What IT Can Learn From the Cloud-Connected Firm
Cloud-native apps have changed the face of accounting. Can it do the same for remote support?
Ask anybody in fintech, and they’ll all say the same thing:
“The cloud is here to stay.”
Public or private, cloud-native apps are the tools firms want — nay, need — to stay ahead. In the financial sector, 74% of institutions think cloud apps give them a distinct competitive advantage. And they’re not wrong. Clients are looking for firms using the latest technology to secure their portfolio in the turbulent near-term and uncertain future.
Even CPAs themselves are overwhelmingly in favor of the conversion to cloud. For the majority, cloud-native apps make them faster, more flexible, and able to deliver a better experience to their clients. But most of all, cloud-native apps have given them the go-anywhere versatility that made 2020 bearable for firms forced into remote work.
But the cloud isn’t always cute and fluffy and full of rainbows.
For firms, especially those who are remaining partially or fully remote in 2021, the risk cloud-native apps pose extends beyond issues like security. Home networks have introduced a new and volatile failure point, and for those who manage IT support for at-home accountants, the stakes have never been higher.
The looming clouds
The best parts of cloud apps and what they make possible might also be their biggest downside.
Ease of use, flexibility, and remote accessibility are great for both CPAs and clients. For accountants, having access to tools and records from just about anywhere can be a life-saver even outside the literal and figurative confines of a global pandemic. Cloud apps offer quick access, off-site storage, and redundancy that would otherwise require a monumental effort from firms.
And what’s good for the firm is good for the client. Cloud platforms allow for unified client records that are easy to pull up from anywhere a CPA may be working. That’s the sort of quality service clients are looking for in a firm, and the cloud makes it effortless.
However, cloud-native apps also introduce a critical failure point — the network. If a CPA can’t connect to an app or pull down records for a client, they’re pretty much stuck. There are ways around this (like on-site storage and full self-hosting), but with so many firms working remotely, all the great things about the cloud can work directly against them.
"Much like how finance adopted the cloud to be more efficient, so, too, does IT need to consider new tools to support accountants both in and out of the office. These tools can help support achieve better visibility into the root cause of chronic issues and gather definitive proof when CPAs start blaming the VPN for their shoddy WiFi connection."
Among the biggest concerns for firms in 2021 is client retention. Offices went remote with relative ease thanks to the cloud, but decentralization has also introduced more options for clients. When CPAs can work from anywhere, they can also take clients from anywhere, and that’s added extra pressure on firms to retain the accounts they have.
What does this have to do with IT? Quite a lot.
Between you and everyone at your firm, all eyes are on the network. And those networks aren’t in the office. They’re in homes, Airbnbs, and just about everywhere you aren’t. When a CPA can’t access client records or keeps dropping Zoom calls because their network connection is weak or nonexistent, you have no clue if it’s a service outage, spotty WiFi, or something else entirely. All the while, they’re putting extra pressure on you to fix things before their client gets fed up for the last time.
Finding a solution before it costs you
While there are things IT can do to support CPAs to get in front of remote network issues, you can’t account for everything all the time.
Much like how finance adopted the cloud to be more efficient, so, too, does IT need to consider new tools to support accountants both in and out of the office. These tools can help support achieve better visibility into the root cause of chronic issues and gather definitive proof when CPAs start blaming the VPN for their shoddy WiFi connection.
Tools like PingPlotter Cloud test and monitor networks from the user’s perspective, showing IT exactly where a problem lies. If an accountant can’t connect to the cloud app they need, support can quickly test their connection, find the problem, and take action.
Even more important is how these tools foster better communication between CPAs and IT. As we mentioned, tensions are running pretty high right now. When something goes wrong in the middle of an appointment, it doesn’t take long before everyone starts pointing fingers. Having direct, immediate insight into the network turns the conversation from one of blame to one of cooperation.
Sharing diagnostic data is a crucial feature of tools like PingPlotter Cloud. While no one expects everyone at the firm to understand how connection jitter is messing with their conference call, having an objective third party capable of quickly displaying the evidence keeps the conversation focused on the problem. With easy-to-understand visuals (everyone knows red is bad), support can show where and how localized or external issues are really what’s to blame.
That being said, even the best software in the world can’t cover a bad plan and poor communication. Taking a proactive, conversationally-focused approach goes a long way in both diffusing tensions and pursuing meaningful action. A tool that provides automation, visibility, and convenience makes home support a ton easier, but at the end of the day, there’s still a CPA trying to do their best with the information and resources they have. Running a functional firm is a team sport, and the winningest teams communicate.
Don’t leave IT in the dust
Ultimately, everyone at the firm wants the same thing: a network that works. Leveraging new technology to keep remote firms connected is the next step in continuing cloud conversion. The benefits of cloud-native fintech will only be as great as the networks they depend on. Utilizing tools that offer faster and more reliable support for at-home accountants is just as important to client satisfaction as the services your firm provides.
CPAs have embraced the value of the cloud. It’s time for IT to do the same.
PingPlotter Cloud is the support solution for a work-from-home world.
Dig deeper into performance data to better understand what your CPA is telling you.
Take control of payment and data storage. Adjust your plan as needs change.
Focus on diagnostics instead of creeping out your accountants.
Share live, read-only views of data to increase trust and cut down on back-and-forth.