We would love to hear what your opinions are on the cloud. Have you or do you plan on investing in cloud technology in 2017? What benefits does the cloud offer your business? Do you see any drawbacks with the cloud?

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Re-branding: New Look for Lavoie

Re-branding: New Look for Lavoie

As you may have noticed, we recently launched a new website in addition to a new brand look in the form of an updated logo, colors and tagline. We embarked on this re-branding journey a few months ago because we wanted our brand to better represent our unique position in the market as a nontraditional accounting firm that also focuses on cloud-based software solutions. We believe that our new brand better displays our role as a strategic and innovative partner to our clients.

Updated Website

The website has been entirely re-designed to aid visitors in navigating through our offering. First of all, the design is simpler and thus easier to navigate. Additionally, we have focused on improving content to better educate visitors on our offering and company information. Our solutions are now listed in our main three categories: software, outsourced accounting and projects. Additionally, visitors can also navigate through the industries we work with (software companies, business services, private equity and venture capital, and healthcare).

Re-designed logo

Since 2009, our main focus has been to help our clients in accounting and technology solutions; however, our old logo did not tell this story. Therefore, we are very excited with our new logo that has specifically incorporated design elements from accounting and technology. The “o” in Lavoie is interestingly based on the design of an abacus; a counting frame that was used as a calculating tool before the Hindu-Arabic numeral system was adopted.

New Tagline – “Efficiency Reimagined”

“We are very excited to reveal our new and fresh look and tagline, which speaks toward our innovation and ability to help clients reimagine new ways to accomplish their goals,” said Sharai Lavoie, CEO and Managing Member.

Needless to say, we are excited for our new look and hope you enjoy browsing our new site!

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According to recent survey published by The Sleeter Group the top 6 services desired by companies currently using a CPA are:
  1. Business Planning
  2. Business Strategy
  3. Create Dashboards to monitor business
  4. Business Analytics
  5. Represent me at Government Audits
  6. Tax planning
Compare that to the top 5 services received:
  1. Tax return preparation
  2. Tax planning
  3. Compile, review, audit business records
  4. Represent me at government audits
  5. Bookkeeping

Why are They Different?

There is a general misconception about the types of services CPA firms are able and willing to provide small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Lots of SMBs don’t think about their CPA when making technology decisions. And lots of CPA firms focused on the SMB market do not have the expertise or knowledge to make qualified recommendations. Technology is rapidly advancing and enabling SMBs to have access to enterprise quality solutions to provide invaluable information about their company. Businesses who plan revenues, margins, and operating income regularly and compare actual results to these plans will do significantly better than those who do not. Without technology it is extremely time consuming and difficult to get access to the necessary information which leads to many SMBs flying by the seat of their pants.

CPA Firms Should Be Ahead of the Technology Curve

The top 4 desired services can be achieved by SMBs with technology. Large corporations are already using accounting firms for technology services. It makes sense for the SMB market to start to do the same.