Another tranche of practitioners is considering the cloud, but are they doing it for the right reasons? asks AdvanceTrack MD Vipul Sheth.

We all know and appreciate that once you’ve ‘been around the block’, you usually come back to the same point but at a different time.

For us experienced in practice, tax and/or technology, hearing similar conversations or seeing similar things happen is the norm. Sometimes these situations happen over many years – sometimes, for example, we get new chancellors saying the same thing every year.

There is now a sizeable tranche of accounting practices that made large, sometimes wholesale, moves to operate in the cloud over the past five-to-ten years. These early adopters could see the value of flexibility and security afforded by running their business in the cloud.

But there is a very sizeable tranche of practices that haven’t made that move – or are only now considering it (and often through their old tech becoming obsolete – or upon request of their clients). Certainly, at numerous events this year, I’ve heard conversations about ‘tell me about the cloud’ that wouldn’t have been out of place ten years ago. 

Practitioners that feel they’re being ‘dragged into’ updating their tech stack are, in my opinion, unlikely to make the most of the change. I’d envisage they would try and replicate out exactly how they worked before any fundamental IT or operational switch-up.

While I have concerns about their approach, it is at least positive to see them attending events in the first instance – there is certainly a wealth of information that they can receive.

Full circle

The early cloud adopters, generally, understand where they’re heading – and also have a mature approach to IT investment and management. They will need advice and support from their tech providers, but this will often be strategic support as opposed to hand-holding.

There is certainly a concern that a wave of late adopters may eat up the time and energies of the major tech platform providers in the coming months and years. This may even see support costs rise across the board – which, after recent tech licence increases, would certainly be unpopular.

Ultimately, we need these late adopters to build a plan. This should start with the basic question: What are they going to deliver and to whom. Even if there is no alteration in that plan, asking the question should precede any major tech change, because those answers must be clear before asking: ‘how am I going to deliver?’

Certainly, a poorly planned update to platforms and systems will end up failing – clients will simply walk. As mentioned earlier, there’s tons of good content out there – whether at Accountex, trade shows or the ACCA and Xero roadshows that AdvanceTrack has partaken in.

Invest your time, and your thoughts, into making your practice future-proof.

Vipul Sheth is MD and founder of AdvanceTrack

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