I thought I was so clever when I wrote an article about my dad telling me to keep my head out of the clouds when I was a kid. Now, thanks to cloud computing my head is always in the cloud. I don’t own a single device that has a single file I am working on. All of my files are stored in the cloud. It’s a great way to live. There is a lot of talk about the cloud. Apple does it, Microsoft does it but the rub is – what is the cloud and should your company use a cloud service for Accounts Payable Automation?
The first thing is to know your cloud. There are different types of cloud offering. Knowing your cloud is important. There are some cloud based products that will require you to install, test and configure their software on a server they maintain. For the cost and implementation there would be no significant difference than doing an on-premises model. True, this will get you out of the server business, but that’s about it. The second type is what is commonly referred to as “multi-tenant SaaS”. This is an offering were each company has their own slice of the software that is already up and running. No installing is needed but generally a company will configure the software to fit their needs. This type of cloud service generally doesn’t give you access to the database as well as limits you on the amount of customizations you are able to do.
The Second thing is to know your service provider. Once you know the cloud type that fits you best, finding a service shouldn’t be all that challenging. The basic need to determine cloud or no cloud is the service provider’s approach to implementing. If you are an organization that wants/needs and doesn’t mind customization the first version of cloud based service is for you. If you are someone who doesn’t have too many moving part, then the second will save you time and money… there is a trade-off.
The third thing is to know your company. The biggest part of knowing your company is knowing complexity. The drama is that most (I can’t recall an exception) accounting folks believe that their Accounts Payable process is complex… more complex than normal. If that was the case then everyone would drift towards the first type of cloud based service. What I have found is, most AP departments aren’t that complex (sorry) the feeling of complexity comes for the process being out of control, which is a great reason to automate.
The fourth thing is to know your users. To answer the question of to be or not to be cloud one of the biggest focuses should be on mobility. Cloud based service can instantly make your user mobile. With or without an app, mobility is a great thing and your users will thank you for it.
Knowing is half the battle. To be or not to be cloud in AP Automation has a lot to do with mobility, service providers and types of cloud services. If you are an organization that has no need to own and maintain the software, a cloud based service is an excellent option.
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