Eight Top Considerations When Evaluating Cloud-Based Solutions for Finance
Approximately 65% of IT and finance executives are considering, planning or executing changes in their financial systems, and 57% believe that cloud systems will eventually replace on-premises solutions. The most commonly cited reasons for this shift are the impact of new regulations, changing business requirements, and business growth/expansion.
Where are today’s legacy systems lacking? According to the research report, issued earlier this year by Saugatuck Technology, today’s systems:
- Are too fragmented, disassociated, and expensive to maintain or upgrade.
- Lack speed and timely access to financial performance and information, which results in a lack of visibility and insights.
- Are inflexible, preventing finance from adapting and improving as the business grows and changes.
If you are among the 65% looking at changing your financial systems and/or the 57% who believe that cloud systems are the future, you should take into consideration that not all cloud solutions are created equal. There are key characteristics you should look for from a cloud provider in general -- such as true multi-tenancy and world-class security -- as well as features and capabilities that apply specifically to finance.
Here are eight characteristics to consider in a cloud-based solution in a cloud-based financial solution:
- Financial insight in business terms: You want the solution to go beyond the basics of financial systems so that business decision makers receive a full view of the business. The system should be able to capture complete data at all stages of the process, and it must deliver actionable information and business intelligence to executives and operational managers through a self-service model.
- A true multi-tenant architecture: Multi-tenancy is the only proven is the only proven cloud delivery architecture that eliminates many of the problems created by the traditional software licensing and upgrade model. With multi-tenancy, everyone in the organization is on the same version of each application.
- Ground-up support for governance, risk, and compliance: As noted, the most often-cited reasons for fixing the finance system are around regulations and change. Legacy systems lack strong role-based security and require add-on workflow to help ensure ad-hoc approval and review processes. The right cloud-based system can simply and efficiently address these problems, which would otherwise leave the organization vulnerable to hefty regulatory fines.
- World-class data center and security: Your cloud supplier should be able to offer world-class security and data privacy that is better than what you can do on your own and at no additional costs. The provider should be compliant with all critical security-oriented laws and auditing programs.
- Support for a mobile, distributed finance organization: With the right cloud-based system, any user should be able to access relevant information from anywhere, using any device. What’s more, the mobile applications should take advantage of the native capabilities of mobile devices and should be designed to deliver information via clicks and swipes, as opposed to typing.
- Flexibility for an ever-changing environment: While legacy financial systems are notoriously inflexible and rigid, today’s environment is changing rapidly. Regulations are evolving, business opportunities are emerging and methods of doing business are dynamically shifting. The cloud-based finance system should help companies effectively plan for and implement change, while capturing unplanned change as it occurs.
- Easy to use and deploy: One of the important trends in business today is what is commonly referred to as “the consumerization of IT.” The premise is that everyone is now a user of technology in their personal lives, and all users have come to expect that their systems at work deliver many of the same benefits as their personal systems -- that they are simple to use, intuitive, mobile, adaptable, and available quickly, without glitches. Make sure your cloud supplier is focused on delivering a consumer-like user experience for all your users.
- A predictable cost model: Your cloud implementation for finance should be predictable, with subscription-based pricing that should be transparent and with no hidden fees. The finance systems should not require up-front investment in hardware and software licensing fees.
Moving finance to the cloud could be a breakthrough opportunity for your business, delivering real-time information and analytics that can have a significant impact on revenue, profitability, productivity, and competitiveness. The key is to make sure that your cloud solution is providing everything you need -- and more. These eight considerations for moving finance to the cloud will give you a great starting point. For more ideas, check out these resources: