Much like Joe Wicks’ Lean in 15 recipes and work outs are dedicated to being short and sweet, Cloud technology and Software as a Service (SaaS) allows a quick implementation with immense benefits when used for accounts payable automation.
If you’re trying to make your Accounts Payable department “Lean in 15” by procuring a solution without a laborious, 6-to-12-month, project and implementation phase, the cloud will be exactly what you’re looking for. A solution much like Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Netflix, where you can simply sign up through a secure website, tell it where to find incoming invoices (email inbox, scanner, supplier portal etc), and let it work its magic.
Some professionals, however, remain sceptical about the efficacy and safety of using the cloud for business activity, in this article, I will cover a few topics often brought up when speaking to Finance professionals, alleviating concerns and eliminating disbelief.
Probably the most common point raised when discussing cloud technology with finance professionals is that of security. Once the initial ego thought of “my data is too sensitive and important for the cloud”, passes, the idea of storing a lot of business information somewhere other than on your own servers sounds daunting. The reality is that the cloud is incredibly secure and potentially safer than your own network.
The cloud is a network of data centres which spread portions and versions of the software across each site (packets). This means the data is never complete in one location, so, if one centre has a power cut, or there is a hacking attempt made, (for example) the software and all its information is not compromised.
My last note on security, is that much like an on-premise network, access is limited by account classifications. For example, a clerk processing invoices may change the coding on an invoice but may not edit the workflow. The difference here being, again, that they cannot physically go and override the system, since it is not in a location associated with the company.
Ever considered an IT project but couldn’t pass the business case because your internal IT department were quoting you obscene amounts to implement the software? You could have even felt as if your department were being used as a profit centre for IT.
This could be even worse if your timescales are limited and since you have no other alternatives, IT can hold you hostage and increase the price the sooner you need the project finished. With SaaS, you won’t have to pay IT to help you, this will all be done externally and at a fixed price.
Another benefit of the cloud is that both hardware and software upkeep is offloaded onto the supplier. Have you ever had to take time out to update Netflix? Had to sit around and install a new version of YouTube? No. This is because not only is that the responsibility of the supplier, but it is also done at the most appropriate time since SaaS is running day and night.
This means that when the hardware and software get an update your version is the latest, and so is everyone else’s. It also means if there is an issue with the servers the supplier takes the fall to replace and maintain the equipment.
Is your office suffering from too much space, a plethora of meeting rooms, and more private rooms for confidential phone calls to shake a stick at? I didn’t think so!
You know that room at the end of the office that only IT are allowed in and always has ice cold aircon blasting? That server room could be an extra meeting room or even an office if it wasn’t floor to ceiling with server towers, blinking LEDs, and, using more electricity than the Las Vegas strip.
Imagine not only the cost implication of all that electricity, but also the environmental impact to the wider world of all these private servers running throughout the year. In fact, a 2010 study by Accenture shows that cloud based applications can on average save 90% of C02 emissions.
Don’t forget, lean in 15 isn’t just about being healthy and efficient on the inside, but also implementation of peak physical presence. So not only would you be streamlining your processes, but also reducing the burden of hardware on your IT department and realising your dreams of a clutter free office.
With all your software in the cloud you can access it from anywhere. This is a life-saver for those who work from home or are often out on the road.
Imagine an invoice is waiting for approval from you marketing manager, who is always out of office at events. Now they can “approve on the move” and speed up the payment process, pleasing suppliers, and thus streamlining supplier invoice processing.
“Having all our software in the cloud must come with a premium price”. The blessing of the cloud is that suppliers can host multiple companies’ software at once, which makes it more cost effective than running your own servers just for your software.
Imagine a behemoth of a company like Microsoft and their Azure cloud platform. The amount of companies they work with spreads that cost to such an extent that the effect on your purse strings is negligible. Helping software vendors provide a premium quality product at a mid-tier price.
All the above points also come with cost benefits, for example the cost of security is offloaded onto the supplier. You can save money through re-purposing your server room, or even moving to a smaller office. Even little things such as saving office tea bags by promoting flexible working can have a positive impact on the business.
If you have any other worries or questions about moving your Accounts Payable software to the cloud, I would gladly take this opportunity to answer them. Send me an email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and I may follow up with another blog should I receive enough questions.